India has slipped from 95th rank in 2010 to 102nd in 2019 on the Global Hunger Index (GHI), with the increase in prevalence of wasting (low weight for height) among children under five contributing the most to the country’s poor performance.
Over a longer-term horizon, the fall in India’s rank is sharper: From 83rd out of 113 countries in 2000 to 102nd out of 117 now. The improvement in India’s GHI score, too, has decelerated. The improvement from 38.9 in 2005 to 32 in 2010 was followed by a change from 32 to 30.3 between 2010 and 2019.
Seventeen countries, including Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI scores less than five. Countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda have shown notable progress, the GHI report said.
The share of wasting among children in India rose from 16.5 per cent in the 2008-2012 period to 20.8 per cent in 2014-2018, according to the report.
It was prepared jointly by Concern Worldwide, an Irish aid agency, and Welt Hunger Hilfe, a German organisation.
In India, just 9.6 per cent of all children between 6 and 23 months of age are fed a minimum acceptable diet, it said
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 per cent, the highest for any country in this report,” it said. Even conflict-ridden Yemen and climate crisis-hit Djibouti fared better than India on that front.
The official national survey, too, put the prevalence of wasting in India at 21 per cent. Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra were the big states that contributed to the high wasting percentage in the country, according to the National Family Health Survey of 2015-16.
India has demonstrated an improvement in other indicators constituting the index: The under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children, and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food. Globally, the number of hungry people rose 5 per cent in the most recent three years: From 785 million in 2015 to 822 million in 2018. Many countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010, the report said.