Unless social infrastructure improves, India will not get out of the hunger trap
Recent data show that almost 40% of Indian children under five years of age are stunted compared to over 60% in the early 1990s. The GHI rankseditorials Updated: Oct 12, 2016 18:46 IST
Hunger levels in developing countries may have fallen 29% since 2000, but unfortunately, India is still rated as a country with ‘serious’ hunger levels in 2016, says the Global Hunger Index (GHI), which was released on Tuesday. It also said that the country is slated to become the world’s most populous nation in six years, and it’s crucial that it meets this milestone with a record of ensuring that the expected 1.4 billion Indians have enough nutritious food to lead healthy and successful lives. Since 2000, the country has reduced its GHI score by a quarter and has a score in 2016 of 28.5 (rank 97 of 118 countries). Recent data show that almost 40% of Indian children under five years of age are stunted compared to over 60% in the early 1990s. The GHI ranks countries based on four key indicators: Undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.
The report brings back the focus on the implementation of the National Food Security Act. To date, several states and Union Territories have implemented the food security law and the basic entitlement s are being delivered. However, it will not be entirely correct to say that only implementation of the Act will solve the India’s problem. This is because hunger and malnourishment are closely linked to sanitation issues. According to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health professor Jean Humphrey, the stunting in children is not simply due to a lack of food. The constant ambush of germs and bacteria from their environment forces “these children’s bodies [to] divert energy and nutrients away from growth and brain development to prioritise infection-fighting survival,” Dr Humphrey told The New York Times.
Then there are other issues such as health, the anganwadi infrastructure and incomes of people. India’s health infrastructure is in a pitiable state and that has a direct impact on maternal health, which in turn impacts the health of children. As far as incomes are concerned, rural distress has been quite widespread in India for the last couple of years. In other words, unless and until the full social infrastructure improves, India will not be able to get out of the hunger trap.