Undernourishment and Public Policy in India

Scientists, donors, and Indian policymakers are puzzled why India has the highest percentage of undernourished children in the world. This project explores the reasons why the country's high economic growth rate has not translated into better nutrition for its people, particularly poor women and children. It aims to shape policies underlying the development of India's proposed National Food Security Act. As well, it will help restructure the public food distribution system and the delivery of social welfare programs that affect food and nutritional security.

The project's two streams are led by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (India) and the Institute of Development Studies (United Kingdom). The first stream will analyze national data sets to examine the magnitude and distribution of malnutrition, how income and dietary compositions affect nutrition, the different effects on women and men, and how nutrition is connected to water, sanitation, and hygiene. The second stream of the project will analyze policy needs for designing and implementing nutrition-focused initiatives.

These projects will establish research gaps and lead to the commissioning of 15 to18 research articles analyzing identified needs. Those articles will feed into policy development through briefs, website content for the Institute of Development Studies, other online platforms, and the publication of an edited book and/or journal issue. A symposium in India will share research results with key policymakers, researchers, civil society, and the media in order to highlight the issue of malnutrition in the country and spur action.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Sunday, July 1, 2012

End Date

Saturday, August 22, 2015


24 months

IDRC Officer

Chatterjee, Anindya

Total funding

CA$ 342,400


India, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia, United Kingdom


Agriculture and Food Security

Project Leader

Lawrence Haddad


Institute of Development Studies

Institution Country

United Kingdom

Institution Website


Project Leader

Sonalde Desai


National Council of Applied Economic Research

Institution Country


Institution Website