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Global Hunger Index 2008: India lags way behind
Global Hunger Index shows developing countries making poor progress in reduction of hunger and child mortality. The sub-Saharan nations are worst affected with DRC having highest rate of hunger followed by Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Liberia
WHILE THE international community is boggled by the global financial downturn, triggered by the US sub-prime crisis, another global crisis is seemingly being brushed aside as a typical problem pertaining to the poor countries – the problem of hunger. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in collaboration with German Agro-Action and Concern Worldwide has released the Global Hunger Index 2008 that shows most countries making a slow progress to cut down hunger and reduction of child mortality rate.

As part of the Millennium Development Goal, signed by leaders from 189 countries in September, 2000, the international community has set targets to cut hunger by half and under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015. However, given the current slow level of progress in the developing world coupled with the current global inflation and financial crisis, the possibility of reaching the Millennium Development Goal by 2015 appears bleak.

The Global Hunger Index is made according to three indicators – the proportion of people who are calorie deficient, child malnutrition and child mortality. The countries in the Latin American and Caribbean and East Asia and Pacific regions have, however, made significant progress on this front while the Sub-Saharan African countries are worst affected by malnutrition and child mortality. Thirty-eight out of the 42 Sub-Saharan countries rank, show dismal progress with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) being the country with the highest rate of hunger followed by Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Liberia. Despite the overall gloomy picture of the African continent, Mozambique, Ghana and Malawi have made considerable progress in reducing hunger.

India, ranked 66 among 88 countries, shows that despite of economic growth, the hunger scenario of the country is worse than about 25 Sub-Saharan nations and worst among all countries of Asia, with only Bangladesh lagging behind it. Madhya Pradesh is the hungriest state in the country followed by Jharkhand and Bihar. According to the Global Hunger Index 2008, over 200 million Indians are unsure about accessing their daily bread. However, IFPRI reports that India has made notable progress in reducing hunger and child mortality and is very close on being on the track to reach the 2015 development goal target.

The slow progress in resolving the hunger crisis has been attributed to high population growth followed by slow income growth, high energy and bio-fuel prices followed by drastic change in science and technology, climate change, globalisation and urbanisation bringing changes in the pattern of food consumption, production and market. The current global financial crisis will further complicate the hunger scenario in the future by causing shortage of availability of capital for agriculture and related activities, resulting in further food shortage.

According to estimates, to reach the 2015 development goal, investment to the tune of $14 billion will be required annually. The Sub-Saharan countries will require $5 billion to be pumped into their economy annually. A complete restructuring of the methods of productivity and research, nutrition and social protection and market and trade could help in feeding millions of hungry mouths worldwide.

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Ramesh Manghirmalani
shame on India
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