2. Despite having huge reserves of food grains, India fares poorly on the global hunger index. Why? What measures can be taken to address this dichotomy? Discuss. (10 Marks)
खाद्यान्न का विशाल भंडार होने के बावजूद, भारत वैश्विक भूख सूचकांक पर खराब प्रदर्शन करता है। क्यों? इस द्विभाजन को दूर करने के लिए क्या उपाय किए जा सकते हैं? चर्चा कीजिए।
Students are expected to write about the hunger crisis India. Highlight the causes and multiple dimension to it. Also suggest some measure approach to solve the problem.
Global Hunger Index tracks hunger at global, regional and national levels. It uses four parameters to calculate its scores like Undernourishment, Child wasting, Child stunting, and Child mortality. The GHI 2021 report has placed India 101 position much behind Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. The situation is grim and the country is battling widespread hunger.
India fare poorly on the Global Hunger Index despite having surplus food because:
- Though we have surplus food, most small and marginal farming households do not produce enough food grains for their year-round consumption.
- Relative income of one section of people has been on the decline. This has adverse effects on their capacity to buy adequate food, especially when food prices have been on the rise.
- The agriculture output from small and marginal holdings are either stagnant or declining due to reasons such as reduced soil fertility, fragmented lands or fluctuating market price of farm produce.
- India’s child stunting has decreased from 54.2% (1998-99) to 34.7% (2016-18), though still considered high compared to global levels.
- India has the highest child wasting rate of all countries covered in the GHI, which is 17.3% (it was 17.1% in 1998-99).
There are multiple dimensions of malnutrition in India that include:
- Calorific deficiency.
- Protein hunger.
- Micronutrient deficiency (also known as hidden hunger).
- Poor access to safe drinking water and
- Poor access to Sanitation (especially toilets),
- Low levels of immunisation and
- Education, especially of women.
- First, more crops have to be grown, especially by small and marginal farmers with support from the Union government. A renewed focus on small and marginal holdings is imperative.
- Second, the government may create provisions to supply cooked nutritious food to the vulnerable section of the society.
- Food Fortification or Food Enrichment is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
- Agriculture-Nutrition linkage schemes have the potential for greater impact in dealing with malnutrition and thus, needs greater emphasis.
- By including milk and eggs in each states’ menu of Poshan abhiyaan preparing a menu based on climatic conditions, local foods etc. can help in providing the right nutrition to children in different States.
This ranking should prompt us to look at our policy focus and interventions and ensure that they can effectively address the concerns raised by the GHI, especially against pandemic-induced nutrition insecurity.