The Global Hunger Index report for the year 2020 has been released and India has shown remarkable improvement in the Index. While in 2019, India ranked 102nd out of the 117 nations analysed, in 2020, India has ranked 94th out of the 107 nations that were analysed in the report.
The Global Hunger Index is a peer-reviewed annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.
The level of hunger in India is still considered ‘serious’ according to the report published, however, India seems to have made sufficient strides in the past year.
India has also made strides and improved its GHI score (Global Hunger Index Score).
While in 2019, India’s GHI score was 30.3, in 2020, India has improved its score to 27.2.
In the year 2020, however, the GHI score has improved to 27.2.
It is pertinent to note here that the scale that signifies what score would be considered ‘serious’ is the same in both the years. Both scales say that a score between 20.0 to 34.9 would put the country under the ‘serious’ category and hence, the improvement in the score is comparable.
While India has shown improvement over the years, according to the report, 14 per cent of India’s population is still undernourished. It also says that the country recorded a child stunting rate of 37.4 per cent. Stunted children are those who have a “low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition”.
The GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. It is calculated on the basis of four indicators — undernourishment, child wasting, the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition; and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
The Global Hunger Index has been an affair that sparks much outrage in India every year, fuelled by motivated media headlines and political shenanigans. In the year 2019, Congress had claimed that Prime Minister Modi had led India to ruins since when the Congress party was in power, India was in the ‘moderate’ category in Global Hunger Index while it is only after 2014 that India has featured in the ‘serious’ category.
This assertion, however, was completely baseless. 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.”
In 2014, the scale of the Hunger Index was completely different and in 2020, the scale is different. For example, in 2014, the scale 10.0 to 19.9 was considered ‘serious’ and in 2020, the scale 20.0 to 34.9 is considered serious. In 2014, India got a score of 17.8 while in 2020, India has got a score of 27.2. For the motivated media and politicians, this would imply that India has slipped in its score, however, that would be far from the truth since the scale itself has changed over the years. Both years, 2014 and 2020, India was in the ‘serious’ category and thus, even Global Hunger Index says that year on year comparison of the index does not provide an accurate picture.
However, while comparing the scores of GHI from 2019 to 2020, one realises that the scale is exactly the same and hence, one can safely say that India has indeed improved from a score of 30.3 to a score of 27.2 in one year.