Hyderabad: India ranked 101 out of 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021-22, with a hunger score of 27.5 which is categorised as ‘serious’. However, the government of India stated that the index “should not be taken at face value.”
Union Minister of women and child development, Smriti Irani, replied to BJD MLA Mahesh Sahoo’s question in the Lok Sabha on Friday, saying that the Global Hunger Index (GHI) does not reflect India’s true picture as it is a flawed measure of ‘hunger’.
“It (GHI) should not be taken at face value as it is neither appropriate nor representative of hunger prevalent in a country. Out of its four indicators, only one indicator, i.e., undernourishment, is directly related to hunger,” stated Irani.
“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,” she added.
She said that there is hardly any evidence that child mortality is an outcome of hunger.
Irani further added that the data used in the GHI report are sourced from international agencies which are not updated as per the latest data available in the country.
“Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has completely disregarded Government’s economic response to Covid-19 of providing free foodgrains to 80 crore National Food Security Act beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana,” she said.
“The GHI has given India an unacceptable estimate for 2018-2020 and the four questions asked in the poll have no links to the availability of food or dietary energy,” she claimed.
As per National Family Health Survey, there has been a decline in child stunting, child wasting and underweight children.
How the Global Health Index works
The GHI index is based on four components- a) the proportion of undernourished as a percentage of the total population; b) the proportion of children under 5 years suffering from wasting i.e. low weight for height; c) the proportion of under 5 children suffering from stunted growth i.e. low height for age and d) child mortality under the age of 5 years (U5 MR).
Each of these components is attributed a score on a scale of 0-100 based slightly above a threshold of the worst score observed among all countries given a score of 100 and the scores go down as the figures improve. Finally, each of the four components is given a weightage in the overall tally being 33 per cent or one-third of the percentage of the undernourished population, one-third on U5MR, one-sixth on wasting and one-sixth on stunting.
The GHI trend for India shows that we had an overall score of 38.8 in 2000, 37.4 in 2006, 28.8 in 2012 and 27.5 in 2021.