GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger
Context: According to the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), India’s poor performance on specific international indicators despite rising per capita income is due to methodological issues.
Socio-development indicators where systematic biases exist:
- Childhood Stunting,
- Female Labour Force Participation Rate and
- Life Expectancy
The impact of methodological issues:
- Conceptual ambiguity, flawed benchmarks and shoddy methodology → flawed estimation → overestimating the level of deprivation.
- The growing use of Environment Social and Governance (ESG) norms in investment and trade decisions will mean that real-world decision-making will be increasingly impacted by biased data.
What aggravates the problem?
- The Indian statistical authorities do not publish accurate data on a regular basis.
- For example, the registrar general of India (RGI) publishes life expectancy estimates every year. However, the official estimates for 2019 were released in July 2022 by RGI.
- The global hunger index (GHI) of FAO captures three dimensions of hunger: insufficient availability of food, shortfalls in the nutritional status of children and child mortality (which is mainly attributable to undernutrition).
- The 2022 index has ranked India at 107 among 121 countries.
- According to the Indian government, the index is an erroneous measure of hunger and suffers from serious methodological issues.
- Three out of the four indicators used for the calculation of the index are related to the health of Children and cannot be representative of the entire population.
- The fourth and most important indicator estimate of the Proportion of the Undernourished (PoU) population is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3000.
- To counter the global mismatches, Indian statistical authorities must publish their own estimates proactively.
- In order to be on time, this can be done based even on partial data, which can be updated later. This is done in the case of GDP.
Global Hunger Index
Despite the Consistent experience of High growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive. (UPSC 2019)