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USING THE LOG WHERE IT DOES NOT FIT

Econometrical analysis is heart of any economic research. It won’t be fare if I do not give a glimpse about Econometrics; basically, econometrics is a special form of statistical analysis completely dedicated to the growth of economic research and in some cases it is distinguishable from standard statistical mathematics. The regime of econometrics is vast and new approaches are adding on day by day. Econometrics have the capability to give us subtle but meaningful insights through its computing and analytical power.

Sometimes obscuring models in some research activities make me anxious and pioneered me to think deeply about modeling issues. While attending a national seminar at a university I noticed a person presenting an econometric model with some indescribable move by making the natural logarithm operator common for all explanatory variables. Basically his model seems to be functionally miss-specified, i.e., the components of the model were erroneously presented. In this context, I am trying to reflect the dummies under the umbrella of natural logarithm.

Let’s kick off with the need for natural logs in a regression model. Natural logs are often used to show constant percentage regression models. For instance, with log wage dependent variable and education as

log(wage) = b0 + b1educ + u

a regressor we can say that wage increases by a constant percentage with every additional year of education. In addition, natural log can be used to obtain constant elasticity and semi elasticity regression model. In the above equation 100.b1 refers to as semi-elasticity of y with respect to x. if the education variable was log (educ), then we could have said b1 is elasticity of y with respect to x.

On the other hand, dichotomous or dummy variable is a kind of variable to show binary responses, i.e., either yes or no (0 or 1 similarly). But applying natural logarithm to a dummy variable is not a good idea as this may force the results to be biased. It is not meaningful as because natural log of 0, 1 is undefined and 0 respectively. Putting the log on the dummies basically an ignorance to basic mathematical theory and would be a point critical assessment. From my point of view, applying log to categorical variable is also avoidable; this may also lead to the same unsolved puzzle. A user of regression model is expected to have a fruitful decision-making abilities in deciding where to use these methods and where not. It is always better to leave dummy variable as it is should there be any appropriate need to change. If you have any particular view on this, putting up a comment would be appreciable.

Author’s Name:
Tanay Chanda

Research Executive – MLE at DevInsights, Delhi

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Reflections - two years of DevInsights

Reflections – Two years of DevInsights

The morning walk today did not seem to be as usual, not too many people were walking in the park today. Sunday anyways don’t witness a lot of people, that’s the day when people tend to break the routine and relax. For me however, the day was pretty delightful, filled with loads of enthusiasm and gratitude. DevInsights is completing two years today! Incidentally, the day coincides with the Disability Day and on my WhatsApp I received a video of an unusual football match, where the players were without limbs, but the way they were playing left me speechless. Yes, they chose to play instead of making excuse of their disability. And they played like champions!

Almost two years ago, around the same time, I had shared my plans of starting DevInsights with my wife while walking. She was not surprised on hearing about my plan as if she already knew about it. But quitting from a senior position and high salaried job was not so easy. I was talking about walking a path in life, which scares many. The reassurance however, from my better half was quite comforting when she said – don’t worry, we’ll manage! Those were the powerful words from Minal, one of the co-founders, which made DevInsights happen. The idea was turned into reality on the 4th December 2015.

Only someone who has taken the plunge can imagine that starting to work on own is considered like an unpardonable crime in India. After all, in India, the parents get their children educated only so that they can secure a good job. Some of my friends and family were no exception. Discouragement came from all corners. But the thought of creating an institution was compelling. The thought that this can help transform a number of lives, the capacities that it would develop, the jobs that it may create and the innovations that would take place was strong.

Apropos to our mission statement, DevInsights positions itself, as a credible cost effective insights provider and a key solution provider in the social development sector for effective decision making for the decision makers and policy planners. There’s no dearth of agencies supplying data, but eliciting insights, is indeed a rare commodity. Therefore we aim to accentuate insights in the development sector.

