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Hunger index: Even Bangladesh overtakes India!

Last updated on: October 12, 2012 09:35 IST

Hunger index: Even Bangladesh overtakes India!

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BS Reporter in New Delhi

Despite steady economic growth and robust social sector spending, India's performance in the International Food Policy Research Institute's Global Hunger Index this year lags those of its neighbours -- Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. India stood 65th in the list of 79 nations.

This year, India's GHI score returned to 1996 levels, though it saw a slight improvement compared to 2001.

In 1990, India's GHI score stood at 30.3 points.
This fell to 22.6 in 1996.

However, it rose to 24.2 in 2011 and 22.9 this year.

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Photographs: Reuters

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The lower the index, the lower is the incidence of hunger.

This year, Sri Lanka stood 37th, Pakistan 57th and Nepal stood 60th.

The index raises questions over the pace at which India reduced the proportion of undernourished people, underweight children and child mortality cases, the parameters for the index.

Azerbaijan had the best score in the index, while China stood second.

Even Bangladesh overtook India on a range of social indicators, including how quickly it reduced child mortality, the report showed.

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Image: This rediff file photo shows Aila victims reach out for food and water as a relief boat reaches Bijoynagar in Gosaba, West Bengal.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty/rediff.com

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From 1996, India's hunger index score saw little improvement, despite the country's per capita income almost doubling between 1995-97 and 2008-10, the report said.

"In India, 43.5 per cent of the children under five are underweight, which accounts for almost two-thirds of the country's alarmingly high GHI score.

"From 2005 to 2012, India was ranked second-last on the child underweight parameter -- below Ethiopia, Niger, Nepal and Bangladesh," it added.

Senior IFPRI officials said the biggest challenge before India was translating good intentions into results.

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"India has lagged in improving its GHI score, despite strong economic growth.

"After a small increase between 1996 and 2001, India's GHI score fell only slightly, and the latest GHI returned to 1996 levels," the report said.

China, however, managed to consistently lower its hunger index scores. This year, its score stood at 5.1.

For India, the index considered child mortality data from 2010, Food and Agriculture Organization data on undernourishment from 2006 to 2008 and the latest child underweight data for the 2005-06 period.

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Image: Students have a free meal distributed by a government-run school in Nalchar village, near Agartala.
Photographs: Jayanta Dey/Reuters

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"Given the government of India has failed to monitor national trends in child under-nutrition for more than six years, any recent progress in the fight against child under-nutrition cannot be taken into account by the 2012 GHI.

"Nonetheless, even bearing in mind possible recent advances in the fight against child under nutrition are not yet visible in the latest GHI, India's track record is disappointing," the report said.

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Image: Flood-affected children crowd around a relief worker distributing free milk at a flood relief camp in Purniya in Bihar.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Tags: GHI , India , Bangladesh

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Globally, the report said world hunger had declined since 1990, though it remained 'serious'. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa's GHI scores were the highest.

"South Asia reduced its GHI score significantly between 1990 and 1996, primarily by reducing the share of underweight children, but it could not maintain the rapid progress," the report said.


Image: Homeless people prepare their food on roadside in Ahmedabad.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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