New Delhi: India lags behind neighbouring China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in reducing hunger level, says the 2012 Global Hunger Index (GHI) released by US-based International Food Policy and Research Institute.
India is ranked 65th out of 79 countries in GHI, behind China at 2nd place, Pakistan at 57 and Sri Lanka at 37.
"India has lagged behind in improving its Global Hunger Index (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 about the 1996 level," International Food Policy and Research Institute (IFPRI) said in the latest report.
This stagnation in GHI scores occurred during a period when India's gross national income (GNI) per capita almost doubled, rising from about 1,460 to 2,850 constant 2005 international dollars between 1995-97 and 2008-10, it said.
When comparing GHI scores with GNI per capita, it must be emphasised that India's latest GHI score is based partly on outdated data, it added.
The report said that given that India has failed to monitor national trends in child undernutrition for more than six years, any recent progress in the fight against child undernutrition cannot be taken into account by the 2012 GHI.
"Nonetheless, even bearing in mind that possible recent advances in the fight against child undernutrition are not yet visible in the latest GHI, India's track record is disappointing," it observed and said generally, higher incomes are associated with less hunger.
The 2012 Global Hunger Index, published jointly by IFPRI, Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe, shows the progress made in reducing the proportion of hungry people in the world.
The report further said that 43.5 percent of children under five are underweight in India, which accounts for almost two-thirds of the country's 'alarmingly high' GHI score.
Although India is taking steps to improve food security and nutrition in past years and operates several schemes, "poor design, low coverage, and insufficient monitoring are continual challenges. In the absence of up-to-date information on nutrition outcomes, program effectiveness remains uncertain," it said.
Home to the majority of the world's undernourished children, India is in 'dire' need of monitoring systems for child undernutrition and related indicators that produce data at regular intervals, in order to improve program performance and scale up impact, the report said.
Stating that South Asia is the other region that continues to suffer from the highest levels of hunger, the report said: "Hunger is inextricably linked to growing pressure on land, water, and energy resources."