‘Erroneous’: Centre slams Global Hunger Index ranking India behind Pakistan

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The Centre on Saturday dismissed the Global Hunger Index 2022 report which ranked India 107 out of 121 countries with its child-wasting rate at 19.3 per cent, being the highest in the world. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels.

The ministry of women and child development, in a statement, said the index is an “erroneous measure of hunger” and suffers from “serious methodological issues”. “Three out of the four indicators used for calculation of the index are related to health of Children and cannot be representative of the entire population. The fourth and most important indicator estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3000,” the ministery said in the statement.

“A consistent effort is yet again visible to taint India’s image as a Nation that does not fulfill the food security and nutritional requirements of its population. Misinformation seems to be the hallmark of the annually released Global Hunger Index,” it added.

The Centre claimed the report is not only disconnected from ground reality but also chooses to deliberately ignore efforts made by the Narendra Modi government to ensure food security for the population, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Taking a one-dimensional view, the report lowers India’s rank based on the estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population for India at 16.3%. The FAO estimate is based on ‘Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)’ Survey Module conducted through Gallop World Poll, which is an ‘opinion poll’ based on ‘8 questions’ with a sample size of ‘3000 respondents’. The data collected from a miniscule sample for a country of India’s size through FIES has been used to compute PoU value for India which is not only wrong & unethical, it also reeks of obvious bias. The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, have evidently not done their due diligence before releasing the report,” it said.

With a score of 29.1, the level of hunger in India has been labelled “serious”.

In Asia, Afghanistan with a rank of 109 is the only country behind India. Neighbouring countries – Pakistan (99), Bangladesh (84), Nepal (81) and Sri Lanka (64) have all fared better than India.

In 2021, India ranked 101 out of 116 countries while in 2020 the country was placed in 94th position.

South Asia, the region with the world’s highest hunger level, has the highest child stunting rate and by far the highest child wasting rate in the world, the report said.

“India’s child wasting rate, at 19.3 per cent, is the highest of any country in the world and drives up the region’s average owing to India’s large population,” it said.

India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan each have child stunting rates between 35 and 38 per cent, with Afghanistan’s rate being the highest in the region.

Activists and politicians have hit out the government for India’s ranking. Sitaram Yechury, secretary-general of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the government must take responsibility for this era of darkness India has been brought to in 8.5 years.