India continues to have serious levels of widespread hunger forcing it to be ranked a lowly 97 among 118 developing countries for which the Global Hunger Index (GHI) was calculated this year.
Countries worse than India include extremely poor African countries such as Niger, Chad, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone besides two of India’s neighbours: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and China are all ranked above India.
The GHI is calculated by taking into account four key parameters: shares of undernourished population, wasted and stunted children aged under 5, and infant mortality rate of the same age group.
Of the 131 countries studied, data was available for 118 countries. This year, for the first time, two measures of child hunger -wasting and stunting -have been used to give a more complete picture. Wasting refers to low weight in relation to a child’s height, reflecting acute undernutrition.Stunting refers to the deficiency in height in relation to age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) makes the annual calculations of GHI. Basing its readings on the most recent data, the 2016 GHI for India was derived from the fact that an estimated 15% population is undernourished -lacking in adequate food intake, both in quantity and quality .
The share of under-5 children who are `wasted’ is about 15% while the share of children who are `stunted’ is a staggering 39%. This reflects widespread and chronic lack of balanced food. The under-5 mortality rate is 4.8% in India, partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments.