Global Hunger Index: India continues to struggle against starvation

Context

  • India’s consistently poor performance on Global Hunger Index should be a matter of grave concern as India has slipped three positions from last to 100th rank among 119 nations.

What is Global Hunger Index?

  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally and by country and region.
  • The Index was adopted and further developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • The Index ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst
  • Global Hunger Index highlights successes and failures in hunger reduction and provides insights into the drivers of hunger.

On what basis is GHI measured?

  • The GHI is calculated by taking into account four key parameters:
    • shares of undernourished population
    • wasted
    • stunted children aged under 5
    • infant mortality rate of the same age group

What is 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.
  • FPRI’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.

What are the major objectives of IFPRI?

  • Research at IFPRI focuses on six strategic areas:

Ensuring Sustainable Food Production

  • IFPRI’s research analyzes options for policies, institutions, innovations, and technologies that can advance sustainable food production in a context of resource scarcity, threats to biodiversity, and climate change.

Promoting Healthy Food Systems

  • IFPRI examines how to improve diet quality and nutrition for the poor, focusing particularly on women and children, and works to create synergies among the three vital components of the food system: agriculture, health, and nutrition.

Improving Markets and Trade

  • IFPRI’s research focuses on strengthening markets and correcting market failures to enhance the benefits from market participation for small-scale farmers.

Transforming Agriculture

  • The aim of IFPRI’s research in this area is to accelerate the transformation from low-income, rural, agriculture-based economies to high-income, more urbanized, and industrial service-based ones.

Building Resilience

  • IFPRI’s research explores the causes and impacts of environmental factors that can affect food security, nutrition, health, and well-being

Strengthening Institutions and Governance

  • IFPRI’s research on institutions centers on collective action in management of natural resources and farmer organizations.

What are the salient features of the National food security Mission in India?

  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM) is a Central Scheme of GOI launched in 2007
  • The aim is to bridge the yield gap in respect of these crops through dissemination of improved technologies and farm management practices.
  • The targets of 11th five year exceeded and it was extended to 12th five-year plan in 2012.
  • In the 12th Plan, NFSM aims at raising the food grain production by 25 million tones.

What are the primary objectives of the National food security Mission?

  • Restoring soil fertility and productivity at the individual farm level.
  • Promotion and extension of improved technologies
  • Productions of breeder seeds are done under ICAR while certified seeds and pulses are implemented by State and District agencies

Does the constitution of India pledge the right to food?

  • The right to food or in general the economic, social, and cultural rights are defined in Part IV of the Constitution as Directive Principles of State Policy
  • The Right to Food in Indian Constitution is not recognized as a “Fundamental Right”
  • Article 21 and 47 of the constitution obliges the Government of India to take appropriate measures to ensure a dignified life with adequate food for all citizens.

Article 47

  • Article 47 of the Indian Constitution provides that it is the “duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health”.

Article 21

  • Protection of life and personal liberty – No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty

What are the causes of India’s poor performance at GHI?

Improper implementation

  • A major hindrance in fighting starvation in India is the lack of proper implementation of government schemes which are directed towards providing food for one and all

Corruption is the root cause

  • corruption on the local levels or there is a disinterest among the government officials to ensure that the schemes are properly being carried out.

flawed food distribution system

  • Almost 51% of the food delivered is lost to leakages and is sold in the open market for a higher price.

What are the factors causing malnutrition in India?

Lack of awareness

  • Lack of awareness among people about sufficient health and nutrition is the primary reason (about wholesome, balanced and natural diets; healthy child-feeding and caring practices)

Access to nutritious food

  • People’s access to sufficient and nutritious food is equally important, which is still to be addressed
  • IFPRI’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) shows India ranked 97 among 118 countries on hunger in 2016.

Loopholes in the National Food Security Bill 

  • Clear mechanisms with respect to the identification of beneficiaries have not been defined.
  • The bill states that the states will provide the list of the poor but the states obviously do not possess such records.

What is the way ahead?

  • One effort to address the hunger (and nutrition) challenge is the enactment of the National Food Security Act
  • To improve nutritional content in food products, steps must be taken towards universal food fortification.
  • Adequate funding is required for the effective implementation of any nutrition scheme
  • Many of the causes for the occurrence of malnutrition is known, however attention needs to be paid to understanding what prevents the nation from achieving its goals related to nutrition.
  • Attention needs to be paid on building neighborhood health and nutrition profiles and carrying out interventions based on identified needs.
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