ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by A VaidyanathanSubscribe to A Vaidyanathan

Food Consumption and Size of People-Some Indian Evidence

food intake of a population as indices of its health and well-being has been the subject of a lively debate in recent years. One major focus of the discussion is the question raised by Sukhatme (1978, 1981, 1982) about the possibility of defining objectively the quantum of calories, protein and other nutrients necessary for people of specified age, sex and activity levels to maintain normal health. He argued that apart from the variation in food requirement between individuals falling within the same age-sex activity category (which has been well recognised), there are self-regulatory mechanisms for adjusting energy expenditure to intake which enable a given individual to maintain a normal level of activity without any significant change in body weight or loss of health despite day- to-day and week-to-week variation in the level of food intake or, to be more precise, calorie intake. Sukhatme has also cited some evidence to show that intra-individual differences are much more important than inter- individual variations. On this basis he questioned the use of average nutritional norms as the basis for judging the incidence of poverty and under-nourishment, and for deciding the policy intervention appropriate to alleviating these conditions. While the existence of intra-individual variation is now generally accepted, the factors responsible for them and, even more so, their implication for the use of average nutritional norms for measuring poverty and under-nourishment continue to be matters of controversy. (See, for example, Dandekar, 1981; Krishnaji, 1981; Srinivasan 1977; and Gopalan, 1983.) Specifically, there is some question whether the claim about intra-individual variation being more important than variations between individuals is valid for a group which does not normally get enough to eat. Mechanisms by which individuals can maintain weight, health and normal activity in the face of day-to-day variations cannot be independent of the long term mean level of intake. In any case, as Sukhatme himself recognises, the importance of intra- individual variations fails as the period over which intake observations are taken increases till eventually we are left only with variations between individuals. It has of course been suggested that biological adaptation arising from inter-actions between genetic and environmental factors can take place even over the long-run, i e, in the face of changes in the sustained level of food intake by individuals. "If nutrient constraints are encountered at a given rate of growth, the rate is slowed down to bring the nutrient demand into equilibrium with nutrient supply. By thus regulating the speed of the internal physiological 'clock' short-run equilibrium is established and the ultimate size and shape of the adult may be moulded to its environment" (Seckler 1979:5). Low levels of sustained intake may on this reasoning result in a population of smaller physical stature which may nevertheless show no greater signs of ill health or clinical malnutrition than a better fed population. But clearly this is a long term process and one which has definite limits. Whether indeed sustained low levels of intake or significant reductions in the sustained level of intake leads to mere adaptation in size without impairing health or activity is an important question of fact but one which has not been adequately explored and certainly not conclusively.1 This paper examines, on the basis of some Indian survey data, the relation between sustained mean food intake of population in different regions and their mean size and health status. We recognise that these relations are inherently complex and the relevant information of the requisite quality necessary to unravel them empirically is also difficult to get. Nevertheless some information is available, and the question of how sustained low intakes and significant reduction in mean intakes affects people is particularly important in our context because a very high proportion of the population live close to the margin of subsistence and the per capita food grain production (the major component of food) has shown a declining trend in as many as eight major states during the last two decades.2 THE AVAILABLE DATA The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has conducted several detailed field surveys of food intake, nutritional status and anthropometric measurements in different parts of India over the last 2-3 decades. Some of these enquiries are of limited scope being confined to particular towns/villages or sections of the population. But the Institute has also carried out two large-scale sample surveys which give anthropometric data for a number of states at two points of time. This body of data provides a basis for studying the size-intake relation and, with heavy qualification, changes in size over time.

Changes in Rice Farming

A Vaidyanathan Changes In Rice Farming in Selected Areas of Asia, Internationa] Rice Research Institute; Philippines, 1978; pp 166.
DURING 1971-73 the Internationa! Rice Research Institute organised a survey of farmers in 36 villages selected from six countries to find out the attitude to, and experience of, adoption of the new semi-dwarf rice varieties (MVs) as well as their effect on employment and income distribution in different parts of Asia. The initial findings of the survey were reported in a volume under the same title published in 1975. The present volume provides (a) some further analysis of the inter-village and inter-farm variations in the extent of adoption of MVs and their performance; and (b) views the experience of selected agions and villages on particular aspects of the spread and impact of MVs. The former category of papers, forming part one of the minograph, is altogether more interesting.

