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Survey: India is Still Far Away from Achieving its Goal of Zero Hunger

It notes India now suffers from the double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition

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It notes India now suffers from the double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition. Wikimedia Commons

A recent nutritional survey in India finds the country is still far away from achieving its goal of zero hunger for its populous country of more than one billion. The report was jointly produced by the U.N. World Food Program and the India’s Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation.

The report, the first of its kind, provides an intimate look into the progress being made in improving the nutritional status of India’s 1.3 billion people by addressing the country’s severe food shortages. While progress is being made toward this goal, World Food Program spokesman, Herve Verhoosel said India is still far away from wiping out hunger in the country.

“The report indicates that despite positive trends and patterns in improving food security, malnutrition rates are well below acceptable levels, with large numbers of people, especially women and children, suffering from Vitamin A, iron and iodine deficiency,” said Verhoosel.

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FILE – A child eats a pomegranate collected from waste at a slum area on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Oct. 12, 2018. VOA

The report indicates stunting (low height-for-age) has declined by one fifth in India during the last decade. Nevertheless, it notes 6.4 percent of children under five are both stunted and wasted (low weight-for-height) and also are underweight. A much larger percentage, 18.1 percent of children are both stunted and underweight. These conditions are a result of insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections. Stunting can cause irreversible physical and mental impairment and wasting can lead to death in children under five.

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The report finds the prevalence of malnutrition in children between six months and five years has declined, but that of acute malnutrition, or wasting, has marginally increased. It notes India now suffers from the double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition.

In the last decade, it says the prevalence of low body mass index has decreased by more than one-third in both women and men. During the same period, it says overweight and obesity have increased from 13 to 21 percent among women and from nine to 19 percent among men. (VOA)

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Developers Can Now Start Building Hindi Skills for Alexa in India

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between

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Alexa, Amazon, Virtual Assistant
Amazon Echo led the Indian smart speakers market with 59 per cent share in 2018 (Representational image). Pixabay

Amazon on Tuesday announced that developers can now start building Alexa skills for customers in India with the new Hindi voice model available in Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

Developers would get a headstart and submit skills for certification as the company prepare to offer engaging experiences for Alexa users in one of the most spoken languages in the country, the company said in a statement.

Commercial hardware manufacturers who want to develop Alexa Built-in products for Hindi-speaking customers in India can request early access to the invite-only Alexa Voice Service (AVS) developer preview.

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create skills, or capabilities, for Alexa.

Amazon last year launched a new category of skill called “Cleo” that enables customers in India help Alexa learn Hindi and other languages. The idea was to improve Alexa’s language model and help her gradually speak in local languages.

Lawsuit, Amazon, Alexa
The lawsuit alleges Amazon of saving ‘voice prints’ of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa-enabled smart devices. Pixabay

Apart from Hindi, users can respond to Alexa’s English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other regional languages.

Alexa is currently available in over 80 countries and speaks more than 14 language variants.

One can sign up for the first webinar on Hindi skill building scheduled on July 24. Developers in India who have their Hindi-language skill certified for publication in India before July 31 would receive exclusive early bird Alexa merchandise.

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Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa, told IANS recently that the company is working on infusing regional languages capabilities in Alexa for the Indian market but these are early days.

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between. (IANS)