A+| A| A-

India’s Hunger Pangs

The NDA government’s record in controlling hunger is dismal despite rising stocks of cereal.


The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020, which ranks India 94 among 107 nations, has once again brought to the fore the government’s failure to provide adequate food to a substantial segment of the population despite rising stocks of cereals. The GHI—which captures three dimensions of hunger, including undernourishment of the people, child undernutrition and child mortality—uses four indicators, namely the share of people with insufficient calorie intake, share of children below five years with low weight to height ratio (wasting) and low height for age ratio (stunting), and child mortality rates to measure hunger. What makes India’s low GHI ranking especially rankling is that it is lower than that of its neighbours like Pakistan (ranked 88), Myanmar (ranked 78), Bangladesh (ranked 75), Nepal (ranked 73) and Sri Lanka (ranked 64). And India’s GHI score of 27.2 is far behind that of the top-ranked 17 nations, all scoring below five, including those of Bric countries like Brazil and China, ranked third and fifth.

Most trends in GHI scores show that the gap between India and its neighbours is increasing in many cases. For instance, the GHI reports for 2000 and 2020 show that India’s GHI score has improved by 0.1% to 27.2, while that of Pakistan has improved by 33.9% to 24.6, and that of Bangladesh by 40.2% to 20.4. And these trends are especially galling for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government as the improvements in India’s GHI scores have decelerated sharply during its tenure. The data shows India’s GHI score improved by 8.2 points, that is, by 21.9%, in the period under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule, while the improvements decelerated sharply by 2.1 points or by 7.2% under the NDA government.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Updated On : 28th Oct, 2020


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Using ordinance to protect freedom of expression from foul speech may result in damaging decent communication.

Only an empowered regulator can help boost production and cut coal imports.

Biden’s policy of the “return to the normal” would be inadequate to decisively defeat Trumpism.

*/ */

Only a generous award by the Fifteenth Finance Commission can restore fiscal balance.

*/ */

The assessment of the new military alliance should be informed by its implications for Indian armed forces.

The fiscal stimulus is too little to have any major impact on the economy.

The new alliance is reconfigured around the prospect of democratic politics, but its realisation may face challenges.

A damning critique does not allow India to remain self-complacent on the economic and health fronts.


The dignity of public institutions depends on the practice of constitutional ideals.

Caste complacency of the ruling combination necessarily deflects attention from critical self-evaluation.

Back to Top