India slams ‘methodology’ of Global Hunger Index

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    Recently ,India rejected the Global Hunger Index 2022 ranking, saying the index suffers from serious methodological issues.

    • It ranked India 107 out of 121 countries 

    About Global Hunger Index

    • 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 
      • Child mortality. 
    • The GHI score is calculated on a 100-point scale reflecting the severity of hunger, where zero is the best score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst.
    • India’s score of 29.1 places it in the ‘serious’ category. 

    Government’s Responses and Rationale behind them 

    • The Ministry of Women and Child Development  referred to the index as “an erroneous measure of hunger”. 
    • 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 indicator, estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU), population is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3000 based on “Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” Survey Module of Food and Agriculture Organisation
    • The report is not only disconnected from ground reality but also chooses to deliberately ignore the food security efforts of the Central government especially during the pandemic. 
      • The Union Cabinet through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojna (PM-GKAY), provisioned an additional five kg ration per person each month in addition to their normal quota of foodgrains as per the National Food Security Act. It was recently extended to December 2022.
    • It exaggerates the measure of hunger, lacks statistical vigour, has a problem of multiple counts, and gives higher representation to under-five children.”
    • it has the potential to both influence government action and generate aggressive pushback..

    Response of GHI 

    • The GHI says on its website that it doesn’t use FIES, but only uses prevalence of undernourishment indicator which is assessed by FAO using the Food Balance Sheet, which is based primarily on data officially reported by member countries including India. 
      • These show the trends in the overall national food supply, disclose changes that may have taken place in the types of food consumed, i.e. the pattern of the diet, and reveal the extent to which the food supply of the country, as a whole, is adequate in relation to nutritional requirements.
    • The GHI uses three children-related indicators out of the total four to assess hunger levels for an entire country to ensure “that both the food supply situation of the population as a whole and the effects of inadequate nutrition within a particularly vulnerable subset of the population are captured.

    Conclusion and Way Forward 

    • To ensure transparency, it is essential that international agencies only use data that are freely available in the public domain along with key characteristics such as education, residence and age of the respondents
      • In this case, the uncritical use of questions is particularly problematic because FAO has not released standard errors for their estimates, making it difficult for us to evaluate whether the growth in the proportion of households experiencing hunger in India,. 
    • There is a need to evaluate the representativeness of the sample. 
      • Unfortunately, we cannot easily do this because the underlying data are located behind a paywall. 
    • The government would be well-advised to bolster its information repositories that can help it address malnutrition effectively
    • We also need to continue our effort to reduce child mortality and find ways of reducing stunting and wasting. 

    Source:IE

    Mains Practice Question 

    [Q] What is the Global Hunger Index?Why did India reject the index and call it ‘an erroneous measure of hunger’?Discuss