India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its earlier position of 94th last year and is even behind neighbours including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
According the website of Global Hunger Index, which tracks hunger and malnutrition across the globe, 18 countries including China, Brazil and Kuwait came first with a GHI score of less than five.
However, the report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, termed the level of hunger in India “alarming”. In 2020, India was ranked 94th out of 107 countries. Now with 116 countries in the fray, it has dropped to 101st rank.
The country’s GHI score has also slumped from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.8 – 27.5 between 2012 and 2021. The GHI score is calculated on four indicators – undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who are wasted i.e who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute malnutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic malnutrition) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).
India’s share of wasting children has also risen from 17.1 per cent between 1998-2002 to 17.3 per cent between 2016 and 2020, the report said.
“People have been severely hit by COVID-19 and by pandemic-related restrictions in India, the country with highest child wasting rate worldwide,” the report said.
Neighbouring countries like Nepal (76), Bangladesh (76), Myanmar (71) and Pakistan (92) are also in the alarming hunger category, but have fared better at feeding their citizens than India.
India, however, showed improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food, the report said.
According to the report, the fight against hunger is dangerously off track. Based on the current GHI projections, the world as a whole — and 47 countries in particular — will fail to achieve a low level of hunger by 2030. Food security is under assault on multiple fronts, it said, adding that worsening conflict, weather extremes associated with global climate change, and the economic and health challenges associated with the COVID19 pandemic are all driving hunger.
“Inequality – between regions, countries, districts, and communities – is pervasive and, (if) left unchecked, will keep the world from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) mandate to leave no one behind,” the report said.
It said it would be difficult to be optimistic in 2021 because the forces now driving hunger are overpowering good intentions and lofty goals. Among the most powerful and toxic of these forces are conflict, climate change, and COVID-19, the three Cs that threaten to wipe out any progress that has been made against hunger in recent years, it added.
(With inputs from agencies)