Unhealthy Promotions- Banning toys with food products meant for Children

February 21, 2011.

Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad

Minister of Health & Family Welfare

Nirmal Bhawan, New Delhi – 110108

Subject: For Immediate action-banning of toys given as free gifts with food products & drinks, & framing guidelines on Child Health & Preventive care

Hon’ble Minister,

I am writing this important petition on behalf of the Disease Management Association of India – DMAI; The Population Health Improvement Alliance. DMAI is founded by global healthcare leaders to help improve the population health in India by focusing on the entire continuum of care.

In November 2010, during my visit to the US , I was with Senator Tom Daschle ( Senator Tom was nominated as Health & Human Services Secretary by President Obama , which he declined, and is often referred to as a senior Advisor & Mentor to President Obama). During the discussion, he asked me; how is India a better bet than China? I told him that, in the next three decades, while India will have majority of working age population, China will have one working person and three retired persons. This should put China in serious productivity issue!! India is the youngest nation today, with an average age of approximately 25.9 years, and this is often referred as a ‘demographic dividend’.

While statistically, India is having a tremendous demographic dividend , if we do not attend to the ‘ Child Health’ as a top priority , our demographic dividend will become a ‘Demographic Disaster’, as our working population would be ‘Unhealthy’ and thus drastically impact the productivity of the nation . This is the biggest hurdle for India to attend, if we need to overtake China in the long-term for being a developed & a vibrant economy

For Immediate action: Media has proliferated & children have dedicated channels on TV.They watch T.V. , which is flooded with animated cartoons & other Sci-fi serials, and children get fancied with such shows. The companies have started giving the characters associated with these shows as free gifts to entice the children to buy their food products and drinks. So children force their parents to buy the foods stuff or drinks just for the sake of these ‘Freebies’ , and they also consume these products, so that the parents do not scold them for spending so much on these food items !! Due to this, our children are fast becoming obese & unhealthy!! Just for the sake of an example , I am quoting my son who buys Mc Donald’s ‘Happy Meal’ just for the sake of getting the toy that comes free with it & I can see that he is least interested in the meal , but then he consumes the ‘Burger’ , and ‘Cold Drinks’ that comes with the ‘Happy Meals’ to ensure that next time he gets a chance to buy the Happy Meal from Mc Donald again and most importantly , get the free toy . He already weighs 40 KG at the age of 7 years. Luckily, he has joined the Gym with me. But imagine, the severely ‘Obese’ children that are a result of such ‘Unhealthy’ Promotions with food products meant for children. I have just quoted Mc Donald for the sake of example, but we have most of the companies selling ‘Unhealthy foods’ with promotions aimed at enticing children, playing for their ignorance and their intense desire for playing with toys!

Through this note, I call upon the policy makers to ban such toys and also the advertisements related to such promotions in national media with immediate effect. I also call upon the ‘responsible’ companies to sell & market their products for ‘nutritional value’ and not on ‘Unhealthy promotions’ or ‘Freebies’.

Also, the MOHFW should come up with “hand book on Preventive Healthcare for Children” below 12 years If we fail to take immediate and strict action now, our future generations will grow up to curse this generation for inaction, and the nation will be burdened by poor productivity and high healthcare costs with no signs of health ! It is a call to action . I do look forward to prompt action on the same from all the concerned.

If the policy makers fail to take action, DMAI will initiate a nation-wide campaign for such ‘unhealthy promotions’.

With best regards

Rajendra Pratap Gupta


Sonia Gandhi ,Rahul Gandhi , Dr.Manmohan Singh , Dr.Murli Mahohar Joshi , Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad Min,  for information & Broad Casting,  Montek Singh Ahluwalia,  Dr.Syeda Hameed,  Shri L.K.Advani , Smt. Sushma Swaraj,  Shri Dinesh Trivedi , Sitaram Yechury , Members of Parliament , Sam Pitroda , Secy, Health & Family Welfare, GOI , Dr. K. Srinath Reddy , Chief Minister’s of States,  Media

Budget Expectations – Preventive Care

January 25th , 2011. 

