Skip to main content

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.
The FAO today plays a pivotal role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) mandate- ‘to leave no one behind.’ ‘World Food Day’ therefore also serves as a reminder of the necessity of this organization and helps to make the world aware of the requirement for better agriculture policies to be adopted and executed by governments all over the globe to make sure there is enough food available for everyone.
Above all, ‘World Food Day’ brings to attention the terrible plight of millions of people everywhere who are struggling with hunger and do not have adequate food to survive. Starvation is a global crisis that needs to be addressed and tackled before it is too late. Sadly enough, we live in a world of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’; the former, indulge in the finest of delicacies without any thoughts for others and on the other hand, the latter, are those who are desperate for a little food for their survival. Mahatma Gandhi puts it strongly when he says, “our world has enough for everyone’s need but not for anyone’s greed!”
Recently, the annual ‘Global Hunger Index (GHI) was released. The GHI prepared jointly by Irish aid agency ‘Concern Worldwide’ and German organisation ‘Welt Hunger Hilfe’ is a universally accepted document on the reality of hunger all over the world. The introduction to the report states, “Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels
GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. The GHI is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a way to compare levels of hunger between countries and regions, and call attention to those areas of the world where hunger levels are highest and where the need for additional efforts to eliminate hunger is greatest”. 
The GHI score is calculated on four indicators: undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).
India has fared extremely badly in this latest report. The country has slipped to the 101st position among 116 countries in the GHI 2021 from its 2020 ranking (94). India is now placed behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. There are only fifteen other countries Papua New Guinea (102), Afghanistan (103), Nigeria (103), Congo (105), Mozambique (106), Sierra Leone (106), Timor-Leste (108), Haiti (109), Liberia (110), Madagascar (111), Democratic Republic of Congo (112), Chad (113), Central African Republic (114), Yemen (115) and Somalia (116) who have fared worse than India this year!
Obviously, the government is not pleased and has gone on a denial mode! In an official rebuttal, a spokesperson says that the report has been published ‘without due diligence.’ A pathetic response when the Government is unable to furnish any scientific empirical evidence to prove the contrary. A few days ago, the Prime Minister lambasted human rights defenders ‘for spoiling the name of the country’ vi-a-vis the human rights situation in India. 
The PM does not want to be truthful and acknowledge the non-negotiable fact that it is he and his ilk who denigrate the country and in a calculated manner destroy the fundamental rights of the ordinary citizens. The ‘right to food’ should have been sacrosanct and paramount importance should have been given to ensure that. Instead, the crony capitalist friends of the regime are becoming richer everyday to the growing impoverishment of India’s millions.
Government has gone on a denial mode. In an official rebuttal, a spokesperson says that the report has been published without due diligence
The nation-wide protest of farmers, which will soon complete one year, is a pointer of how those who provide us with our daily bread are being treated in the country! To build a more fair and equitable food systems, one must to listen to the voices of our farmers, to small-scale producers and rural communities.
Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the FAO, in his statement noted that ‘World Food Day’ finds the world at a critical moment; even before Covid-19, hundreds of millions of people worldwide were afflicted by hunger and that number has increased in the last year to 811 million. That's despite the world producing sufficient food to feed everyone; and that 14 percent of food is lost, and 17 percent is wasted.
Alarming statistics indeed!
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General in his address says, “the way we produce, consume and waste food is taking a heavy toll on our planet. It is putting historic pressure on our natural resources, climate and natural environment -- and costing us trillions of dollars a year; but the power to change is in our hands.”
In a pointed message to Qu Dongyu, Pope Francis says “The annual celebration of World Food Day brings us face to face with one of humanity's greatest challenges: overcoming hunger once and for all is an ambitious goal.” He points to a paradox with regard to food access, noting that while more than three billion people do not have access to a nutritious diet, almost two billion are overweight due to poor diets and a sedentary life style. Stressing the need for all to play a role he says, “If we do not want to jeopardize the health of our planet and our entire population, we must encourage active participation in change at all levels and reorganize food systems as a whole.”
Pope Francis highlights four areas in particular where urgent action is needed: in the field, at sea, at the table, and in reducing food loss and waste. He says, “Although individual lifestyle choices and daily consumption practices influence global and environmental dynamics, we must encourage producers and consumers to make ethical and sustainable choices and raise awareness among the younger generations of the important role they play in making a world without hunger a reality.”
Whether anyone is listening to these world leaders and will actually pay heed to what they are saying – is anyone’s guess! In the meantime, given our hypocritical religiosity and flair to abuse God by dividing people in his/her name, let us at least take cognizance of the words of Mahatma Gandhi “God comes to the hungry in the form of food!” and help make their prayer “Give us today our daily food…” a reality!
---
*Human rights, reconciliation and peace activist/writer

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”