Several organisations came together Wednesday and pledged to build a social movement with their staff and customers supporting the government's 'Poshan Abhiyaan' to make India healthy and free of malnutrition.
The 'IMPAct4Nutrtion' platform convened by UNICEF, Tata Trusts, Sight and Life, CSRBOX, CII, WeCan and NASSCOM Foundation was launched to provide an opportunity to the private sector to be part of a large initiative that will positively impact the nutritional and health status of India.
Niti Aayog Advisor Alok Kumar said one-third of the children in India have stunted growth and tackling malnutrition is a key challenge for the country.
"This needs to change for a nation that is doing well in many other areas, and we need to come together to tackle the problem of malnutrition," he said.
Kumar said the government, with its schemes, has done a lot to strengthen the supply side response but needs cooperation from the private sector and the civil society to address the demand side.
For example, junk food products are available in all kinds of convenient packs. The private sector can take up experimental projects to come up with similar packages and solutions for nutritious food, he said.
"Only nine per cent of the children in the age group six to 24 months in our country receive adequate nutrition. Perhaps the main reason is lack of awareness around nutrition issues. This requires inducing behavioral change in a campaign mode to reach every household," he said.
The launch event saw new commitments and updates from companies, industry associations, development partners and the Government of India on how to scale up nutrition and make sure that nutrition really does become everyone's business.
Even before the formal launch, Bosch, Arvind Mills, Moody's Analytics and CareNX Innovations pledged their support to the platform.
The UNICEF, in a statement, said, this quick endorsement by the private sector is a testament to the need for actively developing engagement strategies for working with the private sector and promoting good nutrition.
On the occasion, Arjan De Waqt, OIC Deputy Representative at UNICEF India said, "According to the 'Copenhagen Consensus' investing in nutrition is the best public health investment one can make.
"For every dollar of investment, there is a return of USD 16 due to employee retention, dip in absenteeism and increased productivity. When you reach out to employees, their families and customers and empower them to improve their nutritional status, you benefit the business."
"The private sector has not only the resources, but the convening power to improve nutrition awareness in the country. After all, the private sector employs the largest share of a country's workforce and through 'IMPAct4Nutrition' it can directly influence the nutritional status of its business ecosystem," he said.
'IMPAct4Nutrition' will engage companies in three strategic areas, which businesses term as the ACE card and this includes assets/core business for nutrition, cash/CSR for nutrition as well as employee engagement for nutrition, the UNICEF statement said.