The first two years have been slow, but steady and most importantly in the direction as envisioned. We have already worked with around 14 clients/partners with our footprints in about 13 states in India. Some of them have come back with repeat business and most of them have recommended us heavily. This is because of the sheer hard work and commitment of the members of the DevInsights family. You guys are brilliant. Your enthusiasm and energy is contagious and your ideas are compelling. Thanks for taking the driving wheel, thank you Chandan, Ayush, Zoya, Divya, Komal, Shivangni and Rahul!

We initiated our much appreciated M4D (Music for Development) project, which is BCC model that uses music as a tool. The pilot project yielded very positive results, which is being planned to be implemented in different geographies on different thematic areas.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has been a part of this journey. I fondly remember the contributions of Nisha, Akshay and Shikha who became the part of the DevInsights family when it had started taking baby steps and helped us reach where we are today. We wish them all the best! I would also like to thank the tremendous support of our clients / partners, who believed in us. We are excited about our association and we stay committed to ensuring your success.

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sarvodaya-through-antyodaya

Sarvodaya through Antyodaya

I recently visited a small village in Puspatirega. The village is known for it’s panoramic views of boxed houses & roads. Vizianagram, of which Puspatirega is a small part, is a historically renowned town. Tenali Ramakrishna, famously known as “Tenali ram” lived here under the patronage of King Krishnadev Raya. Tenali Ram was known for his wittiness and his stories are famed across the country. In spite of having has such an illustrious past, the socio-economic condition of the village today is dismal.

The village is divided on the basis of caste, with strict demarcation of localities for those belonging to Schedule Tribe (ST) community. In the village I visited, there was a large population of STs residing. In my transect walk I discovered that people were living on tits and bits, they had little to wear, insufficient food for the family, kuchha houses constructed mainly out of dry leaves and husk. Their voices were feeble and those at the apex of the system were unable to hear them. This made me think that it was rightly said by Mahatma Gandhi – “Sarvodya through Antaodya”- every scheme of the government should be prepared considering the last person standing.

Returning to the theme of my study – evaluation of the enabling and disabling factors of girl child education – I visited a govt. school with my team of investigators. The school premises was large enough, but  almost every govt. school lacked physical infrastructure  like benches, fans, water cooler etc. Unlike this, the private schools in cities were just opposite. These small establishments were running out of even small buildings, though had good infrastructural facilities, were mushrooming all over the state.

sarvodaya-through-antyodaya

Not to anybody’s surprise, there are huge leakages in our educational system because of which we are unable to harness the potential of the future generation. Paulo Freire’s banking mode of education which illustrates that teacher is only pouring the knowledge in students’ brain without any interaction is an apt fit for Indian education system. It is important to acknowledge the potential of every student and our education system must be equipped to unearth that potential and polish it so that it reaches its fullest.

During the study I also realized that almost every parent wants their children to attend school (even if it is only till they attain a certain age). People belonging to the lowest strata of the society could only afford to send their children to the govt. school. However, as soon as their economic condition starts to improve, they promptly enroll their children into Pvt. schools.

sarvodaya-through-antyodaya2

A system runs efficiently only if all its organs works effectively. Although, the ones at the top of the hierarchy are the most responsible for its effectiveness but importance of others can’t be ignored. This is to say, that our teachers must realize their role in the system, they are not only a system for transmission of information from point A to B, but play a crucial role in the over all development of the child’s thought process.

Chanakya had once said to Dhanand when he ordered to thrash out Chanakya from his court that a tiny teacher can’t teach me what to do and what not to do to which Chanakya had replied “never underestimate the strength of a teacher – construction & destruction play on their lap”. It is to say that if the teachers start performing to their full potential then many things will automatically start changing for better.

We live in a society that is anti-deviant everyone blindly follows practices which were set years ago even if the logic to it is unknown. Sadly, this anti-deviant approach is killing the innovation and creativity of the people. The abbot of the community gets uneasy if someone questions the system prevailing, they start conspiring to make the path of the deviant difficult to walk.  For a healthy society it is important to give equal importance to every voice and further the individuality of all humans that form a part of it’s society.

sarvodaya-through-antyodaya3
Saraswati-the-Goddess

In last this photo of Saraswati the Goddess of knowledge, art, music, wisdom and learning. Think!

