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Day 18 – Q. 3 How would you define hunger? Do you think India’s performance on the Global Hunger Index is a true reflection of status of hunger in India? Critically comment.

  • IASbaba
  • December 15, 2022
  • 0
Agriculture, GS-3, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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How would you define hunger? Do you think India’s performance on the Global Hunger Index is a true reflection of status of hunger in India? Critically comment.

आप भूख को कैसे परिभाषित करेंगे? क्या आपको लगता है कि ग्लोबल हंगर इंडेक्स पर भारत का प्रदर्शन भारत में भूख की स्थिति का सही प्रतिबिंब है? समालोचनात्मक टिप्पणी करें।


Approach –

A simple straightforward question where candidates need to write about hunger and does global hunger index is a true reflexion of status of hunger in India.

Introduction —

India has ranked 107th out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022, report Jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerlife, it is down from the 101st position the previous year .

Body –

hunger is defined as a condition in which a person does not have the physical or financial capability to eat sufficient food to meet basic nutritional needs for a sustained period.In common parlance, hunger refers to discomfort due to a lack of food.

Factors Responsible for Hunger and Malnutrition in India-

  • Poverty Backing Hunger: Poor living conditions limit the availability of food for children, while overpopulation, coupled with limited food access, result in malnutrition in children, especially in rural India.
  • Faulty Public Distribution: There has been a wide variation in the distribution of food in urban and rural areas, with grains being diverted to the open market in order to make a higher profit, and poor quality grains being sold in ration shops, and the irregular opening of these shops contributing to hunger and malnutrition.
  • Unidentified Hunger: Due to the arbitrary nature of the criteria used to determine a household’s Below Poverty Line status and the fact that these criteria vary from state to state, food consumption has declined significantly due to the inaccurate classification of above poverty line (APL) and below poverty line (BPL).
  • Besides this, the poor quality of grains have further contributed to the problem.
  • Hidden Hunger: India is experiencing a severe micronutrient deficiency (also known as hidden hunger). There are several causes of this problem, including poor diet, disease, and a failure to meet micronutrient needs during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Lack of adequate knowledge amongst mothers regarding nutrition, breast-feeding and parenting is another area of concern.
  • Gender Inequality: Due to patriarchal mindset, gender inequality places the girl child at a disadvantage compared to boys and causes them to suffer more since they are last to eat and considered less important.
  • In contrast to boys, girls are deprived of mid-day meals due to a lack of access to school.
  • Lack of Immunisation: Children are neglected when it comes to preventive care (specifically immunizations) due to lack of awareness and not given access to health care for diseases due to affordability issues.
  • Lack of Audit for Nutritional Programmes: Although a number of programmes with improving nutrition as their main component are planned in the country, there is no specific nutritional audit mechanism at local governance level.

However, the GHI is not such a simplistic measure “it captures the multidimensional nature of hunger”.

There are 4 measures it used by GHI:

  • Undernourishment: The share of the population whose caloric intake is insufficient.This makes up 1/3 of the GHI score.
  • Child Stunting: The share of children under the age of 5 who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.This makes up 1/6 of the GHI score.
  • Child Wasting: The share of children under the age of 5 who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.This makes up 1/6 of the GHI score.
  • Child Mortality: The share of children who die before their 5th birthday, reflecting in part the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments.This makes up 1/3 of the GHI score.
  • The overall score is placed on a 100-point scale and a lower score is better.A score between 20 and 34.9 is pegged in the “serious” category and this is where India finds itself with a total score of 29.1. (GHI 22).

Indian government criticism of GHI 2022

  • The Indian government has questioned the methodology of GHI. There are two major sub-parts to the government’s contention:
  • First, that the GHI uses “an erroneous measure of hunger”, that 3 out of the 4 variables used are related to children and cannot be representative of the entire population.
  • Second, that the 4th indicator of GHI, the proportion of undernourished population is “based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3000”, which is not justified with a country like India representing one-fifth of the world’s population.

Way Forward-

  • Viewing Nutrition Through Different Lenses: Better nutrition involves more than just food, it includes health, water, sanitation, gender perspectives, and social norms. Therefore, there is a need to look forward to comprehensive policy to fill the nutritional gap.
  • If Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and nutrition policies like Poshan Abhiyan are interlinked, India’s nutritional situation will undergo holistic changes.
  • Bringing Social Audit Mechanism: States and Union Territories should compulsorily carry out the social audit of the mid-day meal scheme in every district, with the help of local authorities and simultaneously work on nutritional awareness.
  • Use of information technology to improve program monitoring can be thought of too.
  • Re-orienting PDS: There is a need to be re-orient and an up-scale Public Distribution System to make it more transparent and reliable and ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious food, also making a positive impact on the purchasing power of the lower socio-economic segment of the population
  • Agriculture-Nutrition Corridor: Currently, India’s nutritional hubs (villages) are the most deprived of adequate nutrition, there is a need to devise mechanisms to check “Nutritional security of villages” in line with agricultural-commerce.
  • Recognising the importance of this link, the Ministry for Women and Child Development launched the Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh in 2019

Conclusion-

World is facing a serious setback in efforts to end hunger with conflict, the climate crisis , COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by the war in Ukraine are major drivers of hunger.The situation is expected to deteriorate further as global crises overlap.Possible solutions and the scale of investment required  along with policy implementation .

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