Hunger and Nutrition Issues – GHI, GNI, etc.

Reality Check on India’s Hunger Index Rank

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Hunger Index

Mains level : Global Hunger Index, Indias Stance,issues with the index.

Hunger

Context

  • For the second time in two years, the Ministry of Women and Child Development rejected the Global Hunger Index (GHI) that ranked India 107 among 121 countries. India was accorded a score of 29.1 out of 100 (with 0 representing no hunger), placing it behind Sri Lanka (66), Myanmar (71), Nepal (81) and Bangladesh (84). It referred to the index as “an erroneous measure of hunger”.

All you need to know about Global Hunger Index

  • Annual report: The GHI is a peer reviewed annual report that endeavours to “comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels”. Authors of the report primarily refer to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2(SDG 2) that endeavours to achieve ‘Zero Hunger’ by 2030.
  • Four Indicators: According to them, the report attempts to “raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger”. The GHI score is computed using four broad indicators under nourishment (measure of the proportion of the population facing chronic deficiency of dietary energy intake), child stunting (low height for age), child wasting (low weight for height) and child mortality (death of a child under the age of five).

Why these four Indicators are considered?

  • To acknowledge undernourishment: As per the authors, it provides a basis to measure inadequate access to food and is among the lead indicators for international hunger targets, including the UN SDG 2. Child stunting and mortality, offers perspective about the child’s vulnerability to nutritional deficiencies, access to food and quality of nutrition.
  • To address urgent requirement of nutrition: Since children (especially below five) are at a developmental age there is a greater and urgent requirement for nutrition with results particularly visible. This forms the basis of assessing nutritional requirement among children. Adults are at a sustainable age they are not growing but rather subsisting on nutrition for healthy survival. And lastly, on the same rationale, child mortality indicates the serious consequences of hunger.
  • Uses data provided by Government: It explains that while FAO uses a suite of indicators on food security, including two important indicators — prevalence of undernourishment and prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity. The GHI only uses the data obtained through food balance sheets based on data reported by member countries, including India.
  • Shows a picture of food supply chain: A food balance sheet provides a comprehensive picture of the pattern of a country’s food supply during a specified reference period. It lists down the source of the supply and its utilisation specific to each food category.
  • Takes into account three child specific indicators: On why the GHI uses three child specific indicators out of the four to calculate hunger for a country’s population, the website explains, By combining the proportion of undernourished in the population(1/3 of the GHI score) with the indicators relating to children under age five (2/3of the GHI score), the GHI ensures that both the food supply situation of the population as a whole and the effects of inadequate nutrition within a vulnerable subset of the population are captured.
  • International recognition: A Senior Policy Officer at the GHI said that, “All four indicators used in the calculation of the global hunger are recognised by the international community, including India, and used for measuring progress towards the UN SDGs.”

Hunger

What are the Objections of Government of India?

  • Very small sample size of the Index: As per the Ministry for Women and Child Development, the report lowers India’s rank based on the estimates of the Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population. It elaborates that the U.S. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimate is based on the ‘Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)’ survey module conducted using the Gallup World Poll that bears a sample size of 3,000 respondents being asked eight questions. It stated that the data represented a miniscule proportion for account of India’s size.
  • Counter assertion by India’s dietary supply is increasing: It countered the assertions in the report pointing to India’s per capita dietary energy supply increasing year on year due to enhanced production of major agricultural commodities in the country over the years.
  • Index doesn’t reflect the actual ground reality: According to the Ministry, the report is not only disconnected from ground reality but also chooses to ignore the food security efforts of the Central government especially during the pandemic.
  • Efficient PMGKAY: The Union Cabinet through the Pradhan Mantri Garib KalyanAnn Yojana (PMGKAY) provisioned an additional 5 kg ration per person each month in addition to their normal quota of food grains.

Hunger

What are the Government efforts to address the hunger issue so far?

  • The Midday Meal Scheme: The Midday meal is a school meal programme in India designed to better the nutritional standing of school-age children nationwide.
  • The programme supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres, Madrasa supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labour.
  • Serving 120 million children in over 1.27 million schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centres, the Midday Meal Scheme is the largest of its kind in the world.
  • PM-POSHAN: The name of the scheme has been changed to PM-POSHAN (Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman) Scheme, in September 2021, by MoE (Ministry of Education), which is nodal ministry for the scheme.
  • The Central Government also announced that an additional 24 lakh students receiving pre-primary education at government & government-aided schools would also be included under the scheme by 2022.

Hunger

Conclusion

  • No country becomes great by dwarfing its people. India has certainly improved its poverty and hunger problems but there is still lot of ground yet to cover. Global hunger index may have exaggerated the India’s hunger issue but hunger problem in India is real if not substantial.

Mains Question

Q.Explain the methodology used by global hunger index report and India’s objection to it. What are the initiatives of government to reduce the hunger problem in India?

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