 

Author’s Name:
Ayush Patel

Research Executive at DevInsights, Delhi

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Urban-Poor-and-their-health-challenges

Urban Poor and their health challenges

Once upon a time, in a sprawling metropolis – a liftman (resident of a slum) had severe cough from weeks and went on taking medicines from local doctors or quacks. Scared of losing his job, he didn’t tell about it to anyone. As he was on medication under local doctor without proper diagnosis, his un-diagnosed TB turned into MDR (Multi-drug resistant) TB. Later, this Tuberculosis spread among the people who used to use the lift that he operated. One un-diagnosed case led to many others. This is not a tale out of any story book; but the reality that exists across urban areas in our country.

Let’s start with understanding what an urban area is. An urban area can be largely defined as a densely populated area with built-up settlements of bricks-and-mortar continuity. These areas provide great opportunities for individuals and families to prosper and can provide a healthy living environment through enhanced access to services, culture and recreation. The recent times have seen that the growth of urban areas in low-income countries has been four times faster than the growth in high-income countries. The rapid migration from rural areas aided with the natural population growth is putting further pressure on limited resources in cities, especially in low-income countries. According to WHO (World Health Organization), by 2030, 6 in 10 people will be living in the towns and cities. In India, percent of slum dwellers have decreased from 24 (in 2001) to 22 percent (in 2011); on the other hand absolute numbers increased from 52 million to 65 million.

As mentioned above most of the migration takes place in search of better opportunities and services. Not all of them are from economically sound and highly qualified background. They get engage into the low-income jobs and prefer living in the slums and squatter settlements. These settings tend to be unregulated precarious, overcrowded, and are often exposed to hazards, such riverbanks and water basin locations subject to flooding, or sites near industrial hazards. They rely on street food, processed and cheap food; leading to nutritional problems such as vitamins/mineral deficiencies, etc. Inadequate diet reduces their resistances to diseases.

Health is valued universally as an essential prerequisite for a fulfilling and productive life. In fact, “Good Health and well-being” is included as the third goal of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), making it a matter of priority.  Within this, Urban Health is emerging as a new and dynamic field, which brings to the fore the complex manner in which many factors are interlinked with each other. In the Indian context, urban health infrastructures have been found to be inadequate to meet the need of the urban population, especially the poor. There are 1083 Urban Family Welfare Center (UFWCs), and 871 Health Posts (HPs) that cater to 377 million people living in urban. This means one UFWC/HP per 192,992 urban populations. Such a number is naturally a discouraging factor for the poor people to approach government facilities. This is the reason the population living in poverty, even in urban areas, ends up seeking treatment from local quacks at cheap prices, majorly to save their wage loss.

On one hand, the government has provided many policies for help of the needy (of which most people remain unaware), on the other hand the procedure is so time taking and complex, that it acts as a discouraging factor for even those who do have knowledge about the policy. While in the governmental setup, there is a lack of modern infrastructures for the proper diagnosis, it is easily available in the private sector but at a much higher cost. Added to these financial disparities, there are many factors which discourage poor from getting proper treatment, such as staff behavior, non-standardization of treatment and payment protocols and accessibility. The very low availability of urban health services for the urban poor and the non-functioning of those that are available indicate a serious lapse on the part of the government in urban health planning.

Faced with these issues, the populations living in poverty (which form the majority), end up opting for local doctors or quacks which further leads to the difficult health situations and spread of diseases. It is no wonder; this cycle repeats itself as reality for poor people across the urban areas in the cities.

 

Author’s Name:
Mousumi Dutta

Intern at DevInsights, Delhi

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A Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) Tool for WASH

The honourable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, introduced Swachch Bharat Mission on 2nd October, 2014 to ensure Clean India in five years. Mr. Modi’s admittance to the filthy situation in which Indian citizens have been living and the fact that nothing had been done with a sense of urgency at a larger scale built up a national attitude towards achieving the said goal. Bureaucrats and politicians were seen promoting cleanliness activities through photos, plans for the infrastructure were created and strategies oriented in order to bring about a greater impact of the Swachch Bharat Plan.

