ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Alarming Hunger in India

Real or Methodological Fallacy?

Does the Global Hunger Index convey the actual picture of hunger in India? While there are methodological issues in the measurement of calorific undernourishment, India’s performance remains poor in tackling child undernutrition, but not so in child mortality. The varying performance in the three domains calls for an objective assessment and targeted remedial measures in aspects where performance is poor.

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 has been greeted with highly contested claims. At the core of the contention is GHI’s ranking of India at the bottom: 101 out of 116 countries. What is more, not only does India fare poorer than most of its South Asian neighbours, there has been a slide in ­India’s rank from 2020. The government responded, in a knee-jerk fas­hion, in challenging the credibility of the methodology and claim­ed that the low ranking is a statistical artefact, devoid of reality. Conversely, many lamen­ted the bottom ranking, claiming that it captures the poignant state of hunger endemic in India. Does the GHI ranking convey the actual and alarming state of hunger in India, or, portray a faulty, falla­cious picture via its imperfect methodology? This article addresses this question.

To do so, it critically examines the methodology of the GHI and its components and, tries to see which of the conflicting claims holds water. The GHI (2021) consists of three components, including (i) und­ernourishment measured through adequacy of calorie intake in the population, (ii) child undernutrition measured through wasting (low weight for height) and stunting (low height for age) among children under five years, and (iii) morta­lity rate of children under five years. Each of these three dimensions are discussed in this article.

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Updated On : 12th Dec, 2021
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