India 67th in hunger index

Failure of PDS in providing quality, nutritious food key factor

India 67th in hunger index

India is home to 42 per cent of the world’s underweight children — highest in Asia — and 31 per cent of stunted children worldwide.

These are again telltale signs of hunger impacting the natural growth and development of a child. Also the global food security is under stress.

According to the global hunger index, released on Monday ahead of the World Food Day on October 16, India has many miles to go before catching up with the UN Millennium Development Goal target of reducing poverty and hunger.

India’s neighbours like China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal and even Pakistan scored better on the index prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welt Hunger Life and Concern World Wide. The report, however, has some limitations on the quality and currency of data.

While the data coming out from Islamabad and Beijing may be of questionable nature, there is no denying of the successes in Sri Lanka and Vietnam which had been able to give access to food and nutrition to a larger percentage of their population.

Failure of the public distribution system in providing access to quality and nutritious food was a key factor. The current high inflation has only compounded the matter.

Inflation factor
“Food inflation of 15-16 percent is unthinkable. It can cause social unrest, more of which could be visible in the informal sector. When food prices go up, it hurts the poor most because they have to spent 60 per cent on food,” said Ashok Gulati, IFPRI director in Asia.

The index was developed using three parameters — calorie cut-off (1,800 calorie per day per adult), number of under-nourished children and child mortality.

“Children need nutrition in the first 1,000 days of their lives — up to two years of their lives starting from the mother’s womb. Else their physical growth can be stunted and mental development does not take place properly. India lags behind in this area,” said Purnima Menon, a fellow at the IFPRI.

Malnutrition in children below two years is one of the challenges in reducing global hunger and can cause lifelong harm to health, productivity and earning potential.
Although the world’s leaders, through the first Millennium Development Goal, adopted a goal of halving the proportion of hungry people between 1990 and 2015, the report said the world was nowhere near meeting that target.

*China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal and even Pakistan scored better on the index

*Index was developed by using three parameters — calorie cut-off (1,800 calorie per day per adult), number of under-nourished children and child mortality

*India is home to 42 per cent of the world’s underweight children and 31 per cent of stunted children worldwide

*Malnutrition in children below two years is one of the challenges in reducing global hunger

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