This outlay promises and allocates a sizeable amount to infrastructure of building toilets around the nation but is that the greatest challenge that the government faces? Perhaps no! Poor sanitation habits, lack of awareness regarding cleanliness, hand-washing and hygiene is a widely accepted one. Adding a greater sum of money does account for building toilets but it is not enough to bring about a change for achieving Clean India by 2019. A fractional part of this big diverse nation has taken up the challenge to mind their behaviour by not littering the streets, by building and using latrines in their houses, educating their children and neighbours about the significance of hand washing. Hence, there is a dire and an urgent need to create awareness, formulate strategies and engage communities for a change in behaviour. One way we could effectively bring about such a transition is through music.

m4d-pic2

From infancy to adulthood, through multiple transitions in our lives, from rosy to rocky, music is a part of all. We know we like a song when we find our feet tapping to a tune, our heads nodding and fingers clicking to the rhythm. We carry the lyrics in our mind not fully understanding how those words imprinted in our subconscious influence our understanding of things and our actions. It will be extremely naive for anyone to assume that music has a purpose only for entertainment’s sake. At various times it has become a tool to promote an idea, empower communities, communicate sentiments and control demeanour. We know how Mozart’s music has been used in that past to direct appropriate behaviour among young offenders, how punk rock became a strong tool for communicating, rebelling and empowering women. Scholars have time and again emphasised the connection of music and neuroscience and how it can be used for a deep seated change in human behaviour and for human development. Music for Development (M4D) aims for such an efficient and long lasting impact in support of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan.

m4d-pic3

Music for Development aims to produce music of the popular culture for children studying in school for educational purpose as the lyrics of the song will ensure that the lesson sticks with them while it is still enjoyable. The song lyrics strictly promotes and emphasises on key WASH behaviours. Advertently, efforts have been made to devise music with which the children of a particular region are well familiar with so that the songs don’t seem foreign and easily position themselves in the mind of the child. The project demands a routine playing of the songs in school where the top priority will be recalling knowledge ensuring it is enjoyable yet doesn’t overshadow the lesson. The lyrics are playful, informative and easy to grasp for any young child where there are direct instructions which are vital for teaching repertoire. Learning through such an approach will ensure nurturing of the child by building healthy habits in lines of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan.

Music For Development (M4D) Open Defecation

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Figure-1

District Level Development of Jharkhand

District Level Development of Jharkhand

According to the 2011 Census, the population of Jharkhand was 33 million, which is 2.7 per cent of the total population of the country.  The states fares relatively better on some of the social development indicators as compared to other states, but for most of the other indicators it’s significantly lagging. While Jharkhand’s sex ratio (947 per 1000) is marginally higher than India’s (940 per 1000), the per capita state domestic product (Rs. 46,131/-) is significantly lower than all India average (Rs. 74,380/-). Despite the fact that per capita income of the state is higher compared to many other states, it is second poorest state in the country with almost 37 per cent poor compared to 22 per cent at all India level (Mehta & Singh, 2016).When we look at the indicators even deeper at the district level, significant differences exist across the districts.

 

To further delineate this, we adopted a mix of UNDP and Government of India (Planning Commission) approach with some additional variables to create a composite human development index at district level. Jharkhand district level HDI has been calculated to examine the progress of districts in the state. Using this, the index suggests that Purbi Singhbhum stands at top among all the districts followed by Dhanbad, Ranchi, Ramgarh and Bokaro as developed with score HDI score between 7.5 and 10.

 

In the middle or under less developed category with HDI score between 5 and 7.5 are Hazaribagh, Kodarma, Saraikela-Kharsawan, Deoghar, Khunti, Giridih, Lohardaga, Palamu, Jamtara, Garhwa and Latehar.

 

In the bottom or less developed districts withHDI score less than 5  are Pakur, which holds the lowest index value followed by Godda, Sahibganj, Dumka, Pashchimi Singhbhum, Simdega, Chatra and Gumla.

