[Answered] Despite being a major food producer with extensive food security schemes and the largest public distribution system in the world, India still grapples with significant levels of food insecurity, hunger, and child malnutrition. Analyze the statement with reference to the State Hunger Index and discuss how it is different to the Global Hunger Index.

Introduction: Give brief context of the question.

Body: Give comparison between State Hunger Index (SHI) and the Global Hunger Index (GHI).

Conclusion: Way forward.

The statement highlights a paradox in India’s food security situation. India is indeed a major food producer with extensive food security schemes and the largest public distribution system in the world, but it continues to face significant challenges related to food insecurity, hunger, and child malnutrition. As per fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data, 18% of children between ages 6-23 months, did not eat any food whatsoever in the 24 hours preceding the survey. This paradox can be analyzed in the context of the State Hunger Index (SHI) and compared to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) to gain a deeper understanding.

How is GHI different from SHI?

  • Scope: SHI is specific to India and measures hunger at the state level, whereas GHI assesses hunger and malnutrition globally, comparing countries.
  • Measurement: The Global Hunger Index (GHI), 2022, ranked India 107 among 121 countries. The GHI provides a composite measurement and tracks undernourishment and hunger at the national level across three dimensions: calorie undernourishment, child malnutrition, and under-five mortality. It is jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerlife. The State Hunger Index (SHI) is calculated using the same indicators as those in GHI except for calorie undernourishment, which is replaced by body mass index (BMI) undernourishment among the working-age population. It is published by the International Food Policy Research Institute.
  • Indicators of comparison: Child stunting and wasting are two indicators included in the GHI that give a more complete picture of malnutrition. SHI primarily addresses food security and hunger.
  • Policy Implications: While both indices can inform policy decisions, the GHI is more suitable for countries looking to benchmark their progress against global standards, while the SHI is tailored to the specific regional and state-level challenges within India.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, for Indian states to progress along the SHI, and to ensure that SHI scores for Indian states are more closely aligned with GHI scores of countries with comparable economic growth, investments will be needed to strengthen agriculture, improve overall food availability and access to all population segments, and to improve child nutrition and mortality outcomes. To better understand food security for all populations in India, assessments using household-level food insecurity modules developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation can be adapted. India must achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 of “zero hunger”, by 2030 through Mission Poshan 2.0 program while ensuring affordable access to sufficient quantity and quality of nutritionally diverse food, with a special and immediate focus on India’s youngest children.

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