The latest Global Hunger Index has several pointers for policymakers in India. To begin with, as Chart 1 shows, India is ranked 100 out of 119 developing countries. Even though India’s score — a higher score is worse — has improved since 1992, its score in 2017 is still far away from where China stood in 1992, as it was opening up its economy to the world. China’s lower score in 1992 shows how ill-prepared India is even in 2017. Moreover, even though countries such as China and Brazil started with smaller scores, over the same period, they registered a much higher reduction in terms of percentage. India’s success against malnutrition has been relatively modest. Bangladesh was much worse off in 1992, but overtook India by 2000.
As Chart 2 shows, since then, it has continued with a distinctly faster rate of improvement, even though it still falls within the “serious” category of the GHI.Chart 3 provides a worrying domestic context for India’s aggregates and the improvements in them. If one looks at the child stunting rates, for which comparable data is available, India’s best and worst regions have wide disparities. On the whole, however, India has improved over the years. Chart 4 shows how the proportion of undernourished population has gone down, while Chart 5 shows the improvements in the under-five mortality rates. However, Chart 6 shows that despite considerable improvements, child stunting, which shows chronic malnutrition, remains embarrassingly high. The worst news, however, as Chart 7 shows, is an unpardonable increase in child wasting, which indicates acute malnutrition.