Global Hunger Index 2012- Indian Perspective

Salient features of Global Hunger Index (GHI) report of 2012 with special reference to India:

The Global Hunger Index is a multidimensional statistical tool used to describe the state of countries’ hunger situation. The GHI measures progress and failures in the global fight against hunger. GHI is updated once a year.

The index was adopted and further developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and was first published in 2006. The GHI 2012 was calculated for 120 developing countries and countries in transition. In addition to ranking, the GHI report focuses every year on a main topic: in 2012 Pressures on land, water and energy resources. The question of how food security and sustainable use of natural resources can be achieved, when the natural sources of food become scarcer and scarcer, is the vital. 

Salient Features:

GHI 2012 identifies several factors contributing to an increasing shortage of natural resources. The stark reality is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources, while eliminating wasteful practices and policies.

Demographic changes, income increases, climate change, and poor policies and institutions are driving natural resource scarcity in ways that threaten food production and the environment on which it depends.

Food security is now inextricably linked to developments in the water, energy, and land sectors. Rising energy prices affect farmers’ costs for fuel and fertilizer, increase demand for biofuel crops relative to food crops, and raise the price of water use.

Agriculture already occurs within a context of land scarcity in terms of both quantity and quality: the world’s best arable land is already under cultivation, and unsustainable agricultural practices have led to significant land degradation. The scarcity of farmland coupled with shortsighted bioenergy policies has led to major foreign investments in land in a number of developing countries, putting local people’s land rights at risk.

In addition, water is scarce and likely to become scarcer with climate change.

India’s track record is poor and it has stagnated in the year 2012. The concern rises further by the fact that India has progressed in economic terms but this progress has not translated in overall improvement in Hunger Index. With increase in per capita income, it is generally expected that economic progress is commensurate with reduction in GHI.

In India, 43.5 percent of children under five are underweight and this rate accounts for almost two- thirds of the country’s alarmingly high GHI score. As per latest data, India ranked second to last on child underweight out of 129 countries.

It must be emphasized that child undernutrition is not simply the outcome of a lack of food in the household. There are many other potential causes, such as lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet, improper caring and feeding practices, or frequent infections, which often result from inadequate health services or unsanitary environments. Women’s low status in India and other parts of South Asia contributes to children’s poor nutritional outcomes in the region because children’s development and mothers’ well-being are closely linked: women’s poor nutritional status, low education, and low social status undermine their ability to give birth to well-nourished babies and to adequately feed and care for their children. According to surveys during 2000–06, 36 percent of Indian women of childbearing age were underweight, compared with only 16 percent in 23 Sub-Saharan African countries .

Another important issue is absence of up-to-dated information about undernourishment of children. Due to this effectiveness of the program remains immeasurable. India is in dire need of having a system of monitoring, which generated regular data on the important indicators of undernourishment of children.
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