In­dia be­hind North Korea, Iraq in global hunger in­dex

Mint ST - - POLICY - BY SAYANTAN BERA sayantan.b@livemint.com NEW DELHI

Ranked 100 among 119 de­vel­op­ing na­tions, In­dia is at high end of ‘se­ri­ous’ cat­e­gory

In­dia has a “se­ri­ous” hunger prob­lem and ranks 100 among 119 de­vel­op­ing na­tions, lag­ging be­hind coun­tries such as North Korea and Iraq, said the global hunger in­dex re­port re­leased by Wash­ing­ton-based In­ter­na­tional Food Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute (IFPRI) on Thurs­day.

With a global hunger in­dex (GHI) score of 31.4, In­dia is at the high end of the “se­ri­ous” cat­e­gory, the re­port said, adding, “given that three quar­ters of South Asia’s pop­u­la­tion re­side in In­dia, the sit­u­a­tion in that coun­try strongly in­flu­ences South Asia’s re­gional score.”

In­dia’s poor per­for­mance brings to the fore the dis­turb­ing re­al­ity of the coun­try’s stub­bornly high pro­por­tions of mal­nour­ished chil­dren—more than one-fifth of In­dian chil­dren un­der five weigh too lit­tle for their height and over a third are too short for their age, IFPRI said in a state­ment.

Data from the re­port showed that In­dia’s rank (100) was lower than all its neigh­bours—nepal (72), Myan­mar (77), Bangladesh (88), Sri Lanka (84) and China (29)—ex­cept Pak­istan (106). Even North Korea (93) and Iraq (78) fared bet­ter in hunger pa­ram­e­ters and GHI rank­ings, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The re­port fur­ther said that In­dia’s poor score is one of the main fac­tors push­ing South Asia to the cat­e­gory of the worst per­form­ing re­gion on the GHI scale this year.

While coun­tries like Chile, Cuba and Turkey have a GHI score of less than 5 and ranked the best among de­vel­op­ing na­tions, na­tions like Chad and Cen­tral African Repub­lic fare the worst with a score of 43.5 and 50.9, re­spec­tively.

The GHI score is a mul­ti­di­men­sional in­dex com­posed of four in­di­ca­tors—pro­por­tion of un­der­nour­ished in the pop­u­la­tion, preva­lence of child mor­tal­ity, child stunt­ing, and child wast­ing. On the sever­ity scale, a GHI score of less than 10 means “low” preva­lence of hunger while a score of more than 50 im­plies an “ex­tremely alarm­ing” sit­u­a­tion.

Since 2000, global GHI scores have de­clined by 27%, yet one in nine peo­ple still go hun­gry around the world, the re­port said.

On In­dia, the re­port said that the coun­try’s top 1% own more than 50% of its wealth, In­dia is the world’s sec­ond largest food pro­ducer, yet it is also home to the sec­ond high­est pop­u­la­tion of un­der­nour­ished in the world.

“Even with the mas­sive scale up of na­tional nu­tri­tion-fo­cused pro­grammes in In­dia, drought and struc­tural de­fi­cien­cies have left a large num­ber of poor in In­dia at risk of mal­nour­ish­ment in 2017,” said P.K. Joshi, IFPRI’S South Asia di­rec­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to the GHI re­port, more than a fifth (21%) of chil­dren in In­dia suf­fer from wast­ing (low weight for height)—up from 20% in 2005-2006. Only three other coun­tries in this year’s Ghi—dji­bouti, Sri Lanka, and South Su­dan—show child wast­ing above 20%, and In­dia’s child wast­ing rate has not shown any sub­stan­tial im­prove­ment over the past 25 years, the re­port said.

By con­trast, the re­port said, In­dia con­sid­er­ably im­proved its child stunt­ing rate, down 29% since 2000, but even that progress leaves In­dia with a rel­a­tively high stunt­ing rate of 38.4%.

“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,” said Nivedita Varsh­neya, In­dia di­rec­tor of Welthunger­hilfe, a non-profit which co-au­thored the GHI re­port with IFPRI.

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