Condemnation of Global Hunger Index

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    The Government of India has questioned Global Hunger Index’s methodology and sample size.

    The Global Hunger Index(GHI)

    • It has been released almost every year since 2000 .
    •  It is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels. 
    • GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators – undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality

    About Findings of Index in context of India 

    • India’s rank in the Global Hunger Index has consistently worsened in the last 10 years. 
    • India ranks 107 out of 121 countries on the Global Hunger Index in which it fares worse than all countries in South Asia barring war-torn Afghanistan
    • India also ranks below Sri Lanka (64), Nepal (81), Bangladesh (84), and Pakistan (99). Afghanistan (109) is the only country in South Asia that performs worse than India on the index.

    India’s Reaction : 

    • The ministry of Women and Child Development  said the index is an “erroneous measure of hunger” and suffers from “serious methodological issues”. 
    • Three out of the four indicators used for calculation of the index are related to the health of Children and cannot be representative of the entire population. 
    • The fourth and most important indicator estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3000.
    •  Calculating hunger based on mainly indicators relating to health indicators of children is neither scientific nor rational.
    • According to the Ministry, the report is not only disconnected from ground reality as the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has shown improvement in stunting and wasting and a significant reduction in Under-five Mortality Rate.
      • According to NFHS India has shown improvement in child nutrition indicators as stunting (height-for-age) among children under 5 years has declined from 38.4 per cent (NFHS 4 – 2015-16) to 35.5 per cent (NFHS-5 – 2019-21).
    • The index also chooses to deliberately ignore the food security efforts of the Central government especially during the pandemic.

    Various Efforts of India 

    • In the wake of economic disruptions caused by the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, the Government in March 2020 had announced the distribution of additional free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat) to about 80 Crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries at the scale of 5 Kg per person per month under the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY), over and above the regular monthly NFSA food grains i.e., regular entitlements of their ration cards. 
    • The distribution has been done through State Governments, who on their own further supplemented the efforts of the Central Government by providing pulses, edible oils and condiments etc to the beneficiaries.
    • Under Anganwadi Services, since Covid-19 pandemic, supplementary nutrition was provided to approximately 7.71 crore children upto the age of 6 years and to 1.78 crore pregnant women and lactating mothers.   
    • Under the Pradhan Mantri Matri Vandana Yojna, more than 1.5 Crore registered women were provided Rs 5000/- on the birth of their first child for wage support and nutritious food during pregnancy and post-delivery period.

    Conclusion and Way Ahead 

    • The measurement of hunger is a complex methodological issue and a challenge for statisticians and subject experts. 
      • In view of this, a robust and acceptable country-specific methodology needs to be developed to measure hunger on priority. 
        • Proxy indicators for hunger should be avoided
    • Importantly, for International comparison, there has to be a common measurement which could be developed through consensus among countries after they had developed their own measures.
    • The government would be well-advised to bolster its information repositories that can help it address malnutrition effectively

    Mains Practise Question 

    [Q]Do you think that the Global Hunger Index is “an erroneous measure of hunger” and an attempt to “taint” India’s image?