Dip in India’s rank in Global Hunger Index ‘shocking’, methodology used is ‘unscientific’: Centre

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday said it was shocking that India’s rank was lowered on the Global Hunger Index and it termed the methodology used for rankings “unscientific”.

India slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th. It is now behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

The GHI report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hungerhilfe, termed the level of hunger in the country “alarming”.

Reacting sharply to the Global Hunger Report 2021, the Women and Child Development Ministry said it is “shocking” to find that it 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 Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hungerhilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report,” the ministry said in a statement.

The methodology used by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is “unscientific”, the ministry claimed.

“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,” it said.

The ministry said the report “completely disregards” the government’s massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the Covid period, verifiable data on which are available.

“The opinion poll does not have a single question on whether the respondent received any food support from the government or other sources. The representativeness of even this opinion poll is doubtful for India and other countries,” it said.

The ministry said it is noted with surprise in the FAO report ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021’ that other four countries of this region, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, have not been affected at all by COVID-19 pandemic induced loss of job/business and reduction in income levels.

It said that, instead, the nations have been able to improve their position on the indicator ‘proportion of undernourished population’ by 4.3 per cent, 3.3 per cent, 1.3 per cent and 0.8 per cent points, respectively, during the period 2018-20 over 2017-19.

?The Global Hunger Report 2021 and FAO report have “completely ignored” the facts available in public domain, the WCD Ministry added.

The ministry also listed efforts taken by it like the implementation of additional nationwide schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna (PMGKAY) and the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme (ANBS).

It said that during 2020, 3.22 crore (32.2 million) metric tons of food grains, and during 2021, about 3.28 crore (32.8 million) metric tons of food grains, have been allocated free of cost under the PMGKAY scheme to approximately 80 crore (800 million) beneficiaries.

The ministry said that to prevent disruption in the employment of wage-earners getting below Rs 15,000 per month in organised sector businesses having less than 100 workers, the government deposited 24 per cent of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for three months from April to June, 2020.

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

“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,” the ministry said.

In 2020, India was ranked 94th out of 107 countries. Now with 116 countries in the fray, it has dropped to 101st rank.

India’s GHI score has also decelerated, from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.8-27.5 between 2012 and 2021.

The GHI score is calculated on four indicators, undernourishment, child wasting (share of children under age of five who are wasted i.e who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition), child stunting (children under age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition) and child mortality (mortality rate of children under age of five).