|Demand of the question Introduction. Contextual introduction. Body. Discuss how far Indian governments have progressed in dealing with Hunger and Poverty in India. Conclusion. Way forward.|
India is one of the fastest growing economies. Despite this, poverty and hunger in India are very high. About 20-35% of children suffer from severe undernutrition in the majority of Indian states. According to India’s 2011 government data, 65 million people live in areas that lack basic facilities, which puts them under the risk of various diseases alongside hunger, which is often life-threatening.
- Reduction in absolute poverty: According to a UNDP report, India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, recording the fastest reductions in the multidimensional poverty index values.
- Reduced poverty rate: According to the world bank, India has achieved annual growth exceeding 7% over the last 15 years that halved its poverty rate since the 1990s. The World Bank’s estimate of the number of people living on less than $1.90 per day on a purchasing power parity basis, found that poverty declined from 21.6% to an estimated 13.4% between 2011 and 2015.
- Removed extreme poverty: As of 2018, India is no longer home to the highest number of extremely poor people in the world. According to the Brookings Institution, extreme poverty continues to fall in India.
- Reduced IMR: According to India Spend, India has reduced its infant mortality rate (IMR) by 42% over 11 years, from 57 in 2006 to 33 per 1,000 live births in 2017. In 2017, India’s rural areas had an IMR of 37 and urban areas 23.
- Reduced MMR: Further, India has registered a 26.9% reduction in Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) since 2013, according to the Sample Registration System Bulletin-2016.
- Increased food security: Government has launched various efforts like the National food security act, that has led to increased food security.According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report (GNR 2018), there is increased food security and access has led to fewer malnourished and anaemic Indians in 2017 than in the preceding decade.
- Reduced stunting: India has shown improvement in reducing child stunting but with 46.6 million stunted children, according to the GNR 2018 report, the country is home to over 30.9% of all stunted children under five–the highest in the world.
Challenge of hunger and poverty in India still remains:
- The latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2019 has ranked India a lowly 102 among the 117 countries slipped from 95th position in 2010. 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.
- Malnutrition amongst children in India is projected to remain high, despite all the progress made in food security. Almost one in three Indian children under five years will still be malnourished by 2022 going by current trends.
- Access to food has not increased. Food-grain yields have risen 33% over the last two decades, but are still only half of 2030 target yields. The consumer’s access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, due to population growth, inequality, food wastage and losses, and exports.
- Despite positive trends and patterns in improving food security, the prevalence of hunger in India remains high, with many people, especially women and children, suffering from micronutrient deficiency.
- It is estimated 23.6% of Indian population, or about 276 million people, is living below $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity.
- An analysis of the consumption expenditure numbers reported by the National Statistical Office (NSO) suggests that rural poverty rose nearly 4% between 2011-12 and 2017-18 to 30%.
- According to Oxfam, India’s top 1% of the population now holds 73% of the wealth while 670 million citizens, comprising the country’s poorest half, saw their wealth rise by just 1%.
- Given the higher weight of the rural population, the estimated overall poverty rate went up nearly a percentage point to 23 percent in 2017-18. The rise implies that 30 million people fell below India’s official poverty line and joined the ranks of the poor over the past six years.
- Zero hunger: Achieving zero hunger requires agriculture and food systems to become more efficient, sustainable, climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive. It is important to look at the future of food production to achieve the zero hunger goal.
- Human capital: Human resource capacity building is the key as is access to education and health services and empowering the poor through partnerships.
- Women empowerment: In particular, programmes must focus on women and girls. Longstanding discrimination against women and girls, which affects their access to food, sanitation, care, and health services, is a key driver of poor nutrition outcomes in India.
- Local government involvement: Outcomes can be improved through capacity enhancement and transparency at the local government level, and by targeting MGNREGA works towards creating productivity and income-enhancing community assets or, in special cases, assets on participants’ lands.
- Focusing most vulnerable: Policies must pay special attention to groups who are the most vulnerable to the harmful consequences of poor food access: infants, children aged under five, school-aged children, adolescent girls, and women.
Government has made various efforts like the National Food Security Act, Mid-day meal scheme for tackling hunger and poverty alleviation programs like MGNREGA. Although significant improvements have been made, there is still much needed to be done in front of hunger and poverty. It is high time, the policy makers should consider providing for the right to be free from hunger as a fundamental right.