IN­DIA SLIPS 3 NOTCHES TO 100 ON GLOBAL HUNGER IN­DEX

Trails North Korea, Bangladesh, Iraq

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - SANJEEB MUKHER­JEE & AB­HISHEK WAGH­MARE

In­dia has a‘ se­ri­ous’ hunger prob­lem on hand, with the coun­try slip ping three notch es to 100 among 119 coun­tries on the Global Hunger In­dex( G HI ),2017. This is worse than the likes of North Korea, Bangladesh, and Iraq, and bet­ter than only Pak­istan and Afghanistan among Asian coun­tries. Over a three-year du­ra­tion, the coun­try has seen a slide of 45 po­si­tions from 55 in 2014. The in­dex shows that more than a fifth of In­dian chil­dren un­der the age of five weigh too lit­tle for their height and a third are too short fortheirage.

In­dia has a ‘se­ri­ous’ hunger prob­lem at hand, with the coun­try slip­ping three notches to 100 among 119 coun­tries on the Global Hunger In­dex (GHI), 2017. This is worse than the likes of North Korea, Bangladesh, and Iraq, and bet­ter only than Pak­istan and Afghanistan, among Asian coun­tries.

Over a three-year du­ra­tion, the coun­try has seen a slide of 45 po­si­tions from 55 in 2014. How­ever, the rank­ings are not strictly com­pa­ra­ble, as the cur­rent for­mula was in­tro­duced in 2015. The ear­lier for­mula was used to cal­cu­late GHI scores from 2006 to 2014.

The pri­mary dif­fer­ence is that the new for­mula stan­dard­ises in­di­ca­tor val­ues, and the ‘child un­der­weight’ pa­ram­e­ter has been re­placed by ‘child stunt­ing’ and ‘child wast­ing’.

The in­dex shows that more than a fifth of In­dian chil­dren un­der the age of five weigh too lit­tle for their height and a third are too short for their age.

At 31.4, In­dia’s 2017 GHI score is at the high end of the “se­ri­ous” cat­e­gory, and one of the main fac­tors push­ing South Asia to the cat­e­gory of the worst-per­form­ing re­gion on the in­dex this year. The re­gion is fol­lowed closely by Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. In­dia is the third-worst in all of Asia — bet­ter only than Afghanistan and Pak­istan — ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Food Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute (IFPRI), which pre­pared the re­port.

Of the 19 South, East, and South East Asian coun­tries ranked in the re­port, Ti­mor-Leste, Afghanistan, Pak­istan, In­dia, and North Korea have the worst GHI scores.

World­wide, scores of the 119 coun­tries in the re­port vary widely. A score of 9.9 or lower de­notes low hunger; while scores between 35.0 and 49.9 de­note alarm­ing hunger, and a score of 20-34.9 means ‘se­ri­ous’ prob­lem of hunger.

“With a GHI score that is near the high end of the se­ri­ous cat­e­gory, it is ob­vi­ous that a high GDP growth rate alone is no guar­an­tee of food and nu­tri­tion se­cu­rity for In­dia’s vast ma­jor­ity. In­equal­ity in all its forms must be ad­dressed now, if we are to meet Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goal 2 of Zero Hunger for ev­ery­one by 2030,” says Nivedita Varsh­neya, coun­try di­rec­tor, Welthunger­hilfe In­dia.

P K Joshi, IFPRI di­rec­tor for South Asia, says even with the mas­sive scale-up of na­tional nu­tri­tion­fo­cused pro­grammes in In­dia, drought and struc­tural de­fi­cien­cies have left a large num­ber of poor in the coun­try at the risk of mal­nour­ish­ment in 2017.

As of 2015-16, more than a fifth (21 per cent) of chil­dren in In­dia suf­fered from wast­ing (low weight for height) — up from 20 per cent in 2005-2006. Only three other coun­tries in this year’s GHI — Dji­bouti, Sri Lanka, and South Su­dan — showed child wast­ing above 20 per cent. In­dia’s child wast­ing rate has not shown any sub­stan­tial im­prove­ment in the past 25 years.

By com­par­i­son, the coun­try has made a con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment in re­duc­ing its child stunt­ing rate, down 29 per cent since 2000. But de­spite that progress, In­dia has a con­sid­er­ably high stunt­ing rate of 38.4.

Glob­ally, the Cen­tral African Repub­lic has the worst score (re­flect­ing the high­est hunger level) of any coun­try ranked in the re­port, and is the sole coun­try in the In­dex’s “ex­tremely alarm­ing” cat­e­gory.

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