India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th.
Global Hunger Index
Annual Report: Jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. It was first produced in 2006. It is published every October. The 2020 edition marks the 15th edition of the GHI.
Aim of the index is to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.The calculation of GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. It is calculated on the basis of four indicators:
Undernourishment: Share of the population with insufficient caloric intake.
Child Wasting: Share of children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
Child Stunting: Share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.
Child Mortality: The mortality rate of children under the age of five.
The scoring is done on the basis of the values of the four indicators, the GHI determines hunger on a 100-point scale where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst. Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming.
Worldwide Hunger is represented by a GHI score of 18.2 (moderate level), down from a 2000 GHI score of 28.2 (serious). Following are the factors explaining the global scenario-
The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, as well as a massive outbreak of desert locusts in the Horn of Africa and other crises, are exacerbating food and nutrition insecurity for millions of people. It needs to be noted that 2020 GHI scores do not reflect the impact of Covid-19 on hunger and undernutrition. The above mentioned crises come on top of existing hunger caused by conflict, climate extremes, and economic shocks (random, unpredictable events).
Region-wise Performance: Africa South of the Sahara and South Asia have the highest hunger and undernutrition levels among world regions, with 2020 GHI scores of 27.8 and 26.0, respectively—both considered serious. SDG 2 Progress: The world is not on track to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal – known as Zero Hunger for short – by 2030.
India has a level of hunger that is falling under the “serious” category. With a score of 27.2, it ranks 94 out of 107 countries in the Index. In 2019, India’s rank was 102 out of 117 countries. India features behind Nepal (73), Pakistan (88), Bangladesh (75), Indonesia (70) among others. Out of the total 107 countries, only 13 countries fare worse than India including countries like Rwanda (97), Nigeria (98), Afghanistan (99), Liberia (102), Mozambique (103), Chad (107) among others.
Performance on the Indicators:
Undernourishment: 14% of India’s population is undernourished (2017-19). It was 16.3% during 2011-13.
Child Wasting: 17.3% (2015-19), it was 15.1% in 2010-14.
Child Stunting: 34.7%, it has improved significantly, from 54% in 2000 to less than 35% now.
Child Mortality: 3.7%, it was 5.2% in 2012.
Government of India Stand
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has criticised the report claiming that the methodology used by FAO is unscientific. According to the Government, the Global Hunger Index Report 2021 and FAO report on ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021’ have completely ignored the many facts like they have based their assessment on the results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup.
The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and Height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on a Gallup poll, based on a pure telephonic estimate of the population. The report completely disregards Government’s massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the Covid period such as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna (PMGKY) and Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme (ANBS).
We have the following initiatives by the government of India to tackle Hunger and Malnourishment in India.
Eat Right India Movement: An outreach activity organised by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for citizens to nudge them towards eating right.
POSHAN Abhiyaan: Launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2018, it targets to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls).
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana: A centrally sponsored scheme executed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, is a maternity benefit programme being implemented in all districts of the country with effect from 1st January, 2017.
Food Fortification: Food Fortification or Food Enrichment is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
National Food Security Act, 2013: The National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013 legally entitled up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
Mission Indradhanush: It targets children under 2 years of age and pregnant women for immunization against 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD).
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme: Launched on 2nd October, 1975, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme offers a package of six services (Supplementary Nutrition, Pre-school non-formal education, Nutrition & health education, Immunization, Health check-up and Referral services) to children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.