The number of hungry people in India has fallen to by 9.5 per cent to 190.7 million now from 210.8 million two decades ago, but in neigbouring Pakistan the number has risen by over 38 per cent in the same period, a UN report said.
India, however, has the dubious distinction of being home to the maximum number of hungry people in South Asia (190.7 million). Pakistan has 39.6 million hungry people, Bangladesh (26.2 million), Sri Lanka (5.2 million) and Nepal (3.6 million).
According to the report, the number of hungry people in India has come down by 9.5 per cent to 190.7 million 2012-14 from 210.8 million during 1990-92.
The report is jointly prepared by the UN body FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.
In Pakistan, their number has gone up by 38 per cent to 39.6 million from 28.7 million, the report said.
Bangladesh has made good progress as the number of hungry people has come down by over 27 per cent to 26.2 million now from 36 million in 1990-92.
Similarly, their number in Nepal has come down by 14.4 per cent to 3.6 million from 4.2 million, while in Sri Lanka it has come down by 2.6 per cent to 5.2 million from 5.4 million in the same period.
With the number of undernourished people remaining "unacceptably high", the report stressed the need to renew the political commitment to tackle hunger and to transform it into concrete actions.
India and neighouring nations are lagging far behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving hunger by 2015. According to the UN report, 63 developing countries have reached the MDG target to date, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015.
Globally, the number of hungry people has declined by more than 200 million since 1990-92 and currently about 805 million people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from hunger, it said.
"Despite significant progress overall, several regions and sub-regions continue to lag behind. ...Asia, the world's most populous region, is also home to the majority of the hungry - 526 million people," it added.
The UN report said that the MDG target is within reach, "if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up."
Image: India has the maximum number of hungry people in South Asia. Photograph: Arko Datta/Reuters.