In lieu of this, the paper suggested that expenditure towards the welfare of women and children need to be higher, since the country hosts 50 percent of under-nourished children of the world, and women and girl children fall last in the household food serving.
Quoting data from the National Family Health Survey-4, the ASSOCHAM-EY paper noted that close to 60 percent of our children aged between 6 - 59 months are anemic. It is only about 10 percent of the country's total children who are receiving adequate diet.
Furthermore, about 55 percent of non-pregnant women and 58 percent of pregnant women aged between aged 15-49 years are anemic.
"A large part of India continues to consume non-nutritious, non-balanced food either in the form of under-nutrition, over-nutrition or micronutrient deficiencies. It is important to understand that mal-nutrition derives not just from lack of food but from a diverse set of inter-linked processes linking health care, education, sanitation, hygiene, access to resources and women empowerment", the paper said.
ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat said the government needs to pursue policies which "focus on removing health and social inequities. Programmes and policies that aim to address the nutrition burden present a double - win situation".
The adverse, irreversible and inter-generational impacts of malnutrition make optimal nutrition critical to the development of the country as a whole and all its citizens.
The paper said in order to cater to the large unmet needs of micro-nutrients, it is imperative to focus on production diversity as well as food fortification at a macro level.
For instance, millets are three to five times more nutritious than rice and wheat in terms of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. They are cost effective crops as well; yet considered as poor people's crop while rice and wheat are preferred over them. Millets are rich in Vitamin B, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and are gluten-free. They are suitable for people with gluten allergies or those with high blood sugar levels.