Global Hunger Index rank does not reflect India’s true picture: Smriti Irani

Published on Dec 09, 2022 04:03 PM IST

The GHI has assigned India a score of 29.1 and considers the level of hunger in India “serious” on a scale where a score of 50 is considered “extremely serious” hunger

Global Hunger Index is a peer-reviewed annual report jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. (File image)
Global Hunger Index is a peer-reviewed annual report jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. (File image)
ByAnish Yande

Minister of women and child development Smriti Irani dismissed India’s ranking in the Global Hunger Index (GHI), terming it as a “flawed measure of hunger,” in a reply to Lok Sabha on Friday.

“Global Hunger Index (GHI) does not reflect India’s true picture as it is a flawed measure of ‘Hunger’. It should not be taken at face value as it is neither appropriate nor representative of hunger prevalent in a country,” Irani said in reply to Congress MP Karti Chidambaram.

Dismissing the four indicators of GHI, Irani said, “Out of its four indicators, only one indicator, i.e., undernourishment, is directly related to hunger. The two indicators, namely, Stunting and Wasting, are outcomes of complex interactions of various other factors like sanitation, genetics, environment, and utilisation of food intake apart from hunger which is taken as the causative/outcome factor for stunting and wasting in the GHI.”

Also Read: Global Hunger Index 2022: India slips six places, ranked 107 of 121 countries

According to the 2022 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 107th out of 121 countries.

The GHI has assigned India a score of 29.1 and considers the level of hunger in India “serious” on a scale where a score of 50 is considered “extremely serious” hunger.

Replying to Congress MP Chidambaram’s inquiry on whether India’s increasing GHI score from 28.2 in 2014 to 29.1 in 2022 shows a worsening of the hunger crisis, Irani said, “India stood at rank 55 out of 76 countries, with a score of 28.2 in 2014. Indian rank was 80 out of 104 countries in 2015, 97 out of 118 countries in 2016, 100 out of 119 countries in 2017, 103 out of 119 countries in 2018, 102 out of 117 countries in 2019, 94 out of 107 countries in 2020 and 101 out of 116 countries in 2021.”

Notably, the GHI clarified that the higher 2022 GHI score for India as compared to the 2014 GHI score means that the GHI score for India has shown a “slight worsening”.

However, the GHI has also advised against comparing the scores of subsequent years by noting, “The current and historical data on which the GHI scores are based, is continually being revised and improved by the United Nations agencies that compile them, and each year’s GHI report reflects these changes.

Comparing scores between reports may create the impression that hunger has changed positively or negatively from year to year, whereas in some cases, the change may partly or fully reflect a data revision.

Replying to another question regarding the starvation-related deaths among children and adults in India since 2014, Irani denied that there were any incidents of starvation deaths from states or union territories.

In January this year, the Supreme Court pulled up the government while demanding the latest information on starvation deaths even as the Centre couldn’t provide an answer citing that there were no starvation-related deaths.

Irani, however, did highlight the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) implemented in all the states and union territories on an all-India basis with maximum coverage of 81.35 crore people, which is meant to address the hunger alleviation of the bottom 67% of the population at 2011 census.

She noted that the coverage under the Act is “substantially high” for ensuring vulnerable and needy sections can benefit from it.

“At present, against the intended coverage of 81.35 crore persons, the states/UTs have already identified 80.03 crore persons,” Irani’s reply read.

According to GHI’s website, the Global Hunger Index is a peer-reviewed annual report jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

It aims to comprehensively track and measure hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.

The GHI measures countries’ performance on four component indicators: undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality.

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