AIR spotlight summary on “India and Global Hunger Index”
US based agency tracking global hunger has released the Global Hunger Index where India is ranked poorly among 118 countries. The Index tries to see whether the people are fed properly, status of under nutrition, malnourishment in children generally and among specific population like tribes and other malnourished section of the population.
- The report highlights the issue of poverty and hunger. Despite all the measures taken by the government and lot of schemes being rolled the situation has not improved.
- India is ranked 97 out of 118 countries. When we compare it with other Asian countries, India has not performed well in Poverty and Hunger Index. Only Pakistan is behind us. This is not the first time that any global report is showing us the mirror.
Reason for India’s continuous decline in Global Hunger Index
- Depending too much on statistics, because there is a saying that 99% of the statistics explain only 49% of the story. Sometimes statistics has its own problem. The fact is Global Hunger Index is taken seriously by all the countries.
- One of the factors is the huge population that India has. It took time in case of china, which is still struggling, but their rate was much faster and their policy was efficient.
- There are various factors like overall poverty, unemployment, lack of safe drinking water, poor sanitation, and lack of effective health care. These are some of the issues which combine together and cause difficulties in the realisation of the objectives of various policy initiatives. These issues are responsibility of the state government. In the federal structure centre can support on certain aspects and the rest of the responsibility has to be taken from the state governments.
- HDI is released every year and they tell us where the problem lies. India does extremely well when it comes to economic growth. But when we factor in the indices for health and education, we are pulled back in the charts.
- India is the fastest growing major economy in the world. So the expectations are that the growth will have an impact on the status of poor, malnourished and hungry citizens. But this will take some time.
- There are some areas in which India is performing better. Thanks to the Mid Day Meal scheme. Children are being provided the right kind of meals. It may not be available universally, to tribal and backward areas, but the scheme has started performing well.
- Recently the 14th finance commission has allocated more resources to the states and there is fear among development experts that states may not be able to absorb that kind of funding or may not be able to spend the funds in the targeted manner.
- We foresee the problem increasing because a lot of central schemes have now been scrapped and states have to take on lot of burden.
Reasons behind Poverty and Hunger
- One of the major factors behind poverty and hunger is unemployment. Over the past 5 years there has been higher rate of unemployment. Lack of generating new jobs although the new Skill Development initiative is progressing. The growth without jobs is happening globally and not just in India. This is because of a variety of factors and most importantly automation in the technology.
- We have a new challenge of sustainability because of climate change and automation. There are lot of socialist schemes initiated in the country. The schemes like MGNREGA has not provided heartening results in the implementation, there have been debates whether the jobs generated through MGNREGA are actually adding to the quality of life of the poor people.
- The government has been revisiting the MGNREGA module to suit the needs of the present time. Earlier it concentrated on building roads and digging wells and permanent asset creation was not happening.
- Health is a state subject. Centre has enacted so many laws and many states have not implemented it.
- For the current Global Hunger index is concerned we need to factor in the issue that we had 2 consecutive drought years.
Need of the Hour
- There is a need to spend more money on health, education, and social sector. Smaller states are able to perform well. At some stage it is the question of developmental model because there are various factors that we have to factor in. In the GDP led growth there is a need to take care of right kind of policy which will benefit, provide states with incentives and distribution and equity.
- Attention to agriculture is the need of the hour. There was a time when agriculture was contributing immensely to the GDP. Today its contribution is dwindling every year. People seem less interested in farm sector. That is the reason we see large migration to the urban areas.
- We need a development model which ensures high growth, distribution of wealth, creation of jobs, and mix of technology so that large number of people benefit from the growth. Models and policies that will enable smooth transition from rural and agriculture dominated economy to an urban economy.
- India and even globally is confronting more of natural calamities in the backdrop of climate change. India should be better prepared for these calamities. We need to have a long term master plan to deal with the crisis, ensure that people are alleviated.
- In terms of global hunger, the Brazilian model is successful. The centre of the policy was women. The money was transferred to women; women should ensure that the child is taken to the school and to the primary health centre. It was a PPP model. It was a model where federal government, state and local government came together. We need to learn from the global experience.
- Along with government there are certain things which women alone can do like breastfeeding the child. The government is working to spread the awareness regarding the importance of breastfeeding which can take care of undernourishment of children.