New Delhi: India has been classified as a country with ‘serious’ levels of hunger according to this year’s Global Hunger Index (GHI), slipping from 95th rank in 2010 to 102nd in 2019. The country with the severest problem of hunger at rank 117 is the Central African Republic.
The GHI calculates the levels of hunger and undernutrition worldwide. The four indicators for the index are undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting (weight for age) and child mortality.
The annual report says among the 117 countries ranked, 47 countries are in ‘serious’ and ‘alarming’ hunger levels and one in ‘critically alarming’. India’s dismal performance on hunger is directly linked to the high levels of child undernourishment.
Neighbouring countries like Nepal (73rd), Sri Lanka (66th), Bangladesh (88th), Myanmar (69th) and Pakistan (94th), although all in the ‘serious’ hunger category are better at feeding its citizens than India, according to this index. China (25th) has moved to a ‘low’ severity category and Sri Lanka is in the ‘moderate’ severity.
Another shocking statistic is, when it comes to infants aged six months to 23 months, only 9.6 percent of them in India are fed a "minimum acceptable diet". This means that less than 10 percent of the infants in India are properly fed.
The child wasting rate in India stands at 20.8 percent which, according to the index, is the highest wasting rate of any country studied for the GHI report. The child stunting rate, at 37.9 percent, has also been termed as very high.
The report also mentions the central government’s Swachh Bharat program, saying open defecation is being practiced despite the construction of new toilets and it highly jeopardises the population’s and children’s health. “Even with new latrine construction, however, open defecation is still practiced. This situation jeopardises the population’s health and consequently, children’s growth and development as their ability to absorb nutrients is compromised,” the report reads.
However, the country has demonstrated an improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.