Know India’s Questions and GHI’s Answers on Global Hunger Index 2021

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India rejected the Global Hunger Index 2021 which has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO estimate on proportion of undernourished population, which is found to be devoid of ground reality and facts and suffers from serious methodological issues.

New Delhi (ABC Live India):  The Ministry of Women and Child Development on 15/10/2021 issued a statement on Global Hunger Index 2021 that the Global Hunger Index 2021 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO estimate on proportion of undernourished population, which is found to be devoid of ground reality and facts and suffers from serious methodological issues. The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Index , Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report.

Know the grounds taken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to question the India’s ranks 101st out of the 116 countries.

Further the Ministry claimed that methodology used by FAO is unscientific. They have based their assessment on the results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup. The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and Height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population.

As per this report, India’s position on the first indicator, child mortality, has improved in 2021 compared with 2020. Position on two indicators, i.e., child wasting and child stunting, has remained unchanged in 2021 compared with 2020.”

Also, the report completely disregards Government’s massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the COVID-19 period, verifiable data on which are available. in public domain:

As part of Economic Response to Covid-19, Government of India has implemented additional nation-wide schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna (PMGKAY) and Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme (ANBS).

Under PMGKAY, Government of India has made allocation of food grains @ 5 kg per person per month free of cost for around 80 Crore (800 million) beneficiaries of the 36 States/UTs covered under National Food Security Act (Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Priority Households) including those covered under Direct Benefit Transfer for the period April to November 2O2O and again for the period May to November 2021.

During the year 2O2O, 3.22 Crore (32.2 million) Metric Tons of food grains and during the year 2021, about 3.28 Crore (32.8 million) Metric Tons of food grains have been allocated free of cost under PMGKAY scheme to approximately 80 Crore (800 million) NFSA beneficiaries.

ln addition to food grains, pulses have been provided @ 1 kg per household per month for the period April to November 2020 free of cost to all beneficiaries under NFSA covering 19.4 Crore (194 million) households.

Under ANBS, Government made allocation of about 8 Lakh (800 thousand) Metric Tons of additional free of cost food grains covering all the States/UTs for migrants/stranded migrants who were neither covered under NFSA nor State Scheme PDS cards, @ 5 kg per person per month free of cost for a period of two months, May and June 2020. In addition to food grains, about 0.27 Lakh (27 thousand) Metric Tons whole chana was allocated under ANBS for this period.

The allocation of free food grains, pulses/whole chana under PMGKAY and ANBS was in addition to normal allocation done under the NFSA

ln addition to PMGKAY and ANBS, Government of India has allocated food grains under Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic) for all the beneficiaries to whom ration cards have been issued by the State Governments under their own schemes but who are not covered under NFSA for three months from April to June 2020 at Rs. 21 per Kg. wheat and Rs. 22/- per Kg. rice. There is no upper limit for allocation of food grains.  This scheme has been extended beyond May 2021.

To prevent disruption in the employment of the wage-earners below Rs 15,000/- per month in organized sector businesses having less than 100 workers, government paid 24 percent of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for three months, April to June 2020.

MNREGA wages were increased by Rs 20/- with effect from 1 April 2020 to provide an additional Rs 2,000/- benefit annually to a worker to benefit approximately 13.62 Crore (136.2 million) families.

The first instalment of Rs 2,000/- due in 2020-21 was front-loaded and paid in April 2020 itself under the PM KISAN Yojana to benefit 8.7 Crore (87 million) farmers.

A total of 20.4 Crore (204 million) Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna women account-holders were given ex-gratia of Rs. 500/- per month for three months, April to June 2020.

Limit of collateral free lending was increased from Rs 10 to Rs 20 Lakhs (Rs. 1 million to 2 million) for women organised through 63 Lakh (6.3 million) Self Help Groups (SHGs) supporting 6.85 Crore (68.5 million) households.

Government gave Rs 1,000/- per month from April to June 2020 to 3 Crore (30 million) aged widows and people in Divyang category who are vulnerable due to economic disruption caused by COVID-19 to tide over difficulties.

Answers of publishers of GHI 2021

As per the official website of the publishing agencies the Global Hunger Index is an annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, claimed that the aim of the GHI is to trigger action to reduce hunger around the world.

On the Question of does the 2021 GHI reflect the situation in 2021?

The publishers of The Global Hunger Index say that, “The GHI uses the most up-to-date data available for each of the GHI indicators, meaning the scores are only as current as the data. For the calculation of the 2021 GHI scores, undernourishment data are from 2018–2020; child stunting and child wasting data are from 2016–2020, with the most current data from that range used for each country; and child mortality data are from 2019. In 2021, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the values of some of the GHI component indicators, and in turn the GHI scores, are likely to worsen, but any changes that occur in 2021 are not yet reflected in the data and scores in this year’s report.”

Further on the question why is a certain country’s GHI score so high (or so low)?

The publishers says that, “The key to understanding a country’s GHI score lies in that country’s indicator values, especially when compared with the indicator values for other countries in the report (see Appendix D for these values). For some countries, high scores are driven by high rates of undernourishment, reflecting a lack of calories for large swathes of the population. For others, high scores result from high levels of child wasting, reflecting acute undernutrition; child stunting, reflecting chronic undernutrition; and/or child mortality, reflecting children’s hunger and nutrition levels, as well as other extreme challenges facing the population. Broadly speaking, then, a high GHI score can be evidence of a lack of food, a poor-quality diet, inadequate child care giving practices, an unhealthy environment, or all of these factors.

While it is beyond the scope of this report to provide a detailed explanation of the circumstances facing each country with a GHI score, the Results page and the Country Case Studies describe the situation in select countries. Furthermore, this report offers other avenues for examining a country’s hunger and nutrition situation: country rankings based on 2021 GHI scores appear in Table 1.1; GHI scores for selected years for each country appear in the sortable rankings; and regional comparisons appear in Appendix F.”

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