Global Hunger Index-2019: Analyzing Government Response

India has ranked 102 in the Global Hunger Index, out of 117 qualified countries. Most of this poor performance has been attributed to the increase in the prevalence of wasting in children below the age of 5.

What is the problem India is facing?

Hunger is defined by caloric deficiency. Malnutrition is the lack of proteins and other nutrients, often descrives as protein hunger and hidden hunger. 4 out of 10 children in India fail to meet their nutrition needs leading to undernutrition or stunting. This, in turn, leads to decreased mental capacity, increased chronic disease, and the birth of underweight children in malnutritioned parents. It has also been reported that more than half of the women in India between the age of 15 and 49 are anemic.

What steps is the government taking?

The government has had a long-standing mid-day meal program in schools but it doesn’t seem to be solving the problem at large. Now, the government has taken to awareness. ENcouraging nutrition gardens at schools to teach children about cultivating food and the food value of fruits and vegetables is an ambitious step. The idea is to help children and their parents realize which food is of more value to them and to skill them to cultivate those at home. The government is also aiding agricultural institutes to bring in more genetic diversity in cropping. India has a huge library of 811 cultivated plants and over 900 of its wild varieties. There is no reason we cannot leverage this abundance of resources.

What are the other challenges being faced?

Right now, there is a multitude of problems being faced by the world, including India, which is leading to food insecurity. Global warming is bringing extreme weather conditions leading to floods, droughts, and overall climate disasters. Internal conflicts in many nations are threatening food production worldwide.

How are these challenges being met?

India is committed to pushing ecologically sustainable agriculture in order to deal with food scarcity. From conserving wild relatives of cultivated crops for more genetic diversity in agriculture to sustainable farming of livestock, India is trying it all. Other things that are on the cards to ecologically sensitive farming, preparing and using agrobiodiversity indices, developing a national level invasive alien species policy and most importantly, designing a proper risk assessment and thwarting system.

Way Forward

India has long depended on a small genetic basket to grow its food crops. It is now time that culinary diversification and a change in consumption pattern is encouraged so that we may increase the size of our food basket. It is also important to become more self-sufficient by adopting indigenous crops and livestock species so that our food supply is not dependent on the stability within a foreign nation or our ties with them. India must protect its food and nutrition security and discover ways to extend its benefits to all its citizens.

Question for UPSC Mains:
India is ranked 102 in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) out of 117 qualified countries. Discuss how the government has taken cognizance of the problem and fighting it despite challenges.

Published: January 13, 2020 | Modified:January 13, 2020

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