India today termed the latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) report as an “erroneous measure of hunger” and claimed that it “suffers from serious methodological issues”, after India’s ranking slipped to the 107th position out of 121 countries in 2022.
A Press note issued by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development said: “Three out of the four indicators used for calculation of the index are related to health of children and cannot be representative of the entire population.”
It further stated: “The fourth and most important indicator estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3,000. The report is not only disconnected from ground reality, but also chooses to deliberately ignore efforts made by the government to ensure food security for the population, especially during the Covid pandemic.”
India was ranked 101st in the 2021 rankings. Its current 107th position places it behind neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Seventeen countries, including China, Turkey, and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI score of less than five, the GHI website that tracks hunger and malnutrition said on Saturday.
The ministry’s statement further said: “Taking a one-dimensional view, the report lowers India’s rank based on the estimate of Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population for India at 16.3%.”
The statement said: “The matter was taken up with FAO [Food and Agricultural Organisation] not to use such estimates based on FIES [Food Insecurity Experience Scale] survey module data in July 2022, as the statistical output of the same will not be based on merit. Though an assurance was forthcoming that there will be further engagement on this issue, the publication of the Global Hunger Index report irrespective of such factual considerations is regrettable.”
The note from the Ministry of Women and Child Development raised serious doubts about some of the questions asked by the surveyors to respondents in India. It said: “Some of the questions asked to the respondents are: ‘During the last 12 months, was there a time when, because of lack of money or other resources, you were worried you would not have enough food to eat? You ate less than you thought you should?'”
The ministry said: “It is evident such questions do not search for facts based on relevant information about the delivery of nutritional support and assurance of food security.”
The ministry further said that calculating hunger based on mainly indicators relating to health indicators of children is “neither scientific nor rational”.