With around 46% of Indian children malnourished and around one-third Indians having body mass index of less than 18.5, the government's top research body says that just one percent of people in the country sleep without two square meals a day.
The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in its latest survey on adequacy of food consumption in Indian households says that about 99% in rural India and 99.6% in urban India got adequate food in 2009-10. That year food prices soared because of the preceding drought year.
Contrary to popular perception, the survey says that the percentage of homes getting sufficient meals every day has increased from 94.5% in 1993-94 to 99 % in rural India and from 98% to 99% in urban India.
"The finding is most absurd," said senior faculty at Delhi based Jawaharlal Nehru University Himanshu, who uses only his first name. The reason, according to him, is the way question is framed in the NSSO survey. The question is not about hunger but whether the person feels hungry or not and that is the problem.
As a result, the NSSO has come up with an equally bizarre finding that just 0.2% in rural India and 0% in urban areas don't get two square meals every day.
The survey reports also reports that only West Bengal and Orissa more than four percent of people in rural parts don't get two meals every day in some months of a year. In rural areas of the remaining states, the average percentage is 2.1%.
The 2008 Global Hunger Index (GHI), in which India ranked 66 most food deprived country among 88, had presented a different picture of Indian states.
India ranks 66 out of 88 countries on the 2008 Global Hunger Index (GHI), far behind comparable developing countries as well as smaller, less diverse and resource deprived nations. It said 12 of the 18 states measured, including, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, have been marked as facing an "alarming" situation on hunger.
The index has said that despite being a much ahead of sub-Saharan African countries in economic prowess, India stands lower than many of them when it comes to fighting hunger. The NSSO survey, however, tries to present a rosy picture.