Shri Pranab Mukherjee

Minister for Finance

Government of India

North Block,

New Delhi -110001

Subject : One action item in the budget for 2011-12 that can raise the GDP by 1-3 %

Dear Pranab Da ,

I am sure that your team is working hard to find a balance between maintaining the growth, reducing inflation , keeping the debt within reasonable limits , and still maintain India as one of the most appealing investment destination for foreign investors !! I know that it is quite a challenge, but we are sure that your team will achieve it under your leadership

I am making this request on behalf of The Disease Management Association of India ; DMAI- The Population Health Improvement Alliance . At DMAI, we work with various stake holders to bring about a lasting improvement in our healthcare system Healthcare in India is a big economic issue and is fast turning out to be a social & a political issue .

Let me walk you through one reality – Healthcare is not an individual issue , it is a family issue . Take the case of a person suffering from just one of the chronic diseases like Arthritis, Diabetes , Cardiac disease or Cancer (It is a known fact, that by the time an Indian reaches the age of forty , he is either at the risk of or suffering from a chronic disease) . If a person in family suffers from a chronic disease , not only does that person lose his efficiency ( productivity ) , but loses many work days every year due to treatment and restrictions imposed during the course of treatment . In addition to the person having a direct loss in his productivity , his entire family has to make some adjustments & sacrifices , thereby having a cascading effect on the productivity of the entire family !! Ultimately, this affects the entire family , organizations where these people are working , and finally pulls down the productivity of the entire nation directly , which is what I understand as the GDP of our nation !

Pranab Da, just consider one step in your budget , and you would be the first Finance minister in the world to have given top priority to health to boost the productivity of a nation !

I am hopeful that you will allow expenses in meditation , Yoga , Swimming pool , fitness centers, Gyms & preventive health check-ups to be included in the rebate for income tax -Just like we have health insurance premiums which qualify for tax rebate . Health insurance is nothing but transferring the risk and payment to a pool, but what we need desperately in India is “Health Assurance” – avoiding diseases , and that means, we need to encourage healthy habits & provide appealing benefits to people to take to activities that promote fitness and take away sickness !!

I am sure that you will consider to levy a 4 % service tax on all the providers of services like meditation training , Yoga classes , Swimming pools , fitness centers, Gyms & preventive health check-ups , but also give rebate to the citizens who enroll in such activities . Further , I would request you to give equal rebate to Health insurance & Health Assurance in this budget in terms of the total amount qualifying for the rebate in income tax.

I am very sure that, the ministry of Finance and the entire nation would gain from the healthy population in terms of enhanced productivity and lesser loss of man days , in addition to a healthy collection of taxes from the service providers in the fitness segment that will add up the numbers drastically. I personally believe that this one step that has the potential to raise the GDP of the nation by a minimum of 1 % and can go as high as 3 % additional increase in GDP , which means that by 2012, India can grow at 10-12 % in terms of GDP by just taking one step in this budget !

In addition to the growth in GDP , our future generations would always feel indebted to your selves ,for taking this most important decision for bettering the healthcare of individuals & raising the productivity of the nation

I am sure that this very important recommendation would be considered positively and acted upon!

We will always remain thankful to you for the kind consideration

Yours in good health

Rajendra Pratap Gupta


Sonia Gandhi Rahul Gandhi Dr.Manmohan Singh Dr.Murli Mahohar Joshi Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad Montek Singh Ahluwalia Dr.Syeda Hameed. Shri L.K.Advani Smt. Sushma Swaraj Shri Dinesh Trivedi Sitaram Yechury Members of Parliament Sam Pitroda Secy , Health & Family Welfare , GOI Dr.K.Srinath Reddy Chief Minister’s of States Dr.Salim Hebayeb, WHO Gerard M La Forgia , World Bank


Healthy Foods – A must have

Rajendra Pratap Gupta


Dated: October 22nd, 2010.

