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Nov 19, 2012 at 09:59pm IST

Rising malnutrition figures a wake-up call: Pranab Mukherjee

New Delhi: Terming the rising malnutrition figures in India as a wake-up call, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said checking it alone can help the country achieve the target of sustained and inclusive growth.

Launching the first-ever national Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign against malnutrition in India, the President called for a concerted drive against malnutrition and said utmost priority must be accorded to prevent it. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has earlier described malnutrition as a "national shame".

"This is disturbing.... These figures are a wakeup call for all of us and underline the need for concerted drive against malnutrition, and until we ensure good nutrition and

Rising malnutrition figures a wake-up call: President

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier described malnutrition as a 'national shame'.

health for our children and their mothers we cannot achieve our targets of sustained and inclusive growth," Mukherjee said.

Challenged by shocking levels of malnutrition among children below five years in India, 42 per cent of whom are underweight, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has roped in actor Aamir Khan and ace lyricist Prasoon Joshi to steer the awareness campaign through advertisements in all mediums - radio, print and television.

The campaign to be launched in 18 languages will see Aamir communicate the importance of good nutrition to the people and giving them tips on simple and easy ways of checking malnutrition.

Mukherjee said "utmost priority must be accorded to prevent malnutrition, as early as possible and across the life cycle, to avert irreversible cumulative deficit in our growth and development. We must do our utmost, at a time when Indian economy is on a strong positive growth trajectory."

Describing his engagement in shaping the campaign as a great learning experience as this was not easy communication, Aamir Khan said, "if our children are not healthy then we start on a back foot".