ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Politics of Child Undernutrition Data in India

“Hunger” is indeed a sensational term. It causes a stir among politicians, policymakers, journalists and all concerned. Unsurprisingly, India’s poor rank in terms of the Global Hunger Index (GHI) becomes a major talking point with the release of the country report cards every year.

Food Insecurity among Students in India

There has been increased attention to food insecurity in India and globally since the 1990s. However, the food insecurity experienced by university students has not been widely discussed. We examine the scale and depth of the problem of student food insecurity and outline four key considerations that will need to be borne in mind in policy efforts to address the issue. Future work on this problem should be comparative, engaged with policy, informed by its complexity, and attuned to the significance of young people’s agency.

Global Hunger Index 2022

At first, the arguments put forward by the government to question India’s GHI 2022 ranking appear technically valid. However, being founded on narrow conceptual considerations, they are insufficient to defend India’s position. While India’s GHI ranking is affected also by the performance of other countries, the GHI score shows consistent deterioration since 2015, except in 2020. A preliminary assessment of data indicates that India’s GHI ranking should not be seen in isolation and instead is likely a manifestation of absolute increase in urban hunger.

COVID-19 as an Opportunity to Engage with Urban Malnutrition Challenge: Preliminary Insights from India

As the world is urbanising fast, a growing body of literature highlights malnutrition as an imminent urban challenge, further compounded by the outbreak of COVID-19. The nutrition policy discourse, however, is yet to accommodate this shift. In fact, it continues to exhibit a rural bias. This itself has partly been reinforced by the absence of authoritative evidence on urban malnutrition. Based on preliminary analysis of Indian data, this paper examines whether there is urbanisation of child malnutrition. The paper finds that urban India is witnessing a decline in nutrition advantage. While for less urbanised states, urban child stunting is relatively higher, in more urbanised states, urban child wasting is a challenge. Given that wasting is an indicator of acute malnutrition, it is partly attributable to lack of adequate food. Though it might be early to connect this to a looming hunger crisis, growing child wasting questions the claims of food security in urban India. Seeing this further in context of implications of COVID-19 provides a potential basis for broadening of the nutrition policy agenda.

Traversing the Field of Development Studies

Reclaiming Development Studies: Essays for Ashwani Saith edited by Murat Arsel,Anirban Dasgupta and Servaas Storm, London and New York: Anthem Press, 2021; pp 300, $40.

A Methodological Rectification in the Global Hunger Index

The article proposes a methodological correction to the original Global Hunger Index to improve its validity as a tool to measure hunger in a country. Normalising the variables using their range instead of historic peaks as in the original GHI would help eliminate some of the measurement bias from the ranking procedure and make the ranking more justifi able to the present-day data. 

Household Consumption Expenditure Inequality in Rural India (1993–94 to 2011–12)

The comparative role of determinants of household-level consumption expenditure inequalities (henceforth, inequalities) in rural India between two sub-periods, 1994–2005 and 2005–12 are examined, using three rounds of the National Sample Survey Consumer Expenditure Survey. The changes in the components of consumption expenditure and population characteristics are explored that explain inequalities during the two sub-periods, which represent distinct policy environments. We use both a priori and regression-based decomposition methods for the analysis. We find that there is a complete reversal of the role of education in explaining inequalities. It shifted from being an inequality-increasing factor during 1994–2005 to an inequality-equalising factor during 2005–12. This reversal is induced by decreasing consumption returns to education due to the depressed job market. The role of locational factors has increased in explaining the increase in inequalities over time. The non-food components induce an increase in the overall inequalities via an increased expenditure on durables. The within-group component contributes the most to the level of and change in inequalities.

Determinants and Dynamics of Food Insecurity during COVID-19 in Rural Eastern India

Using comprehensive telephone survey data from 2,599 households, the paper estimates the status of food insecurity using the food insecurity experience scale in rural households in eastern India. The results indicate that households belonging to lower social strata with less land and fewer years of education are more likely to suffer from food insecurity.


An Assessment of the Nutritional Status of India’s Rural Labour since the Early 1980s

India has been on a rising path of economic development since independence, but it is still predominantly rural where 70% of population lives. This paper attempts to analyse changes in living standards of the rural poor, basically rural labour, in terms of nutritional level since the 1980s at all-India and state levels so that correct policy measures may be initiated to improve their lives. By using data from the National Sample Survey Office, it is found that there is, in general, an improvement in nutritional levels of rural labour in India since the 1980s. However, for rural India, the findings of reinforce some of the results of the previous literature. However, recent thick rounds of the National Sample Survey show some improvement in their nutritional level, which is a positive sign.

The Hunger Conundrum

India has to accelerate efforts to improve the nutrition levels of the population.


Ways to Tackle Hunger during COVID-19

COVID-19 has not only caused deaths but has also exacerbated hunger and starvation due to nationwide lockdowns in the country that have led to a massive breakdown in the supply chain networks. These tough times are no less than a “wake-up call” for India to devise a permanent supply chain solution that ensures an uninterrupted supply of food and nutrition as well as timely healthcare and employment for its population.



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