'Consistent effort to taint India's image': Govt slams latest Global Hunger Index – The Indian Express

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Slamming the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report for 2022, the Centre Saturday said India’s ranking at 107 in the index is part of a consistent effort to taint the country’s image as “a nation that does not fulfil the food security and nutritional requirements of its population”.
The government said the index “suffers from serious methodological issues”.
The GHI, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, non-government organisations from Ireland and Germany respectively, measures and tracks hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.
Of the 121 countries on the GHI, India is ranked behind its neighbours Nepal (81), Pakistan (99), Sri Lanka (64), and Bangladesh (84). At 19.3 per cent, India’s child wasting rate is the highest in the world, the latest GHI report suggests.
The Women and Child Development Ministry, in a statement, said, “A consistent effort is yet again visible to taint India’s image as a nation that does not fulfil the food security and nutritional requirements of its population. Misinformation seems to be the hallmark of the annually released Global Hunger Index.”
Explaining its stance, the ministry said three out of the four indicators used for calculation of the index are related to health of children and cannot be representative of the entire population.
“The fourth and most important indicator estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3000,” it said.
The report is not only disconnected from ground reality but also chooses to deliberately ignore efforts made by the government to ensure food security for the population, especially during the Covid pandemic, the government said.
On Saturday, senior Congress leader and Member of Parliament P Chidambaram Saturday took a swipe at the Narendra Modi-led Central government over India slipping to the 107th position in GHI 2022.
When will the Hon’ble PM address real issues like malnutrition, hunger, and stunting and wasting among children?
22.4 crore people in India are considered undernourished
India’s rank in the Global Hunger Index is near the bottom — 107 out of 121 countries
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) October 15, 2022
Matter taken up with FAO
The Centre said the report lowers India’s rank based on the estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population for India at 16.3 per cent.
According to the statement, the matter was taken up with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), asking it to avoid using estimates based on FIES (Food Insecurity Experience Scale) survey module data in July 2022 as the “statistical output of the same will not be based on merit”.
“Though an assurance was forthcoming that there will be further engagement on this issue, the publication of the Global Hunger Index report irrespective of such factual considerations is regrettable,” the ministry added.
The per capita dietary energy supply in India, as estimated by FAO from the Food Balance Sheets, has been increasing year-on-year owing to enhanced production of major agricultural commodities in the country over the years and there is absolutely no reason why the country’s undernourishment levels should increase, the Centre said.
The ministry said the three other indicators apart from PoU, included in Global Hunger Index relate primarily to children viz. stunting, wasting and under 5 mortality.
“These indicators are outcomes of complex interactions of various other factors like drinking water, 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. Calculating hunger based on mainly indicators relating to health indicators of children is neither scientific nor rational,” it said.
The government pointed out that it had taken a series of measures to ensure food security. “In the wake of economic disruptions caused by the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, the Government in March 2020 had announced the distribution of additional free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat) to about 80 Crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries at the scale of 5 Kg per person per month under the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY), over and above the regular monthly NFSA foodgrains i.e., regular entitlements of their ration cards. Thereby, effectively doubling the quantity of monthly foodgrains being normally delivered to the NFSA households, so that the poor, needy and the vulnerable households/beneficiaries do not suffer on account of non-availability of adequate foodgrains during the times of economic crisis,” it said.
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