Global Hunger Index: India Slips Six Notches To 107th Position; Level Of Hunger Termed 'Serious'

Seventeen countries, including China, Turkey, and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI score of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index that tracks hunger and malnutrition said on Saturday.

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India has slipped six notches and reached 107th position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022 of 121 countries, from its 2021 position of 101st. India now is lagging behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

What is Global Hunger Index (GHI)?

Hunger is the most eye-opening ramification of poverty which, in turn is the dreadful outcome of a complex cascading chain of events including political governance, socio-economic condition, equality, health, educational background and so on.

Global Hunger Index (GHI), the worldwide hunger monitoring repertoire, is a quantitative measuring index that tracks hunger across the globe and ranks the respective countries based on certain  indicative parameters including undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height), child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).

According to the official website of the Global Hunger Index, seventeen countries, including China, Turkey, and Kuwait, have secured the top rank with GHI score under than five.

India's position in Global Hunger Index

In 2021, India ranked 101 out of 116 countries. Now with 121 countries in the list, it has dropped to the 107th rank. India's GHI score has also decelerated - from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.2 - 29.1 between 2014 and 2022.

According to the GHI report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, the extent of hunger prevalent in India is  termed as "serious".

From a 2000 GHI score of 38.8 points, considered alarming, India's score has decreased to a 2022 GHI score of 29.1, considered serious. India’s proportion of undernourished in the population is considered to be at a medium level, and its under-five child mortality rate is considered low. While child stunting has seen a significant decrease from 54.2 percent in 1998–1999 to 35.5 percent in 2019–2021 it is still considered very high. At 19.3 percent—according to the latest data—India has the highest child wasting rate of all countries covered in the GHI. This rate is higher than it was in 1998–1999, when it was 17.1 percent.

How did the government respond?

In 2021 when India fcrossed the 100th rank, Centre slammed the GHI report and called it ''shocking" and "devoid of ground reality". The government raised questions on the methodology deployed to ascertain the quantitative position and called it unscientific.

"It is shocking to find that the Global Hunger Report 2021 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO (UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation) estimate on proportion of undernourished population, which is found to be devoid of ground reality and facts and suffers from serious methodological issues. The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report," the government had said in a statement.

"The methodology used by FAO is unscientific. They have based their assessment on the results of a 'four question' opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup. There is no scientific methodology to measure undernourishment like availability of food grains per capita during the period. The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population," it had said.

Political responses

Citing the current report, Congress MP P Chidambaram, said our score has worsened since 2014 in the 8 years of the Narendra Modi-led government. 

"When will the Hon'ble PM address real issues like malnutrition, hunger, and stunting and wasting among children?" he asked on Twitter. 

“BJP gives speeches to make a 5-trillion economy. But we are also at number 107 on the hunger index…. Even 106 countries, up to Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, are better than us at providing bread two times. India cannot become number 1 without providing good education to every child.”, tweeted AAP leader and Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia.

Minister of Municipal Administration and Urban Development of Telangana, K T Rama Rao, took to Twitter and wrote, “Yet another day & yet another amazing achievement of NPA Govt. India slipped from 101st to 107th rank in Global Hunger Index . Instead of accepting failure, am sure BJP jokers will dismiss the report as anti-Indian now.”