People s Science Movements

January 13, 1879 People's Science Movements A Vaidyanathan N Krishnaji K P Kannan THERE has been a growing realisation among scientists and social workers that science and scientific research in India, as presently taught and practised, has acquired an elitist character with little or no relevance to or concern for the needs of the people. This has led to the emergence of a number of voluntary organisations ranging from those explicitly oriented towards the 'popularisation of science to those which seek to inculcate among the masses a scientific approach to understanding society and social Lange as a necessary pre-condition for progressive social transformation. These groups, spread all over India, vary in size and scope ranging from small groups working on particular problems in a limited area to a mass movement like the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Pari- shad (KSSP). A significant feature of these new activities is that they have begun to attract highly trained scientists and technologists who have become disenchanted with the relevance of what they have learnt and what they are doing in the 'scientific establishments

HYV and Fertilisers Synergy or Substitution-A Comment

Substitution ? A Comment A Vaidyanathan IN his article entitled "HYV and Fertilisers: Synergy or Substitution''1 Kirit. Parikh contests the validity of what he calls the "conventional wisdom'' regarding the responsiveness of HYV to fertilisers. In passing, he also questions the basis for my suggestion in an earlier paper2 that the actual fertilisers response under conditions of mass application may be lower than what the SFT (Simple Fertiliser Trials) data seem to suggest, He then goes to argue that the strategy of concentrating inputs and extension in selected favourable areas to promote, intensive culture is not optimal, and that nsive development aimed at getting farmers in ail regions to use HYV (with additional research to evolve suitable HYVs for areas and crops for which they are not yet available) and promoting a widespread diffusion of fertiliser use would be more efficient. Parikh emphasises in conclusion that there is potential for increasing production manifold and that much of this potential can be realised without any basic change in land ownership or tenancy patterns. All these arguments call for comment.

Constraints on Growth and Policy Options-Reply

December 17, 1977 Constraints on Growth and Policy Options Reply A Vaidyanathan T N SRINIVASAN's comment (EPW, November 26,; 1977) challenges pretty much everything I had to say on the performance and prospects of the Indian economy in my two recent articles published in this journal (Special Number, August 1977, and September 17, 1977). Although ostensibly a comment on my articles, he has also used the occasion to launch a more general attack on opinions (especially on the role of outward oriented growth strategy) which happen to differ from his. The following response is, however, limited to only criticisms which directly relate to the arguments and judgments contained in my articles. These criticisms can be grouped broadly into three categories: (1) those relating to the explanations for the stagnation of the economy during the last decade; (2) those questioning the basis for my assessment that it is highly improbable that the rate of agricultural growth can be stepped up to anything like the targeted levels; (3) the potential for export-led industrialisation and its implications; and (4) the role of anti-poverty programmes. I shall deal with them in the same order.

On Rolling Plans

October 8, 1977 of the farming surplus to inefficient industrial ventures rather than being caused by institutional barriers to rural growth? An outsider, like the present reviewer, is unable to judge these empirical queries. Wherever the truth may lie, for him the methodological importance of Mitra's book remains unimpaired. For this book is a con crete attempt to analyse critical macro- economic relationships and government decision-making from a truly political economy perspective. Not only will it help economists to understand what makes governments tick, but also teach them how to think about the interrelationships between critical relative prices, income distribution, and power relations in developing economies. This is a far more difficult enterprise than the derivation of policy prescriptions from the maintainisation of social welfare functions, but it is the only course of action open to those in the profession who consider economics to be a serious social science rather than a mathematical playground.

Constraints on Growth and Policy Options

Constraints on Growth and Policy Options A Vaidyanathan If is the contention of this paper that (a) The possibilities of accelerating overall growth, even to the degree visualised in the long- term projections given in the revised Fifth Plan, are doubtful essentially because of the severe constraint on the possibility of stepping up the growth of agriculture and export.

Performance and Prospects of Crop Production in India

in India A Vaidyanathan This is an admittedly pessimistic assessment of the prospects for accelerating agricultural growth, at any rate in the next decade, A degree of optimism may welt have been justified a decade back. At that time, it seemed that given the abysmally low productivity and technological level of Indian agriculture, rapid growth should be relatively easy to achieve by a combination of massive investments in irrigation and fertilisers, supported by extension and credit The advent of the HYVs in the mid-sixties lent greater confidence to this view.

Pitambar Pant An Appreciation

Pitambar Pant : An Appreciation PITAMBAR PANT passed away on February 26, 1973 after a prolonged illness borne with rare courage and dignity. It was an untimely end to a career of extraordinary dedication and much achievement. He was unquestionably one of the outstanding figures on Indian Planning. As head of the Perspective Planning Division, which he organised and which he led with such distinction for over 15 years, he played a key role in shaping India's plans during the Sixties. But perhaps his more lasting contribution was to establish in government a tradition of empirical analysis in planning and policy formulation. One hopes that this tradition, .still all too weak, will be nurtured as carefully by his successors. Both in and out of government, the sweep of Pitambar" s mind, the depth of his understanding of development problems, his transparent commitment and sincerity won him the admiration of his colleagues, friends and even opponents. Even after leaving the Commission in 1970, and despite failing health, his interest never flagged and almost to the end he was full of questions, ideas and plans for further work, Pitambar's public career dates back to 1942, when, soon after graduating with a Masters degree in physics, he was drawn into the Quit India Movement. Arrest and imprisonment followed shortly. While in prison he came into close contact with Nehru, Kripalani and other national leaders. He also functioned as Nehru's M


Back to Top