Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe published the 16th edition of the Global Hunger Index 2021, which ranked India 101st out of 116 countries. India was ranked 94th out of 107 countries in GHI 2020. India has fallen behind many of its neighbours, notably Pakistan, which is ranked 72nd, Nepal and Bangladesh, which are ranked 76th, and Myanmar, which is ranked 71st. According to the research, COVID-19 limitations have had a significant influence on India, making it the “nation with the highest child wasting rate in the world.” Ministry of Women and Child Development, GOI, expressed sharp reaction to the report saying that the rank of India is based on FAO’s estimate of undernourished population which is “devoid of ground reality and suffers from serious methodological questions”. The Ministry’s questioning of the technique sparked outrage and debate across the board, but the underlying worry remained. Since 2000, India has experienced significant progress, but child nutrition remains a key concern. In 2000, India’s GHI score was 38.8 points (called “alarming”), but by 2021, it had plummeted to 27.5 points (considered “severe”). With the highest Child Wasting Rate of all countries at 17.3 percent, India’s performance has deteriorated from 1998-99, when the rate was 17.1 percent. Given the urgency of the issue, the government should give hunger and child nutrition in India top priority.

The COVID-19 epidemic has exacerbated the situation, leaving a segment of society with more difficult battles to fight. A petition at the Supreme Court of India has been filed in response to the food crisis, claiming that malnutrition and hunger are responsible for 69 percent of deaths in children under the age of five every day. It deems the situation to be in violation of various fundamental rights and requests a directive to all states and UTs to develop a plan to construct community kitchens around the country to battle hunger. The Supreme Court has decided to hear the case on October 27. The Union Budget of India 2021-22 proposed POSHAN 2.0, an all-encompassing scheme including Integrated Child Development Services, as a step toward eradicating malnutrition and promoting wellbeing.

In addition, guidelines for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme have been updated, directing on the procurement of AGMARK quality commodities for Mid-day Meal preparation. While numerous milestones have been addressed and attained, there is still much work to be done.

Picture Credits: Business Standard

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