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Stunting growth of India’s children

The recent UNICEF report that contaminated water is stunting the growth of Indian children needs to be taken seriously. According to this report, children in India have been found to be considerably shorter and underweight because their bodies use up energy to fight frequent infections, lowering their strength and growth. With 43 per cent of children below five years found to be underweight, constituting about 54 million Indian children, and with 48 per cent stunted because of malnutrition, adding another 61 million, these are abysmal figures. Water contaminated by biological agents such as bacteria, viruses and parasites cause a number of waterborne diseases such as gastrointestinal infections in infants and young children. In addition, there are chemical agents in the water as well, which also cause pollution and diseases.
 
Contaminated water, along with poor sanitation, is the biggest cause of infection in India. According to UNICEF, half of India practices open defecation and the faeces contaminate food and water. Water continues to be contaminated in India despite a sizeable water resource base largely because of unequal distribution, unregulated groundwater extraction, water pollution, poor sanitation and bad waste management. India may have to pay a huge price for this government’s lop-sided developmental concern that is callously insensitive to young children.
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