India’s Slip on Global Hunger Index

India’s Slip on Global Hunger Index

After witnessing an improvement from 2008 to 2014, India’s rank on Global Hunger Index slipped in 2016. This slip is attributed to reformulation of GHI to encompass the multidimensional character of malnutrition, wherein underweight was replaced by stunting and wasting. While GHI scores of several other countries witnessed a decline, India fared worse. This is explained through a stickiness in child stunting levels in India attributed to gendered norms, poor sanitation, and high regional concentration.

After witnessing an improvement from 2008 to 2014, India’s rank on Global Hunger Index slipped in 2016. This slip is attributed to reformulation of GHI to encompass the multidimensional character of malnutrition, wherein underweight was replaced by stunting and wasting. While GHI scores of several other countries witnessed a decline, India fared worse. This is explained through a stickiness in child stunting levels in India attributed to gendered norms, poor sanitation, and high regional concentration.
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2016 reinstates India’s abysmal status on malnutrition. India ranks 97 out of 118 countries on GHI 2016, indicating serious levels of nutritional deprivation among its children. There has been a slip in India’s rank with respect to GHI 2014 as well as GHI 2008 that were at 55 and 66 (out of 120 countries) respectively. This slip in India’s ranking corresponds to GHI scores of 23.7, 17.8, and 28.5 in 2008, 2014, and 2016, respectively. Does it imply that the incidence of hunger in India that went down from 2008 to 2014 has further resurged between 2014 and 2016? It might not necessarily be so, although it does indicate the “stickiness” in certain types or forms of malnutrition in the country.

Reformulation of GHI

The central reason for this slip is the reformulation of GHI starting 2015, in which India’s score was 29. In 2015, the formula for calculation of GHI score was expanded to encompass the multidimensional character of malnutrition and the indicator of the underweight among children was replaced by those of the stunted and the wasted among the children. As a result, the GHI scores of several countries, including India, have deteriorated. This is corroborated from Table 1, where the GHI scores of several countries of the global South have deteriorated in Global Nutrition Report 2016, wherein Brazil is the exception, while for China the deterioration is not significant.

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