India’s ranking in Global Hunger Index

As compared to last year’s ranking , India’s position in terms of hunger index has improved by 8 points but there was nothing great to feel satisfied on the front of hunger in case the rankings have been arrived at honestly and without mixing considerations extraneous to the issue. In other words, India’s ranking this year has been placed at 94th position which needs to be improved upon by not only making the distribution channels of food grains more effective but to tailor such policies of food distribution which reach the remotest and far flung areas where survey samples are reported to have been taken for analysis. The focus shall have to be on larger states like Uttar Pradesh , Bihar, Madhya Pradesh , Rajasthan and West Bengal.
The notable points about the ranking over the last few years are that while in the year 2013-14, samples were collected just out of 76 countries, last year it was 117 countries and this year the number of countries surveyed were 107. Inconsistencies , therefore, in sampling and comparative ratings can be found in the Global Hunger Index which is just a tool for measuring and tracking hunger at global, national and regional levels. The indicators or the variables for such measurement are undernourishment, under nutrition in children which it classifies as “child wasting”, child stunting which relates to height and weight and can again be classified as under-nutrition and child mortality. Under nourishment and under nutrition in children, in short , especially are broad indicators of measuring hunger which if not contested on strict technical grounds cannot be treated as total hunger. It is a fact that the war against mal -nutrition and under nourishment in children and in expected and lactating mothers in India is yet to be won though through mid-day meals and Anganwadi centres to some extent, these two issues related to children are dealt with but more needs to be done.
It is a fact that marginalised sections of our society which even comprise petty , marginal and small farmers need a focussed attention from the government in terms of the intake of the minimum required levels of nutrition and protein rich diet especially in pregnant women , children and lactating mothers . At least, up to the age of five , the healthcare of children needs to be made mandatory in case a fast developing country dreaming to be one of the top five in the world in running a robust and productive economy wants to be at par with countries like Japan and China. The problem of the absence of reasonably adequate purchasing power of buying food rich in nutrition, needs to be looked into especially in our rural sector. The cash benefit of Rs.6000 to most of the farming families in three instalments needs to be supplemented directly and indirectly so that enough liquidity remained in the hands of the farming community even between the intervening periods of harvesting to ensure intake of a balanced diet. Milk , green vegetables , fruits , fish , eggs etc continue to be eluding our rural population in larger numbers and even in urban areas too to some extent.
The poor performance on hunger front when small countries in our neighbourhood like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have some slight edge over us, must rattle our policy planners that even when the government was spending whooping amount on food subsidy wherein rice, atta and pulses were sold through PDS at throwaway prices , why the hunger index is not improving. The subsidy given to FCI and states for procuring food grains from farmers at government notified prices and selling them at lowest subsidised prices under the National Food Security Act 2013 covering 75% of the population in rural areas and 50% in urban areas benefitting more than 85 crore people in India should all prove the hunger rankings doubtful . The estimates of food subsidies for 2020-21 are to the tune of Rs.115570 crore and more than 6% as compared to the corresponding period should bring about spectacular changes for bettering the hunger index provided distribution system was toned up and monitored properly.