‘Shocking’: India says Global Hunger Index 2021 methodology unscientific

In a statement, the ministry of women and child development claimed that the estimates by the FAO regarding the proportion of undernourished population was devoid of “ground reality and facts.”
In its rebuttal, the ministry provided the data on the food grains disbursed to beneficiaries under the government's various schemes.(HT Photo)
In its rebuttal, the ministry provided the data on the food grains disbursed to beneficiaries under the government's various schemes.(HT Photo)
Published on Oct 15, 2021 06:53 PM IST
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Written by Srivatsan K C | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Centre on Friday issued a rebuttal to the publishers of Global Hunger Index 2021 after the country slipped seven positions and was ranked at 101 out of 116 countries. The Union ministry of women and child development said that the publishing agencies have not done their “due diligence” before releasing the report.

In a statement, the ministry claimed that the estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) regarding the proportion of undernourished population was devoid of “ground reality and facts.”

“It is shocking to find that the Global Hunger Report 20201 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO estimate on proportion of undernourished population, which is found to be devoid of ground reality and facts and suffers from serious methodological issues. The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report,” the ministry said in the statement.

Further, it also called the methodology used by FAO as “unscientific” and claimed there was no methodology to measure undernourishment.

Also read | India slips to 101st rank in Global Hunger Index 2021; behind Pak, Bangladesh

“The methodology used by FAO is unscientific. They have based their assessment on the results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup. There is no scientific methodology to measure undernourishment like availability of food grains per capita during the period. The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and Height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population,” the ministry argued. Gallup is an American analytics and advisory company that conducts opinion polls globally.

Also, the ministry expressed doubts over the representativeness of the opinion poll, saying that the respondents were not asked anything about food support received from government or other sources. “The report completely disregards Government’s massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the covid period, verifiable data on which are available,” it added. However, HT has not seen or accessed the questions that were asked during the Gallup poll.

The ministry also said that it was surprised by the FAO’s ‘State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021’ report, which said that Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, have not been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and rather they have improved the proportion of undernourished population over the past year.

In addition, the ministry also issued a list of 13 facts, which it said that the above mentioned report has “completely ignored” and also noted the facts were available in the public domain. The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna (PMGKAY) and Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme (ANBS) were among some of the initiatives that found a mention in the ministry’s response. It also provided the data on the food grains disbursed to beneficiaries under the schemes. The ministry also listed the monetary assistance that was provided to farmers, farm workers and other low income workers.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2021