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Document Abstract
Published: 2016

Learning From the Past: Framing of Undernutrition in India Since Independence and Its Links to Agriculture

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Understanding policy debates from the past can help to explain and address the challenges of today. Agriculture can play an important role in the reduction of undernutrition in India. However, the nutrition-enhancing potential of agriculture remains underused. In order to understand the roots for the weak links between agriculture and nutrition in contemporary India, this paper follows the evolution of the policy debates on nutrition and agriculture from India’s Independence to the present. The frame analysis reveals several substantial shifts in the framing. Undernutrition has been framed as a health issue (1950-’65), a problem of food shortage (1965-’75), a multidimensional poverty challenge (1975-’97) and a nutrition and food security issue (after 1997).

The framing of agriculture remained more or less unchanged until the early 2000s, with agriculture being portrayed as a key driver of economic growth and the foundation of food security. During the last 10-15 years the awareness of the potential of agriculture for a balanced, diversified and nutritious diet gradually increased in the policy debates; however, deeply-rooted beliefs and perceptions about agriculture remain and may hinder the development of more nutrition-sensitive agricultural programmes and policies.
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