Of the 117 countries, India was ranked 102nd on the 2019 Global Hunger Index published on 15 October and has been classified as a country with “serious” levels of hunger.
India’s position on the GHI was the lowest among south Asian countries, most of which found ranks between 66 and 94.
India’s high GHI score might cause some embarrassment to the BJP government after landing on a rank much below its neighbours Pakistan (94), Bangladesh (88), Sri Lanka (66), Nepal (73) and China (25).
The result demands concern as the nation’s ranking, after showing steady improvement, has slipped from 2015, when it stood at 93. In 2017, it was placed 100th, noted The Wire.
Now in its 15th year, the GHI is jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. It calculates the levels of hunger and undernutrition worldwide and ranks countries based on four key indicators — undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.
Child wasting refers to share of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
“Wasting is most prevalent in Yemen, Djibouti, and India,” according to the GHI.
The 102nd rank means that India has failed in all four parameters.
“Because of its large population, India’s GHI indicator values have an outsized impact on the indicator values for the region,” the report noted.
It further stated, “India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 per cent — the highest wasting rate of any country in this report for which data or estimates were available.”
The data revealed that India’s poor scores were pulling South Asia down to a point where it performed worse than even sub-Saharan Africa.
This time, India was behind the other BRICS nations, with South Africa positioned ahead at 60.
India’s child stunting rate, 37.9 percent, is also categorised as very high in terms of its public health significance. “In India, just 9.6 percent of all children between 6 and 23 months of age are fed a minimum acceptable diet. As of 2015–2016, 90 percent of Indian households used an improved drinking water source while 39 percent of households had no sanitation facilities (IIPS and ICF 2017),” mentioned the report.
Though the GHI acknowledged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign and his attempts to end open defecation, but noted it has not worked well enough.
“Even with new latrine construction, however, open defecation is still practiced”. It pointed out that the situation jeopardises the health of people, especially the children, as their ability to absorb nutrients is compromised.”
Though India’s performance weighed the world down on hunger, two neighbouring South Asian countries have performed better: Bangladesh and Nepal.
Bangladesh has seen stunting decline from 58.5 percent to 49.2 percent between 1997 and 2011. While, Nepal has seen a drop in stunting from 56.6 percent in 2001 to 40.1 percent in 2011.
India’s low rank at 102 suggests that there are only fifteen other countries in this index which are worse off. Most of these are African countries – Sierra Leone, Uganda, Djibouti, Congo, Sudan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Timor-Leste, Haiti, Liberia, Zambia, Madagascar, Chad, Yemen and Central African Republic.
Fifteen countries were not included in the list as they did not have sufficient data. Forty-three countries out of 117 countries have levels of hunger that remain serious. Four countries Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia suffer from hunger levels that are alarming, reported National Herald.