Is India Really Low on Global Hunger Index???
Is India really so low on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) as shown in the recent report of the UN? On one side the GDP is growing, Child Mortality is rapidly declining and a better food distribution system was enforced after the Food Security Act in July 2013, all these measures should have had a direct positive impact on the GHI. Then why the current GHI is showing India slipping off, that to in comparison with several other nations where we know people have been and are hungry? With Indian Economy becoming the 4th largest in the world, surely the all nationals are the beneficiaries…rich and poor, old and young. It could be expected that some of the parameters taken, would have been of previous years; but even then putting India below the nations like Nepal, Pakistan, Srilanka, Bangladesh etc is ridiculous to say the least.
Let us consider as to how the GHI is calculated. Firstly, for each country, values are determined for four indicators as mentioned below:
1. Undernourishment of the population whose caloric intake is insufficient;
2. Child wasting of children under the age of five (who have low weight for their height);
3. Child stunting under age of five, lesser height for age reflecting chronic undernutrition; and
4. Child mortality rate under the age of five.
Secondly, each of the four component indicators is given a standardized score on a 100-point scale based on the highest observed level for the indicator on a global scale in recent decades.
Thirdly, standardized scores are aggregated to calculate the GHI score for each country, with each of the three dimensions (inadequate food supply; child mortality; and child undernutrition,
which is composed equally of child stunting and child wasting).
Fallacies in the collection of Indicators
India is having a vast population, under diversity, with several variables. Hence, any data collection must be carefully sampled lest it will run the risk of non-representative of the target population. It is Govt of India's own wrongly sampled data that are being used to generate GHI score. Hence, clearly, the Govt department is to be blamed.
Undernourishment among the poor has been common in India before Food Security Act came in force in 2013, Thereafter, Child wasting has far reduced. Hence, the Indian Score on this parameter should have been improving gradually. Since April 2020 after Govt is supplying free rations to 80 Cr people (incl the poor and those who lost livelihood owing to Covid19), undernourishment/Child wasting and stunting should have been very uncommon event. Surely, the data is misleading. Further, for any child to be declared stunted, parents’ height must be taken into account which is not been done. Lastly, we are aware that the Child mortality rate has been declining all through (74/1000 in 2005, 64 in 2009 to 45 in 2014, to 36 in 2018, to 35 in 2019 & 2020). Hence, apart from obvious anomalies in the data collection, there also seem to be issues with the indicator parameters. As such, the GHI variation with abruptness such as jumps in raking from 102 in 2019 to 94 in 2020; again 101 in 2021 to 107 in 2022 reports.
India slipping 6 positions in the GHI means from 2021 to 2022 either of the two occurrences…firstly that Indian parameters have deteriorated or the parameters of other nations have improved with the latter being a possibility though. However, Indian parameters of the GHI have apparently far improved that is not being reflected in the UN figure of the GHI. Although there are deficiencies in the data collection and coalition itself as mentioned above, the latest Indian ranking of 107 on the Global Hunger Index looks malicious. UN will do better to avoid such attempts.
Napping Indian Govt
Indian govt and the ministers woke up from their sleeps after knowing the last year itself (after 2021 GHI Score) of the anomalies in the UN calculations of the GHI when India suddenly slipped down 6 steps, they should have been proactive in taking up the matter with the UN. Instead, they woke up only after the recent report was already published. It reflects very poor of the current sets of ministers under Modi Govt. We all know that India is surely not 107 in the Global Hunger. There are problems in India's own data collection because the UN has been using India's own data. Wake up Modi Govt.