7 PM | Why India trails in Global Hunger Index | 18th October, 2019

Context: In Global Hunger Index report, India has the highest percentage of children who suffer from acute undernutrition. On other parameters, where India has improved, the pace has been relatively slow.

More in News:

  • The latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2019 has ranked India a lowly 102 among the 117 countries it has mapped.
  • On the whole, the 2019 GHI report has found that the number of hungry people has risen from 785 million in 2015 to 822 million. 

Global Hunger Index (GHI):

  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.
  • The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) calculates GHI scores each year to assess the progress or the lack of substantial achievements in combating hunger.
  • The GHI is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger.
  • The reason for mapping hunger is to ensure that the world achieves “Zero Hunger by 2030”, one of the Sustainable Development Goals laid out by the United Nations. It is for this reason that GHI scores are not calculated for certain high-income countries.

About IFPRI:

  • The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.
  • It was established in 1975.
  • IFPRI’s vision is a world free of hunger and malnutrition. Its mission is to provide research-based policy solutions that sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition.

GHI four indicators:

  • Undernourishment: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient);
  • Child Wasting: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);
  • Child Stunting: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and
  • Child Mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

Why does the GHI incorporate four different indicators?

  • Using this combination of indicators to measure hunger offers several advantages. The indicators included in the GHI formula reflect caloric deficiencies as well as poor nutrition.
  • The undernourishment indicator captures the nutrition situation of the population as a whole, while the indicators specific to children reflect the nutrition status within a particularly vulnerable subset of the population for whom a lack of dietary energy, protein, and/or micronutrients (essential vitamins and minerals) leads to a high risk of illness, poor physical and cognitive development, and death.
  • The inclusion of both child wasting and child stunting allows the GHI to document both acute and chronic undernutrition.
  • By combining multiple indicators, the index reduces the effects of random measurement errors.

Key findings with respect to India:

  • India’s rank has slipped from 95th position (in 2010) to 102nd (in 2019). Over a longer-term duration, the fall in India’s rank is sharper, i.e, from 83rd out of 113 countries in 2000 to 102nd out of 117 in 2019.
  • India ranked below Pakistan (94), Bangladesh (88), Nepal (73) and Sri Lanka (66) among other South Asian countries.
  • In India, only 9.6% of all children between 6 to 23 months of age are given a minimum acceptable diet.
  • As per the report, the child wasting rate is the highest (20.8%) in the world while the child stunting rate is 37.9% in India. Child wasting refers to the share of children under the age of five who are wasted, i.e, they have low weight with respect to their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
  • India scores 30.3 on the list and indicates that the level of hunger is serious in the country.
  • GHI highlights that the country has improved in some indicators such as under-5 mortality rates and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.

Zero Hunger Challenge:

  • First proposed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge aims for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition.
  • This requires comprehensive efforts to ensure that every man, women and child enjoy their Right to Adequate Food; women are empowered; priority is given to family farming; and food systems everywhere are sustainable and resilient.
  • The challenge of Zero Hunger means: While India produces enough food to feed its population; the country is home to 25 percent of the world’s hungry population. A holistic approach to food security requires ensuring available, accessible and nutritious food to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in India.
  • Zero stunted children less than 2 years
  • 100% access to adequate food all year round
  • All food systems are sustainable
  • 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
  • Zero loss or waste of food

Poshan Abhiyan/ National Nutrition Mission:

  • The Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition or POSHAN Abhiyaan or National Nutrition Mission, is Government of India’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan intends to significantly reduce malnutrition in the next three years.
  • For implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan the four point strategy/pillars of the mission are:
  • Inter-sectoral convergence for better service delivery
  • Use of technology (ICT) for real time growth monitoring and tracking of women and children
  • Intensified health and nutrition services for the first 1000 days
  • Jan Andolan


Eliminating hunger involves investments in agriculture, rural development, decent work, social protection and equality of opportunity. It will make a major contribution to peace and stability and to the reduction of poverty. It will contribute to better nutrition for all, especially women from the beginning of pregnancy and children under the age of two. The mission mode programme of POSHAN abhiyan started by government is a step in right direction.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/global-hunger-index-why-india-trails-6072465/

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