Table 1: District Wise Level of Human Development Index of Jharkhand and Rank

 District

Index

Rank

Developed (7.5-10.0)

 Purbi Singhbhum

9.7

1

 Dhanbad

9.4

2

 Ranchi

8.9

3

 Ramgarh

8.5

4

 Bokaro

8.4

5

Less Development (5.0-7.5)

 Hazaribagh

7.3

6

 Kodarma

6.8

7

Saraikela-Kharsawan

6.4

8

 Deoghar

6.4

9

 Khunti

6.2

10

 Giridih

5.7

11

 Lohardaga

5.5

12

 Palamu

5.5

13

 Jamtara

5.2

14

 Garhwa

5

15

Least Developed (Below 5.0)

 Latehar

4.9

16

 Gumla

4.9

17

 Chatra

4.9

18

 Simdega

4.8

19

 Pashchimi Singhbhum

4.7

20

 Dumka

4.7

21

 Sahibganj

4.6

22

 Godda

4.4

23

 Pakur

4.1

24

The HDI is further depicted in Figure 1. It can be seen from this diagram that there is a big drop of development index from developed, i.e. Bokaro (8.4) to less development district, i.e. Hazaribagh (7.3). In fact, half of the less developed districts and all least developed districts are clustered around within a range of around 5 and 4. Almost more than half of the districts in the state fall below the average level of development (around 5) of the state. This analysis reveals high level of imbalance at district level development within the state.

Figure 1: District Wise Level of Development

figure-1

 

The HDI is further depicted in Figure 1. It can be seen from this diagram that there is a big drop of development index from developed, i.e. Bokaro (8.4) to less development district, i.e. Hazaribagh (7.3). In fact, half of the less developed districts and all least developed districts are clustered around within a range of around 5 and 4. Almost more than half of the districts in the state fall below the average level of development (around 5) of the state. This analysis reveals high level of imbalance at district level development within the state.

Method that used to calculate the index

We have adapted the UNDP and Government of India (Planning Commission) approach with some additional variables to create a composite human development index at district level. Some important development indicators for which if the data is not available at district level, either a proxy variable is taken or omitted from the analysis. The human development index at district level has been calculated by using principal component method[1], which draws upon factor analysis.

Notes

[1] Principal Component Analysis is a data reduction technique. It gives output in the form of eigenvalue and Factor Loading or Eigen Vector. The eigenvalue explain the variance in the variable, first component explains most of the variance. In standard practice components with eigenvalues more than 1 is chosen. The sum of eigenvalue is equal to total number of variables. Factor loading in the first component or second etc for each variable indicate the relative importance of that variable contributing to the objective. High factor loading explain stronger contribution and low suggests low contribution to the objective. So, one can select the important variables from this analysis.

Table 1 presents available indicators of ‘well being’ as discussed above from secondary sources used to calculate the district level human development index. These are categorized into four broad categories.

  • Standard of decent living:
    (i) Monthly per capita expenditure as income proxy
    (ii) level of living as proxy (households having wood roof and wall),
    (iii) basic household amenities (household having electricity, drinking water, sanitation and telephone facilities); 
  • Knowledge or Educational status:
    (i) educational participation (children enrolled in and attending school) and
    (ii) female literacy rate;
  • Healthy Life or Health status:
    (i) infant mortality rate;
  • Other development indicators:
    (i) urbanization rate;
    (ii) financial inclusion (household having access to bank) and
    (iii) per cent of Schedule Caste (SC)/ Schedule Tribe (ST) population and.

Table 1: Variable, Description and Data Sources

 Variable Description and Data sources
 Monthly per capita expenditure  Monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) calculated from consumption expenditure surveys of the National Sample Survey Organization, 2011-12.
 Level of living proxy  % of household having housing with mud wall & roof calculated form Population Census Abstracts, 2011
 Basic household amenities  % households having electricity as primary source of lighting; access to drinking water within premises; sanitation facilities within premises; telephone facilities from Population Census Abstracts 2011.
 Educational participation  Attendance ratio of 5-14 years of age group calculated from employment and unemployment rounds of National Sample Survey Organization, 2011-12.
 Female literacy rate  Female literacy calculated form Population Census Abstracts, 2011.
 Health status  Infant mortality rate, from SRS Bulletin, Registrar General of India, 2012.
 Urbanisation rate  % population in urban areas calculated formPopulation Census Abstracts, 2011.
 % of SC/ST population  % of SC-ST population calculated form population census abstracts, 2011.
 Financial Inclusion  % of households availing banking facilities as financial development indicators calculated form Population Census Abstracts, 2011.

