In light of India’s recent performance in the Global Hunger Index, discuss the challenges and way forward in achieving food and nutritional security.

India has been ranked 107th out of 121 countries in the global hunger index of 2022. With a score of 29.1, India has been put in the serious category, where 0 indicates zero hunger. India was ranked 101st out of 116 countries in the global hunger index of 2021.

The decline in the position of India in GHI has posed serious questions regarding the efficacy of government initiatives towards eradicating hunger.

Global hunger index:

  • GHI measures and tricks hunger at global level, considering multiple dimensions of hunger.
  • The scores in the GHI are based on four indicators, viz. Undernourishment (Insufficient calorie intake), child stunting (Low height for their age), child wasting (Low weight for their height), child mortality (Children who die before their fifth birthday).
  • It is a 100 point scale where zero is the best case scenario and hundred is the worst.

India’s performance in GHI:

  • The percentage of child wasting is measured at 19.3% which is the highest of any country in the world.
  • The percentage of undernourishment stands at 16.3% for 2019-2021, which has declined from 14.6% in 2018-2020.
  • The child mortality rate has dropped from 4.6% to 3.3%.
  • Child stunting has also declined from 38.7% to 35.5%.
  • India has ranked worst among All South Asian countries except Afghanistan.

Reasons behind India’s poor performance:

  • Despite having surplus food grains, there is calorific deficiency because of improper and unequal distribution.
  • The nutritional deficiency is prevalent in India because of the focus on wheat and rice. The skewed MSP policy is a major reason behind this.
  • Lack of a diverse food basket. Various crops like millets, pulses or not grown at large scale.
  • Scarcity of safe drinking water and lack of sanitation.
  • Lack of awareness and education.
  • A vicious cycle of poverty and hunger.
  • Lack of agri-infrastructure like cold storage.
  • Lack of climate resilient agricultural practises.
  • COVID-19.

Government initiatives:

  • Eat right India movement.
  • Poshan abhiyan.
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana.
  • Food fortification.
  • Food security act.
  • Mid-day meal.
  • Mission IndraDhanush.
  • Integrated Child development services scheme.

Remedial measures:

  • Improvement in agricultural infrastructure like cold storage to avoid post-harvest losses.
  • Better connectivity to rural areas.
  • Increasing awareness.
  • Promote diversity in agriculture, including pulses, millets and other coarse grains.
  • Development of the livestock sector for better availability of milk products, eggs, etc.

Way forward:
To achieve the target of zero hunger and sustainable development goals, it is imperative to address these issues on war footing.

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