The World Bank on Wednesday expressed concern over the disturbing malnutrion of children and gender inequality in Himachal Pradesh. Despite an impressive economic growth and reduction in poverty during the past years, the hill state needs to tackle malnutrion, falling sex ratio of girls and the challenge of looking after growing number of the elderly.
Talking to the media after the release of the latest World Bank report here, World Bank Social Development Specialist Maitreyi Das said, “Despite all its achievements, Himachal is a puzzle to us. It is ahead of other states in many fields but has a lot to achieve in the field of malnutrion and female ratio.”
“The maximum number of newborn deaths take place within the first month of birth. As couples are mostly going for family planning, they often prefer boys,” the report said. “Another challenge is the increase in population of the elderly which will double by 2025 from the current seven per cent,” Das said.
“Himachal is resembling Kerala, with rising number of the elderly who need health care and social pensions, among other services,” she said. Highlighting the achievements, Das said, “The report says Himachal has seen a four-fold decline in poverty since the 1980s.” Unlike other states in northern India, employment of the weaker sex is high, according to the report. “Unlike other states, Himachal is almost free from open defecation and number of people in rural areas own land due to land redistribution,” the report said.
Atrocities against women is very low,” the report said.
The report forecasts high economic growth in the coming years, particularly in infrastructure.
The state has achieved 100 per cent in electrification since 1989. It has one of the highest literacy rates in the country. The state, with mostly mountainous areas, has a population of 6.8 million (68 lakh).