Views & Reviews Personal View

Law on infant foods inhibits the marketing of complementary foods for infants, furthering undernutrition in India

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 30 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8131

Re: Law on infant foods inhibits the marketing of complementary foods for infants, furthering undernutrition in India

Administrators have an important role in enhancing the health and quality of life of those they administer. They contribute as an implementer, idea generator and opinion maker. The realities of the world we live in, weigh their opinion favorably and as actionable.

Health and nutrition issues plaguing the future of humanity are a recipe of a failed society. Hence the scholastically sound view expressed by the author needs a dispassionate deliberation as it raises some concerns. Communication should impress a point rather than merely be impressive. The opening paragraph tries to impress with data but is an oxymoron. Demographically India has a higher relative population of children. We know that every sixth human is an Indian but every fifth child is an Indian. The average per capita calorie consumption is consistently falling over last two decades despite it being already low by world standards. India is emerging as an economy yet the administrators (belonging to same cadre as the author) continue to lower the income threshold for poverty (presently < 0.6 US Dollars/ day) to cover their failures. The UNICEF webpage cited by the author supporting her data, warns that the childhood malnutrition is more due to infrastructural and administrative failure than the food availability/ intake issues. It would have been desirable if an administrator had tried to address the issues that indicate the failure of system she heads rather than advocate a solution that can become a yet another milk cow for the corruption tainted Indian administration, the spine of which is Indian Administrative Services (IAS). The suspicion of having a vested agenda to pursue gets stronger due to author’s IAS background and influence peddling association with an entity that is non-profit on books but derives sustenance by patronizing from a thorough commercial entity. The patron will be the direct beneficiary as a potential provider of the complementary foods as being advocated by the author.

Being an Indian, I am not un-surprised even an iota’s bit, as it is a common practice for the top Indian policy makers/ administrators to accept post-retirement sinecures that come to them because of their public service/IAS based profile and are offered as a barter for their influence and loyality. Such influence holders can potentially shift the social fulcrum beyond a tipping point. The numerical handicap of these lobbyists is no true handicap, as we know that a small fraction of committed minority opinion can lead to evolution of social consensus in their favor over a very short time frame.[1] We as medical scientists should have an healthy contempt for the opinion makers who hide their failure by touting convenient statistics and displaying concerns that point towards a sincere self-interest.

Dr. Brij B. Agarwal

1. Xie J, Sreenivasan S, Korniss G, Zhang W, Lim C, Szymanski BK. Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities. Soft Matter Phys. 2011 Jul;84(1 Pt 1):011130.

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 December 2012
Brij B. Agarwal
General Surgeon
Nayan Agarwal, Krishna A. Agarwal
University College of Medical Sciences & Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, Dr. Agarwal's surgery, New Delhi, India.
Dr. Agarwal's Surgery & Yoga, F-81 Street# 4, Virender Nagar, New Delhi-110058. India