Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has said that sanitation plays an important role in malnutrition and has been often neglected from nutrition debates in the country.
"You have rapid economic growth on the one hand and better health indicators, better education indicators, better indicators on water supply but you don't have them reflected in nutrition indicators," Ramesh said at the India launch of the Lancet 2013 series on maternal and child nutrition.
India, he said, was on a very sticky rate of malnutrition, which was neither going up nor down.
The minister said in his view the single most significant nutrition-sensitive information that the country had neglected was sanitation.
"There is a link between malnutrition and sanitation. Sanitation has profound implications on malnutrition but we have not laid much stress on sanitation. It has not been brought into the national agenda though nutrition is brought," he said.
He added that sanitation should be given a central place. "We should make sure that in 10 years, we should be free from open defecation."
"I found the distinction that can be made between nutrition at specific interventions and nutrition sensitive intervention a useful way of looking at this problem," he said.