Union Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala, in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, questioned the methodology and data accuracy of the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report, which has placed India at 94th (out of 107 countries) rank in 2020.
Mr. Rupala claimed that children considered healthy were also counted to determine the ranking.
The Minister said that the government had written to NGO Welthungerhilfe, which compiles the report, expressing concerns about their methodology, data accuracy and sample size and was yet to hear from them.
Mr. Rupala was responding to a question by the Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, who pointed out that the Minister’s written reply showed that India’s ranking had improved from 102 in 2019 to 94 in 2020.
Mr. Singh sought to know why India was ranked below countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, when it was among top 10 food-producing countries in the world.
Mr. Rupala said, “Some NGO in the world has done the survey. We have asked them on what basis have you reached this conclusion? They have not replied yet. Whenever a street dog gives birth in our village, even though it bites, our women provide them with sheera (sweet dish). So, in a country where such a tradition exists, and an NGO comes and releases such a report about our children, we should not be sensitive to such reports. As far as these surveys are concerned, even healthy and strong children are counted... there should be awareness in society, our dynamic minister Smriti [Irani] ji has started a jan andolan, and 13 crore events have been done.”
In a written reply, the Ministry stated that according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4, the percentage of wasted, stunted and malnourished children in 2015-16 stood at 21, 38.4 and 35.7, respectively.
It said that compared to NFHS-4 data, the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) compiled in 2017-18 showed an improvement of 4%, 3.7% and 2.3% in wasted, stunted and malnourished children respectively.
The first-ever CNNS was commissioned by the government in 2016 and was conducted from 2016-18, led by the Union Health Ministry, in collaboration with the UNICEF. The findings were published in 2019. CNNS includes only nutrition data, whereas NFHS encompasses overall health indicators.
Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that 10 lakh children were malnourished in the country.
According to the GHI website, the data for the indicators come from United Nations and other multilateral agencies, including the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.
GHI is a peer-reviewed annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide, an Ireland-based humanitarian group, and Welthungerhilfe, a Germany-based NGO, designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels. It says the aim of publishing the report is to trigger action to reduce hunger around the world.