India below China, Pak in global hunger index

India has been ranked 67, way below neighbouring countries like China and Pakistan, in a new global hunger index by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

New Delhi: India has been ranked 67, way
below neighbouring countries like China and Pakistan, in a new
global hunger index by the International Food Policy Research

The index, released today, rated 84 countries on the
basis of three leading indicators -- prevalence of child
malnutrition, rate of child mortality, and the proportion of
people who are calorie deficient.

China is rated much ahead of India at the ninth place,
while Pakistan is at the 52nd place on the 2010 Global Hunger
Index, released by the International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI) in association with a German group Concern
Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

In India, the high Index scores are driven by high levels
of child underweight resulting from the low nutritional and
social status of women in the country, the report pointed out,
adding that India alone accounts for a large share of the
world’s undernourished children, the IFPRI report said.

India is home to 42 per cent of the world`s underweight
children, while Pakistan has just 5 per cent, it added.

Among other neighbouring countries, Sri Lanka was at the
39th position and Nepal ranked 56 by index. Bangladesh listed
at the 68th position.

"The economic performance and hunger levels are inversely
correlated. In South and Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India,
Pakistan and Timor-Leste are among countries with hunger
levels considerably higher than their gross national income
(GNI) per capita," the IFPRI report said.

"Undernutrition in the first two years of life threatens
a child`s life and can jeopardise physical, motor and
cognitive development. It is therefore of particular
importance that we take concerted action to combat hunger,
especially among young children," the report stressed.

It further said that the global food security is under
stress. Although the world`s leaders, through the first
Millennium Development Goal, adopted a goal of halving the
proportion of hungry people between 1990 and 2015, "we are
nowhere near meeting that target."

"The 2010 world Global Hunger Index (GHI) shows some
improvement over the 1990 world GHI, falling from 19.8 points
to 15.1 or by almost one-quarter. The index for hunger in the
world, however, remains serious," it noted.

In recent years, however, the number of hungry people has
actually been increasing. In 2009, on the heels of a global
food price crisis and in the midst of worldwide recession, the
number of undernourished peopled surpassed one billion,
although recent estimates by the UN body Food and Agriculture
Organisation suggest that the number will have dropped to 925
million in 2010, it added.

The report said that South Asian countries, along with
Sub-Saharan Africa, still suffered from high levels of hunger.

The major problem in the South Asian region was a high
prevalence of underweight in children under five, resulting
largely from the lower nutritional and educational status of
women, poor nutrition and health programmes, and inadequate water and sanitation services, it said.
"In contrast, in Sub Saharan Africa, low government
effectiveness, conflict, political instability and high rates
of HIV/AIDS are among the major factors that lead to high
child mortality and high proportion of people who cannot meet
their calorie requirements," the report highlighted.

In order to tackle early childhood under nutrition, the
IFPRI recommended high-priority policy actions including
targeting nutrition interventions for women and children in
the window of opportunity, foster gender equity and prioritise
nutrition in political and policy processes.
This is the fifth year that IFPRI has calculated the
global hunger index and analysed the multidimensional measure
of global hunger. The report drew attention to the countries
and regions where action is most needed.