The major sources of data used for the analysis are National Sample Survey Organization, 2011-12, Population Census Abstracts, 2011 and Sample Registrar System (SRS) Bulletin, Registrar General of India, 2012. The data of above indicators was collected for 24 districts of Jharkhand for the latest available years, which ranges from 2011 to 2013. Data for some of the newly created districts (like Ramgarh and Khunti) was not available and replaced by their original districts data for the analysis.

Each indicator was made unidirectional[1] and normalised by using average method[2], i.e. before calculating factor loading as a weight for each variable using principal component analysis.  Further, the weight of each indicator has multiplied with its normalized value and composite development index is calculated by summing these nine values, which appears in Table 4 with their rank.

Notes

[1]Unidirectional means making variables’values either in positive or negative direction like urbanization rate and female literacy rate is positive, while infant mortality rate and % of SC/ST population is negative. So to make all these variables either positive or negative is necessary before calculating index. The last two variables can be made positive by simply reversing – % non SC/ST population and children survival rate.

[2] Normalization serves the purpose of bringing the indicators into the same unit. Average method, i.e. variables value divided by the average value of state used to normalize the values.

Conclusion

The human development status across districts of the state differs significantly. There are high developed districts such as Purbi Singhbhum, Dandbad, Ranchi, Ramgarh and Bokaro indicating better performance in terms of most of the development indicators ranging from urbanization to female literacy, while the least developed districts such as Pakur and Godda shown poor performance in terms of development indicators like female literacy, urbanization, electricity, sanitation and drinking water. Therefore, there is an urgent need for taking appropriate policy correction and action for improvement of these indicatorsfor the welfare of less or least developed districts. This will not only improve the well being of people residing in these districts but also enhance the overall development of the state. Lastly, the welfare of the people of a particular area cannot be measure by just one income indicator but it needs a combination of well being indicators.

Notes

[2]Unidirectional means making variables’values either inpositiveor negative directionlike urbanization rate and female literacy rate is positive, while infant mortality rateand % of SC/ST population is negative. So to make all these variables either positive or negative is necessary before calculating index. The last two variables can be made positive by simply reversing – % non SC/ST population and children survival rate.

[3] Normalization serves the purpose of bringing the indicators into the same unit. Average method, i.e. variables value divided by the average value of state used to normalize the values.

Authors:

Dr. Balwant Singh Mehta, Email: balwant.mehta@ihdindia.org and

Mr. Paresh Kumar, Email: paresh@devinsights.co.in

Balwant is an Associate Fellow with the Institute of Human Development, New Delhi. Paresh is Co-founder of a leading Research, Monitoring and Evaluation organization, DevInsights Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi

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ghi2016

Some Food for Thought When None Left for People!

Some Food for Thought When None Left for People!

October 23, 2016 loomed as another dark day for the family of Dharmendra and Usha, one more day to survive without any food. Previously numerous days had been spent in the same manner. But the body if Dharmendra it seemed had other plans and took on a different direction. He could not survive and his body succumbed to starvation.

“October 23, 2016 turned the last dark day for Dharmendra”.

In what is cited as the most populous state in the Republic of India, in one of its illustrious districts of Allahabad, a young man of 28 years of age died of starvation on October 23, 2016. He was barely survived by a wife, who had been suffering in the same state from past many days. While the local administration plays the blame game for the responsibility of his death, the fact shall remain that the jobless Dalit youth died of hunger. And all this could generate were a few columns in some newspapers across the country, putting the death as a lost statistic where it shall remain as an anomaly, hidden in some records, yet an anomaly in this age and land.

As India progresses leaps and bounds in the technology and forays ahead in the defence sector, the 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) in its figures presented for 118 countries has ranked India at number 97. Before moving on to the statistics and the workings of the Global Hunger Index, lets begin by covering the basics. 

