Odisha’s ST & SC Development Minister Lal Bihari Himirika today inaugurated a two-day national conclave named, “Nourishing India’s Tribal Children—Voices of front liners, good practices and policy implications” in the temple city of Bhubaneswar, drawing attention to chronic under nutrition of the tribal children across the nine Sheduled V States including Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Gujrat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
The conclave is a way to energize efforts of all the concerned stake holders under the convening power of the Tribal affairs Ministry and the UNICEF with an aim to improve the nutrition intake of the tribal children in India.
While inaugurating the conclave, Mr. Himirika said, “Progress of our country will remain incomplete without taking the needs and aspirations of the tribal population into account and all-round development is not possible with children being under nourished.”
“It requires continuous effort by many Ministries and Departments working together to deliver the best possible results in case of nourishing the tribal children across the country”, he added
UNICEF Representative Mr. Louis Georges, in his address, emphasized the need to focus on the stubbornly high stunting rates among tribal Children. “India’s tribal people continue to remain the most nutritionally deprived groups in the country. Tribal children face multiple deprivations putting them at much higher risk to become under nourished, challenging their growth and development”, he said.
Addressing in the conclave, Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda crucially pointed out some cultural aspects of the tribe which tend to malnourishment among tribal children. “Half of the tribal girls get married under the age of 18; and, the underage marriage, early pregnancy and lactation etc deprive the children in getting proper breast feeding.” He critically opined to enforce the marriage law strictly. Another problem, he finds out that the girl children normally take the remaining foods only after the male persons of the family took the food. “Such problems can be solved through social education”, he said.
In his view, Sudam Marandi opined that the crucial factor is the language of the tribals. Since they do not understand the language and dialects spoken by the mainstream people and vice versa, it is a challenge to communicate the tribe in order to provide education. And he believed education will play a pivotal role for their all round development.
The discussion among the participants including government bodies, policymakers, academicians, intellectuals, social activities, members of civil society, media persons etc. will certainly catalyze to address the challenges of malnourishment of tribal children across the country.
In addition to the discussion, the conclave also showcased the indigenous agricultural products of tribal people and participation of numbers of NGOs working for the development of the tribes across the country.