How India’s rank in Global Hunger Index 2020 be Reduced?

In the recently published Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020 report, India ranked 94 among 107 nations falling in the serious hunger category. According to the report, 14% of India’s population is undernourished. The country recorded a 37.4% stunting rate among children under five and a wasting rate of 17.3%. The under-five mortality rate stood at 3.7%. Last year, India ranked 102 out of 117 nations in the same report.

“The world is not on track to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal – known as Zero Hunger for short – 2030.”
– Global Hunger Index 2020

It is to be noted that India, the “Big Brother” of South-east Asia falls below its neighbours like Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Pakistan in the hunger index. While Bangladesh ranked 75, Myanmar and Pakistan are in the 78th and 88th position. Nepal and Sri Lanka were in 73rd and 64th position and were in the ‘moderate’ hunger category.

Seventeen nations, including China, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI scores of less than five.

Experts blame poor implementation processes and lack of effective monitoring in tackling malnutrition and poor performance large states behind the low ranking. Purnima Menon, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, said the performance of large states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh need to be improved to see an overall change of India’s ranking.

“Every fifth child born in India is in Uttar Pradesh. So if you have a high level of malnutrition in a state that has a high population, it contributes a lot to India’s average. Obviously, then, India’s average will be slow to move,”
– Purnima Menon (to PTI)

Was it possible to curtail ‘Growing Hunger’ in India?

With this recent unveiling of the not so-old story of hunger in India, we need to question where exactly the funds are getting allocated in the name of development. Where on one hand the government (both Central & States) has spent crores of rupees in making India the economic giant, on the other hand it has also spent crores in symbolic beautification. The fund invested here could otherwise have been used to curtail poverty and hunger prevailing in the nation. Below mentioned are few such projects:

ProjectCost Incurred/SanctionedPurpose
The Statue of UnityRs 2989 croreTribute to the first Deputy Prime Minister of independent India who was responsible for the integration of hundreds of princely states into the modern Republic of India.
New Parliament BuildingRs 971 crore`As per Union Housing and Urban Affairs minister Hardeep Puri, the facilities and amenities of the 93-year-old existing Parliament building “are highly inadequate to meet the current demand of the Parliament.”
Foriegn Visits of Indian PM (58 countries since 2015)Rs 517.82 croreMuraleedharan, in his written reply to Rajya Sabha in this Monsoon session said Modi’s visits to the countries have enhanced their understanding of India’s perspectives on bilateral, regional and global issues.

Imagine what change would have brought even if 10% of the sanctioned amount for each project would have been used to fill empty stomachs. No doubt economic development is essential for any nation, but it is a distant dream if it can fulfill the basic demands of its citizens.