The Global Hunger Index for the year 2019 was released this week, where India continued to occupy a place towards the bottom of the index. This year India was ranked at 102 among 117 countries, while the rank was 103 was among 119 countries last year.
After the publication of the index jointly prepared by the Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, the Congress party and its leaders have been using it to attack the Modi government. They are claiming that India’s position has gone down in the index after the NDA government came to power.
Yesterday the Congress party claimed that our situation has gone from moderate to serious in just 5 years. The posted an image showing that India’s score in the index in 2014 was 17.8, while the same has gone up to 30.0 in 2019, implying a huge drop India’s score.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also claimed that India’s position in the Global Hunger Index has been falling steadily since 2014. In a tweet today he said that now India’s position has crashed to 102/117. “This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow “sabka vikas” claim, parroted by Modia,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Not only the Congress party, almost all media houses also have reported that India’s position in the index has gone down. But that is a totally false claim.
Although there is no doubt that India’s rank at 102 among 117 countries is very dismal, it is not true that India’s position has ‘dropped’, as India’s rank in the index was not any better in the earlier years. India has been making very marginal improvements over the years, and it was not dramatically better before 2014 as the Congress party is claiming.
India’s score for the year 2019 is indeed 30.3 which falls under serious category, as tweeted by Congress party. But India’s score in 2014 was not in moderate category as they are claiming, they have put the 2014 score on the 2019 scale to present a completely misleading and false picture of India’s ranking in 2014, because the scale is different for each year, and value for one year can’t be placed in scale of another year.
The 2014 report of the Global Hunger Index shows that India’s score was indeed 17.8, but it was not in the moderate category as claimed by Congress. It was in serious category in 2014 also, as the scale for serious category was 10-19.9 in 2014, while the same is 35.0-49.9 for the year 2019. Likewise, the range for serious was 20-34.9 in 2017, and India had scored 31.4 in that year.
Therefore, the value of one year can’t put in the scale of another year to compare the scores, as the scale itself is different in each year. The 2014 rank 17.8 score implies serious category as per 2014 scale, but the Congress party has put it in the 2019 scale to claim that it was in the moderate category using the 2019 scale, which is an absolute lie.
The Global Hunger Index clearly states that the GHI scores can be compared with other countries in a year, but they can’t be compared with other years. The GHI website says that “the current and historical data on which the GHI scores are based are continually being revised and improved by the United Nations agencies that compile them, and each year’s GHI report reflects these changes. Comparing scores between reports may create the impression that hunger has changed positively or negatively in a specific country from year to year, whereas in some cases the change may be partly or fully a reflection of a data revision.”
They have also pointed out that methodology to calculate the GHI is regularly changed, therefore it can’t be compared across years. For example, in the year 2015, the GHI methodology was changed to include data on child stunting and wasting and to standardize the values. It says, “since 2015, almost all countries have had much higher GHI scores compared with their scores from 2014 and earlier. This does not necessarily mean that their hunger levels rose in 2015”. Therefore, the score of India for 2014 and earlier years can’t be compared with the years after 2014, as scores of all countries have gone up due to change in methodology.
Just like the score, the ranking in the index also can’t be compared across years, as the number of countries included in the index are different every year. For example, there were 117 countries this year while last year the report indexed 119 countries. In 2014, only 76 countries were ranked, therefore the 2014 rank can’t be compared with any other year.
The 2019 GHI can be directly compared with scores of three reference years, 2000, 2005 and 2010. And we can see that India has been making continuous improvement in hunger level at a slow rate. India’s GHI score has been coming down when using data from comparable years, as seen in these charts published by GHI.
This clearly shows that in an attempt to attack the Modi government, Congress fudged the Global Hunger Index numbers to falsely claim that India’s rank has gone down after 2014, as they mixed up numbers and scales from different years.