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Analysis of India’s performance in Global Hunger Index (GHI)

Topics Covered: Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Analysis of India’s performance in Global Hunger Index (GHI):

What is the Global Hunger Index and what determines its ranking?

It is an annual peer-reviewed publication by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

It tracks hunger at global, regional and national levels.

It uses four parameters to calculate its scores:

  1. UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient).
  2. 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).
  3. CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition).
  4. CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

0 to 100 point scale:

Zero means  no hunger at all.

  1. Countries scoring 9.9 and less are classified as having a low severity.
  2. A score between 10 and 19.9 is considered moderate, that from 20 to 34.9 is serious, and a score of 35 or more is alarming.

Findings from the 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI):

  1. Nearly 690 million people in the world are undernourished; 144 million children suffer from stunting, a sign of chronic undernutrition; 47 million children suffer from wasting, also a sign of acute undernutrition.

India and neighbours:

  1. India has been ranked 94 out of 107 countries, lower than neighbours like Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  2. India falls in the ‘serious’ category on the Index, with a total score of 27.2. This is a definite improvement from the situation two decades ago, when it scored 38.9 and fell into the ‘alarming’ category.
  3. India’s performance is abysmal when compared to its peers in the BRICS countries.

India’s performance in various parameters (Have a general overview):

  1. Overall undernourishment: 14% of India’s population does not get enough calories, an improvement from almost 20% in 2005-07.
  2. The child mortality rate is 3.7%, a significant drop from 9.2% in 2000.
  3. Child stunting: Almost 35% of Indian children are stunted, and although this is much better than the 54.2% rate of 2000, it is still among the world’s worst.
  4. Child Wasting: 17.3% of Indian children under five are wasted, which is the highest prevalence of child wasting in the world.

States that usually fare poorly on development indices, such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Odisha, actually do better than the national average, with 13-14% rates of wasting.

What is the main cause for such high levels of child stunting and wasting in India?

  • Poor maternal health: South Asian babies show very high levels of wasting very early in their lives, within the first six months. This reflects the poor state of maternal health.
  • Mothers are too young, too short, too thin and too undernourished themselves, before they get pregnant, during pregnancy, and then after giving birth, during breast-feeding.
  • Poor sanitation is another major cause of child wasting and stunting.


Prelims Link:

  1. About GHI.
  2. Parameters.
  3. Ranking of countries.
  4. India’s performance- 2020 vs 2019.
  5. Scores on various parameters.
  6. India’s neighbours.

Mains Link:

Comment on India’s performance in latest Global Health Index.

Sources: the Hindu.