India slides down in GHI, ranking 107; basic stock of wheat and rice also depletes

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Najib Anwar

The latest Global Hunger Index released on Friday ranked India 107 out of 121 countries. The Global Hunger Index is a peer-reviewed annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels. The aim of the GHI is to trigger action to reduce hunger around the world.

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators – undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality. The GHI score is calculated on a 100-point scale reflecting the severity of hunger, where zero is the best score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst.

GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators – undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality. While undernourishment represents the share of the population with insufficient caloric intake, child stunting indicates the share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic under nutrition. Child wasting reflects acute under nutrition in children under age five with low weight for their height.

The report said, ‘(p)rogress in tackling hunger is stagnating in South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara, the world regions with the highest hunger levels as measured by GHI, at 27.4 and 27.0 respectively’. It also said, ‘India’s child wasting rate, at 19.3 percent, is the highest of any country in the world and drives up the region’s average owing to India’s large population’.

Since 2014, India has been steadily sliding down the GHI under the current BJP regime. In 2014, India ranked 55. In 2020, the year of global pandemic, India was 94 among 107 countries; last year it further went down to 101 among 116 countries. Now among 121 countries it ranks 107. All of India’s neighbouring countries fared better. Pakistan ranked 99, while Bangladesh was ranked 84, Nepal 81 and Sri Lanka 64.

Although the government alleged that the report ‘erroneously’ measured hunger in India and had ‘methodical’ shortcomings, the sliding down in the GHI clearly hints at the skewed policies adopted by the current regime. It is busy serving the corporate honchos like Gautam Adani, who is now one of the richest persons on earth. The economic decline and direct hit on lives and livelihoods of vast sections of people has brought the country to such a level. As if that was not enough, it is further compounded by the religious hate and divisions constantly sown by the BJP leaders throughout the country.

Living a decent life, having the right for food are the constitutional rights of all the people of the country. But does the country has enough food stocks? Consider the recent data provided by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) – Wheat and rice stocks in public godowns totalled 511.4 lakh tonnes as on October 1. This was as against 816 lakh tonnes a year ago and the lowest for the same date since 2017. Depleting stocks of wheat and rice are a concern even as consumer price index (CPI) for “cereals and products” rose 11.53 per cent year-on-year in September. A basic survival diet for a common people is becoming elusive. But the party in power is hell bent in taking the country into the era of darkness. A haranguing Prime Minister, a revengeful Home Minister and a Finance Minister who is skillful in spin doctoring facts; the bandobust is complete.

The Global Hunger Index is a pointer to such a bandobust.

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