What is Hunger?

Hunger is a global, multidimensional and complex phenomenon that has been observed as a global concern, as reflected through the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG) which is Zero Hunger.  Hunger can basically be understood as the condition of distress caused due to the lack of food. FAO defines food deprivation, as the consumption of lesser than 1800 kilocalories a day which is the minimum quantity required to live a productive and healthy life.  While the direct causes for hunger can be attributed to the natural (famine, drought), the basic ones are man-made. The conditions that lead to this situation are mostly the result of man-made actions that can thus be addressed in the same manner, as it is a known fact that the world produces adequate amount of food that can feed the global population.

Other definition associated with the concept of hunger is of malnutrition, which translates into two conditions of undernutrition and over nutrition respectively, leading to insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients. Largely, undernutrition is associated with malnutrition which signifies deficiencies in any or all of the given – energy, protein, or essential vitamins and minerals.  It is the result of inadequate intake of food in terms of either quantity or quality, poor utilization of nutrients due to infections or other illnesses or a combination of these factors.

Global Hunger Index

Global Hunger Index is a tool that has been designed to track and measure the global, national and regional levels of hunger (International Food Policy and Research Institute, 2016). As it reports the statistics related to hunger across the world, GHI acts as a medium to assess the levels of hunger (Progress or lack of it), combatting efforts and provides an understanding about the issue, thus raising awareness of it. The GHI includes a thematic focus wherein the focus of 2016 was Zero Hunger.

The 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) has been calculated for 118 countries that reflects hunger levels during the period from 2011 to 2016. As Hunger is a complex problem, with a multidimensional nature and various forms, therefore the four component indicators are used in one index. The scores on the index reflect the nutrition situation of the population as a whole, and along with that also of children (vulnerable subset) and thereafter combines independently measured indicators so as to reduce the effects of random measurement errors.

Four component indicators are :

  1. Under-nourishment – Proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the population (reflecting share of population with insufficient caloric intake)
  2. Child Wasting – Proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from wasting (low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition)
  3. Child Stunting – Proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from stunting (low height for their age, reflecting chronic under-nutrition)
  4. Child Mortality – the Mortality rate of children under the age of five (partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

Inclusion of such measures makes it a comprehensive index, and the data for 2016 GHI shows that level of hunger in developing countries as a group has fallen by 29 percent. While the levels may have declined, it has been so in a skewed manner. Regionally, Africa (South of Sahara) and South Asia remain the regions with the highest levels of hunger. Among these, India has been ranked 97th among the 118 countries, with a GHI score of 28.5, putting it in the upper range of serious category.

Dissecting this score further we see that under the indicator of Undernourishment, the proportion of undernourished in the population is 15.2% reflecting the percentage of population that is not getting the required caloric intake. The other three indicators associated with child health care in a similar manner. The indicator for child wasting of the prevalence of wasting in children under the age of five year, reflecting acute under-nutrition has a score of 15.1% . The indicator for child stunting has the highest prevalence with about 38.7% and the indicator for the under-five mortality rate has the score of 4.8%.

These scores may reflect an improvement than the past year for every indicators, the numbers are still an important concern that needs to be addressed as the report also suggests that even when the hunger levels decline at the rate that they have in the past years as measured in GHI, the scores on hunger would still remain in the moderate to alarming category. Moreover at this rate the Sustainable Goal of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 shall remain a pipeline dream.

By: Shikha Rana, Research Executive – DevInsights

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Pester-power1

Pester Power – Worth Exploring for Effective and Sustained Behaviour Change

Pester Power - Worth Exploring for Effective and Sustained Behaviour Change

Last month, I was amused to hear my seven your old son asking me not to buy crackers for Deepawali. Deepawali in India is one of the biggest festivals, which is celebrated with equal joy and enthusiasm by all ages, strata, sex, caste and religion. This is a festival of lights as the name suggests (Deep is Light and Aavli is a row or sequence – lights decorated in a row). But gradually this festival of lights turned into festival of bursting crackers. The more crackers you burst, the wealthier you are considered.