  1. Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad

Hon’ble Minister for Health & Family Welfare

Government of India

Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi -110108.

2. CEO’s of the industry

Subject: An important appeal

Dear Shri Azad ji & CEO’s ,

This appeal needs your esteem, kind and personal attention.

Disease Management Association of India (DMAI ) – The Population Health Improvement Alliance is thankful to the Ministry of Health & Family welfare for taking action on its recommendations for health reforms appeal sent last year ( dated November 23rd 2009 ). Members, associated organizations and the Board of Directors of DMAI – The Population Health Improvement Alliance, are highly appreciative of the steps that the current government is taking to tackle the healthcare issues concerning our nation.

One area where DMAI feels that the Ministry & the industry have to draw its focus and attend urgently is:

  • Issue guidelines & standards  ( and enforce them ) with regards to the food served in airlines , railways , other public transports, government canteens, private dining establishments, School canteens &  packed foods ( all forms )
  • All such foods / foods items must carry the calorific intake for each serving
  • The customer must be given a choice of low calorie, low glycemic index, and zero cholesterol options rather than forcing them to eat unhealthy foods that adds to the disease burden of this nation.
  • Above all, all packaged food companies must carry tips for good health on the individual packs – at least a one liner if not more!!

It is proven that Indians are genetically susceptible to circulatory disorders , and that we can only fight it by inculcating healthy eating habits by educating the public on healthy foods,  promoting healthy foods ,and at last , giving them an option to eat what is good for their health .

I have personally experienced that all the airlines, Indian railways, public transport and eateries are serving foods that have a high glycemic index, high in fat content and are loaded with calories that remain in the body as excess fats. Such foods are a slow poison for consumers!!  This is the main cause of India becoming a diseased nation, and the alarming rise in the obesity amongst children in addition to diabetes and hypertension.  DMAI had conducted a random Health Risk Assessment with 2000 people in association with IIHMR, Delhi.  The revelations have been shocking!! We have an abnormally high incidence of diabetes, hypertension and obesity. It’s a call to action.

We have to aim at keeping the BMI of Indians below 23, and today, it is shocking that about 50 % of Urban Indians are either at the risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension or joint pains or suffering from it.

By the time Indians reach forty years of age, they become patient of one form of illness or another. It is high time that we all get together and put efforts to make India a healthier nation. We cannot just blame the government for the healthcare issues and leave it to handle this issue alone!

Through this appeal, we expect all the airlines, public transport and eateries to ensure that they serve healthy food and carry the total calorific intake for each serving.

It is also expected that that all the concerned will take the  health of Indians as a top priority in all the offerings when it comes to foods intake , and give options like brown bread , sugar substitutes , low calorie and low fat meals as an option and not force the passengers & customers to eat high calorie meals.

DMAI is committed to working with all the major stake holders in the entire continuum of care to bring about a population health improvement through actionable steps

We expect the government to formulate definite guidelines on this issue, and the industry to take a proactive approach. Work place wellness must be focused on by the HR captains and CEO’s of all the ‘responsible’ corporations.

DMAI appreciates the proactive approach of the government to ensure healthcare for all. Should the government agencies need any assistance in drafting guidelines or in the implementation plan, DMAI would be more than happy to volunteer for the same

In hope of the needful



Dr.Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister

Ms.Sujatha Rao, Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, GOI

Shri Dinesh Trivedi, MOS, HFW

Dr.K.Srinath Reddy, President, PHFI

Health Minister of States

CEO, Jet Airways, King Fisher Airlines, Goair, Indigo, Air India, Spicejet

Minister for Railways

Ministry of HRD / Ministry of Labour / Ministry of Civil Aviation

Koutenya Sinha, Editor Health, Economic Times

Sonal Shukla, Hindustan Times

Priyanka, DNA news

Rajdeep Sardesai

Barkha Dutt

CII, ASSOCHAM, FICCI & CIAT to circulate this to all its members