~ by Trinanjan Chakraborty
With a score of 27.3, India was ranked 94th out of 107 nations in the 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI). Only 3 Asian countries were ranked below India – these were Korea DPR (96), Afghanistan (99) and Timor-Leste (106). As per the segment definitions, India’s index score of 27.3 put it in the SERIOUS bracket. The GHI subdivides the countries into 6 brackets with index score of less than/equal to 9 being classified as “low” and score of greater than/equal to 50 classified as “extremely alarming.” This year, there were no countries in extremely alarming while 3 – Madagascar, Timor-Leste and Chad were classified as “alarming.”
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. The GHI is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a way to compare levels of hunger between countries and regions, and call attention to those areas of the world where hunger levels are highest and where the need for additional efforts to eliminate hunger is greatest. The GHI scores are calculated basis four dimensions:
- Undernourishment i.e. the share of the population that is undernourished (insufficient calorie intake)
- Child wasting i.e. the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight proportional to height)
- Child stunting i.e. the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height proportional to age)
- Child mortality i.e. the mortality rate of children under the age of five
India is ranked in the last spot (107) on the dimension of “child wasting” i.e. proportion of children with weights lower than expected w.r.t height. According to GHI 2020, 17.3% of Indian children under the age of 5 had weight lower as compared to their height. This value was 15.1% in 2012 and has gone up in recent years. India’s numbers on the other dimensions were:
- Undernourishment: 14.0%
- Child stunting: 34.7%
- Under-five mortality rate: 3.7%
On these 3 dimensions, the proportions have been declining steadily but the stunting rate is still alarmingly high. A comparison with Brazil, China and Russia also reveals the long way ahead for India in the battle on hunger.
|Child wasting (%)||1.8||2.0||3.5|
|Child stunting (%)||7.2||5.5||9.5|
|Child mortality (%)||1.4||0.9||0.7|
Many experts have feared that the Covid-19 pandemic could further worsen the hunger scenario in most developing countries. They have also warned that hunger and poverty resulting from covid-10 could lead to a higher death count than directly caused by the pandemic. A new analysis by researchers from King’s College London and Australian National University, under the aegis of the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research, for example, warns that the economic contraction caused by Covid-19 could push an additional 500 million people — roughly 8 percent of the Earth’s population — into poverty, reversing 30 years of economic improvement.
NB: The Global Hunger Index sources data from UNICEF and other UN agencies.