Coming back to my son’s assertion for not buying crackers. I was pleasantly surprised and enquired what makes him say that. He unravels the mystery and explained – his eight years old friend (neighbour actually) has explained him the issue of worsening status of environment of Delhi and also that his dog tends to get scared by the noise of the ear-cracking crackers. I was delighted, the eight year old kid was able to convince him, who would have otherwise pressurised me to buy a bunch of them. But I’m glad he pestered this time for a good cause.

It is relatively easy to convince children by explaining the advantages as well as disadvantages of a particular behaviour. As I also wrote in my last book (Is it really clean – Creating a WASH Index) – “It is easy to influence the mindset of children, who in turn, would be able to change the mindset and habits of the older family members. Man is the product of habits and behaviour developed in childhood”.

I would like to add another classical example of an alert and responsible young mind I witnessed recently. As a part of my daily routine, I was at my children’s school bus stand to see them off. I noticed something, very interesting. The colony cleaning staff was cleaning the roads and collecting the garbage in the dustbin (placed under the Swachch Bharat Mission) nearby. This kid (in picture) quickly surveyed around, then peeped into the bin and noticed that the cleaner has inadvertently missed some part of garbage. He promptly informed this to him and the cleaner obliged. There were many adults (including myself), who did not notice or did not bother to, but the small kid with his mighty alertness managed to contribute to the cleanliness of the locality.

There are several examples we see around us every day that suggests that children can be effectively used as the agents of changes for changing behaviours. We must also ponder if we really need to borrow the approaches from the mainstream marketing and advertising companies like engaging high profiled celebrities and expensive mass media ads to create the Behaviour Change Communications. Or can we start thinking out of box, generate some novel ideas and use children as the protagonists and change agents. The phrase “Catch them young” could yield effective results for behaviour change in the context of WASH, Health and other social issues.

Please feel free to share your views and thoughts in order to build this further….

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A Picture of Public Schools in Gautam Budh Nagar

A Picture of Public Schools in Gautam Budh Nagar

During my early age, I used to ask my father – when I will go to college/university? My father’s usual answer was, first complete your school education, get good marks and then you will be eligible to enter into a college.

Similarly, every child has a dream of experiencing a college life. But, the question arises, how children can attain the college education when there is a dearth of public schools in India. Similar situation exists in the most forward district of Uttar Pradesh which is called Gautam Buddh Nagar. It is largely a suburban district of Uttar Pradesh state in northern India. It is part of the National Capital Region (India). The district is one of the fastest growing districts of India, registering 51.52 % growth in the preceding decade, according to the census of 2011 in terms of economic growth which is estimated based on the state domestic Product. According to the 2011 census, the population of Gautam Budh Nagar is sixteen lakh forty eight thousand and one hundred fifteen. Perhaps due to its close proximity to Delhi, the literacy rates are significant, with 82.2% literacy as compared to 74.04% of the national average. The female literacy stands at 72.78% much higher than national average of 65.46%. It seems that these figures come out due to the presence of high profile urban private schools. Education as we understand is one of the prime indicators of development. My concern however is that is it the inclusive development? Are children of all strata having an access to public (Govt Schools) education? Data suggests otherwise. Data shows that the count of government schools in the district is very less.

In the Gautam Budh Nagar district, around 733 government schools exist. And surprisingly in the entire district there are only 6 secondary schools and 42 higher secondary schools. Upon looking at the data more closely, the shortage of Secondary and Senior Secondary schools and overcrowding of the students at these levels has been observed. The Figure depicts that there is one primary school per 229 children and one middle school per 223 children, but for higher grades the ratio is not so encouraging. The figures suggests that is one school per 1333 students at the secondary and senior secondary in the same district. Though, the Right to Education Act has set the motivated targets upto middle standards (upper primary) but level beyond this (secondary and higher secondary) has projected a miserable picture of number of schools across the Gautam Budh district. Thus, it is a need of an hour to look into situation positively. The further blogs will be based on the infrastructure and other aspects.

By – Nisha, Research Executive, DevInsights

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