NEW DELHI: Observing that good child health indicators were vital for India to reap benefits of its demographic dividend, the economic survey has suggested that the government combine conditional cash transfer for pregnant women to prevent open defecation under the Swachch Bharat Mission.
The survey which was presented in Parliament on Wednesday said, “It is timely to discuss how India should allocate its human capital investments, because she is currently in the middle of her demographic dividend -- a period of time when population changes give economic growth a boost by expanding the working-age share of the population.”
The survey said that research has suggested that capitalising on the demographic dividend accounted for one-third of the East Asian growth miracle. Poor early-life health has a direct later-life human capital consequence.
Taller Indian children have been seen to be considerably better readers than shorter ones. The fraction of boys able to read increase by 40 to 60 per cent as height goes from 115 to 135 centimetres.
Given that maternal health casts a long shadow on an individual’s cognitive development and life chances, investing in maternal health could become a top policy priority of the government, the survey said.
It said that the National Food Security Act of 2013 legislated a universal cash entitlement for pregnant women of at least `6,000. This programme presents a promising opportunity to help improve nutrition during pregnancy, a problem which affects both urban and rural women and the middle-class and the poor.