Govt says Global Hunger Index erroneous, suffers from serious methodological issues
New Delhi: India’s ranking at 107 in the Global Hunger Index is part of a consistent effort to taint the country’s image as “a nation that does not fulfill the food security and nutritional requirements of its population”, the Centre said on Saturday and added the index suffers from serious methodological issues and is “erroneous measure of hunger”.
The Women and Child Development Ministry in a statement said the matter was taken up with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) not to use such estimates based on FIES (Food Insecurity Experience Scale) survey module data in July 2022 as the statistical output of the same will not be based on merit.
“Though an assurance was forthcoming that there will be further engagement on this issue, the publication of the Global Hunger Index report irrespective of such factual considerations is regrettable,” the ministry said.
India ranked 107 out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2022 with its child wasting rate at 19.3 percent, being the highest in the world.
The ministry said, “A consistent effort is yet again visible to taint India’s image as a nation that does not fulfill the food security and nutritional requirements of its population. Misinformation seems to be the hallmark of the annually released Global Hunger Index.”
“The Global Hunger Report 2022 released by Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, Non-Government Organisations from Ireland and Germany respectively, has ranked India at 107 among 121 countries. The index is an erroneous measure of hunger and suffers from serious methodological issues,” the ministry said.
The Centre said three out of the four indicators used for 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 Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3000,” it said.
The report is not only disconnected from ground reality but also chooses to deliberately ignore efforts made by the government to ensure food security for the population, especially during the Covid pandemic, the government said.
Taking a one-dimensional view, the Centre said the report lowers India’s rank based on the estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population for India at 16.3 percent.
The government said it is evident such questions do not search for facts based on relevant information about the delivery of nutritional support and assurance of food security by the government.
The per capita dietary energy supply in India, as estimated by FAO from the Food Balance Sheets, has been increasing year-on-year owing to enhanced production of major agricultural commodities in the country over the years and there is absolutely no reason why the country’s undernourishment levels should increase, the Centre said.
The ministry said the three other indicators apart from PoU, included in Global Hunger Index relate primarily to children viz. stunting, wasting and under 5 mortality.
“These indicators are outcomes of complex interactions of various other factors like drinking water, sanitation, genetics, environment and utilisation of food intake apart from hunger, which is taken as the causative/outcome factor for stunting and wasting in the GHI. Calculating hunger based on mainly indicators relating to health indicators of children is neither scientific nor rational,” it said.