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India's ranking in global hunger index needs 'serious' attention

In the 2022 Global Hunger Index, India was ranked 107th.

Credit : Rohit Pradhan

Vikas Parasram Meshram | Our country, which aspires to be a global leader, is currently suffering from hunger in such a way that even in the 2022 Global Hunger Index, it ranks worse than neighboring countries Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. In the report released on the ranking of 121 countries, India is in the 107th position, while Pakistan is in the 99th position. Sri Lanka is the best-ranked South Asian country on this list. The island nation, which is facing economic difficulties, has been ranked 64th in the index. At the same time, all but one neighbouring country, Afghanistan, fared worse than India on the hunger index. Afghanistan is ranked 109th on this list. Nepal is in the 81st position while Bangladesh is in the 84th position. This means that all these countries have been better than India in satisfying the hunger of their people.

India was ranked 101 out of 116 countries in the World Hunger Index Report 2021. It was included in the list of 31 countries where the problem of hunger was considered serious. Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar were ahead of India in the Global Hunger Index even last year. And even then, the Indian government had objected to the report, questioning the credibility of the index.

The Global Hunger Index is a comprehensive means of measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional and national levels. Its criteria are usually calculated on the values ​​of four indicators. The first measure is how malnourished the population is, that is, how many people in the total population are living with fewer calories than they need. The second criterion is the health status of children. This means how many children under 5 years of age are underweight for their height. The third criterion relates to child stunting, which refers to the number of children under the age of 5 years who are not tall enough for their weight. The last criterion is related to infant mortality. It considers how many children under 5 years die before completing 5 years.



Simply put, undernutrition, severe infant malnutrition, stunted growth and child mortality are the factors used to measure the Global Hunger Index, which has a total of 100 percentage points, based on which a country's level of hunger is indicated. That is, if a country has a score of zero, it is in very good shape, and if one has a score of 100, it is in very bad shape. India's score is 29.1 which falls into the severe category.

Malnutrition among children in India is critical. Among the four criteria that are measured, there is also the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children, which was found to be 19.3 percent in India this time compared to 15.1 percent in 2014. This is a serious regression. On the other hand, if we talk about the overall rate of malnutrition, it has also increased significantly. This ratio shows the extent to which the total population of the country is facing food shortage.

According to the index, malnutrition in India was 14.6 percent between 2018 and 2020, it has increased to 16.3 percent from 2019 to 2021. Accordingly, out of a total of 828 million people facing malnutrition in the world, 224 million people are in India alone. However, there is some good news for India in this index. India has definitely improved in two aspects of this index.

Among other parameters, India scored 35.5 percent in child development stunting in 2022 compared to 38.7 percent in 2014. At the same time, the infant mortality rate has fallen from 4.6 percent to 3.3 percent. The score was 28.2 in 2014 but has increased to 29.1 in 2022.

The report includes a total of 44 countries, including India, whose situation is at a dangerous level. Apart from this, there are a total of 17 top countries with a score of less than 5. These countries include China, Turkiye, Kuwait, Belarus, Uruguay and Chile. On the other hand, among Muslim-majority countries, the UAE ranks 18th, Uzbekistan 21st, Kazakhstan 24th, Tunisia 26th, Iran 29th and Saudi Arabia 30th.

In 2015, India was ranked 93. India's child malnutrition rate has since reached 19.3 percent, which is the highest in the world.



Interestingly, during the tenure of the Modi government, India's position in the index has been steadily declining. When the Modi government came to power in 2014, the country was ranked 55th. But now it is reeling every year in front of the dream of a 5 trillion economy. As such, India has overtaken Britain to become the world's fifth-largest economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But recently, in the latest report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India's economy has been projected to grow at 6.8 percent in 2022, up from 7.4 percent earlier. The IMF has also said that the growth rate is likely to decline further in 2023, forecasting it to be 6.1 percent. However, the report also states that India's economy is the largest among all major economies in the world and it will grow the fastest among all major economies in the world.

In such a situation, once again the Modi government is trying to reject the report, calling it an "erroneous" measure. The 5 trillion economy has been claimed by the government, but it has also been denying every assessment that reveals its failure. It is being presented as an international conspiracy to malign the image of the country.  The disease of intolerance towards dissent has grown to such an extent that the government has begun to suspect even impartial international organisations and agencies.

However, it is true that no index is 100 percent accurate. No matter how scientific methods are followed, there is always room for error.  But it does give a clear picture of the whole situation so that we can improve our future policies and programmes.  In such a situation, instead of trying to influence these rankings, the government should reform its practices so that the lives of the common man are better.