In the latest release of the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2023, India has been positioned at 111th out of 125 countries, indicating a notable drop from its 107th ranking in the preceding year. The GHI, an annual gauge of worldwide hunger levels, is jointly published by Irish NGO Concern Worldwide and German NGO Welt Hunger Hilfe.
The GHI 2023 report spotlights India’s alarming child wasting rate, which stands at 18.7 percent during 2018–22, underscoring a severe issue of undernutrition. The report also notes that India’s undernourishment rate is at 16.6 percent, with an under-five mortality rate of 3.1 percent. A particularly concerning statistic reveals that 58.1 percent of women aged 15 to 24 in India suffer from anemia. The overall GHI score for India is 28.7, categorizing the nation’s hunger situation as “serious.”
The Women and Child Development Ministry, a significant governmental body, has voiced substantial apprehensions about the GHI 2023 report. According to the ministry, the index is marred by “serious methodological issues and demonstrates a malicious intent.” Their primary objections include:
- The government contends that three of the four indicators employed in calculating the GHI exclusively pertain to child health, arguing that these indicators fail to accurately represent the hunger status of the entire population.
- The ministry maintains that the report’s emphasis on child wasting and child mortality fails to capture the broader complexities of hunger in India.
- The most crucial indicator, the “Proportion of Undernourished Population,” relies on a limited-scale opinion poll of just 3,000 individuals. The government questions the legitimacy of deriving nationwide conclusions from such a modest sample size.
- The government highlights a significant divergence between the GHI 2023’s claim of an 18.7% child wasting rate and consistent data from the Poshan Tracker, indicating a considerably lower rate, below 7.2%. They raise questions about the precision of the GHI figures and their alignment with real-time data collected through national tracking mechanisms.
- The government disputes the assumption that child mortality, one of the GHI indicators, is directly correlated to hunger. They contend that child mortality is influenced by multifaceted factors, rendering it an insufficient metric for assessing hunger levels.
India’s GHI ranking appears stark when compared to neighboring countries:
- India: 111th
- Pakistan: 102nd
- Bangladesh: 81st
- Nepal: 69th
- Sri Lanka: 60th
India’s ranking raises concerns about the nation’s capacity to effectively combat hunger. The top five countries in GHI 2023 are Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Chile, China, and Croatia, while the countries at the bottom of the index include Chad, Niger, Lesotho, Congo, Yemen, Madagascar, and the Central African Republic.