NEW DELHI: The low ranking assigned to India in the Global Hunger Index seeks to reflect the “multi-dimensional nature” of hunger after taking into account factors like undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality, said Concern World Wide and Welthungerlife, the two NGOs associated with the study. They also said that while India’s latest score marked an improvement since last year and it had moved out of the “alarming category” it was in until 2008, it continued to be a “serious” case.

Those behind GHI, who had come under attack from the government as well as experts for the ranking assigned to India in the previous round, also said the fact that India had not held a consumption survey after 2011 forced them to depend on a Gallup poll with a base of 3,000 people.

According to the GHI report, India’s child wasting rate, at 18.7%, was the highest among countries on the index; its child stunting rate at 35.5% was the 15th highest; the prevalence of undernourishment was 16.6%; and the under-five mortality rate was 3.1%. The report drew its data on child stunting and wasting from the National Family Health Survey (2019-2021). The WCD ministry attacked the estimate and said the problems of stunting and wasting owed to multiple factors – sanitation, genetics, environment, utilisation of food intake, and could not be attributed to lack of food. “Also, there is hardly any evidence that the fourth indicator, child mortality, is an outcome of hunger,” it said.

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“Three out of the four indicators used for calculation of the index are related to the health of children and cannot be representative of the entire population. The fourth and most important indicator ‘Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population’ is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3,000,” the ministry said.
It also expressed surprise that the individuals behind the index chose to ignore interventions like supply of free foodgrain, mid-day meal schemes as well as Mission Poshan, geared specifically to tackle the problem of malnutrition, the effectiveness of which is monitored by the ‘Poshan Tracker’ app whose authenticity has been attested to by international bodies.
Citing Mission Poshan and the ‘Poshan Tracker’, the government said close to 14 lakh Anganwadi centres were registered on the app, benefiting over 10 crore beneficiaries, including pregnant women, lactating mothers, children under 6 years and adolescent girls.
Highlighting that global bodies like Unicef, WHO,and World Bank had acknowledged Poshan Tracker as a game-changer in the area of nutrition the WCD ministry said, “The percentage of child wasting, as seen on the Poshan Tracker, has been below 7.2%, month-on-month, as compared to the value of 18.7% used for child wasting in the GHI 2023.”

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