Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: Food and Agriculture Organization
Mains level: Issues related poverty and hunger
• India, with a population of over 1.3 billion, has seen tremendous growth in the past two decades. Gross Domestic Product has increased 4.5 times and per capita consumption has increased 3 times. Similarly, food grain production has increased almost 2 times.
• However, despite phenomenal industrial and economic growth and while India produces sufficient food to feed its population, according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates in The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020 report, 189.2 million people, that is 14% of the population, are undernourished in India.
• The problem of hunger is complex, and different terms are used to describe its various forms.
• Hunger is usually understood to refer to the distress associated with a lack of sufficient calories.
• Undernutrition goes beyond calories and signifies deficiencies in any or all of the following: energy, protein, and/or essential vitamins and minerals. Undernutrition is the result of inadequate intake of food in terms of either quantity or quality, poor utilisation of nutrients due to infections or other illnesses, or a combination of these factors. These, in turn, are caused by a range of factors, including household food insecurity; inadequate maternal health or childcare practices; or inadequate access to health services, safe water, and sanitation.
• Malnutrition refers more broadly to both undernutrition (problems caused by deficiencies) and overnutrition (problems caused by unbalanced diets, such as consuming too many calories in relation to requirements with or without low intake of micronutrient-rich foods).
Computation of Gross Hunger Index (GHI):
• Gross Hunger Index scores are calculated using a three-step process that draws on available data from various sources to capture the multidimensional nature of hunger.
• First, for each country, values are determined for three dimensions —inadequate food supply, child undernutrition and child mortality rate with indicators of undernourishment for the first dimension, wasting and shunting for the second dimension and under 5 mortality rate for the third dimension, as indicated below.
1. Undernourishment: the share of the population that is under-nourished (PUN).
2. Child Wasting: the share of children five who are wasted (CWA).
3. Child Stunting: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (CST).
4. Child Mortality: the mortality rate of children under, the age of five (CM).
• Second, each of the four component indicators is given a standardised score on a 100-point scale based on the highest observed level for the indicator on a global scale in recent decades.
• Third, standardised scores are aggregated to calculate the GHI score for each country, with each of the three dimensions given equal weight.
SDG India Index and Dashboard 2019-20:
• The NITI Aayog has brought out SDG India Index and Dashboard 2019-20 which measure the progress achieved and distance to be covered by the States/UTs in their journey towards meeting the targets, using the SDG India Index, covering 16 out of 17 SDGs. Two of the most important SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) having a bearing on poverty, hunger and nutrition are:
1. SDG 1. No Poverty
2. SDG 2. Zero Hunger
• SDG 2. Zero Hunger – To measure India’s performance towards the Goal of Zero Hunger, seven national-level indicators have been identified, which capture three out of the eight SDG targets for 2030 outlined under this Goal.
The indicators of SDG 2 taken are:
1. Ratio of rural households covered under public distribution system (PDS) to rural households where monthly income of highest earning member is less than Rs. 5,000.
2. Percentage of children under age 5 years who are stunted.
3. Percentage of pregnant women aged 15-49 years who are anaemic.
4. Percentage of children aged 6-59 months who are anaemic (Hb<11.0 g/dl).
5. Percentage of children aged 0-4 years who are underweight.
6. Rice, wheat and coarse cereals produced annually per unit area (Kg/Ha).
7. Gross Value Added in Agriculture per worker.
• India still faces a long road ahead in its quest to achieve Zero Hunger. Over 25 years since India ushered in its economic reforms, the country’s economy has undergone significant structural transformations, encouraging Planners to torn their focus away from agriculture and instead towards the service and manufacturing sectors.
• The priority now is to return attention to agriculture and its central role of providing food security, reducing poverty and generating employment. India’s likely to be the most populous country on this plane! by 2030 with 1.6 billion people. Ensuring food and nutrition security will become a bigger challenge unless Government of India and the State Governments, particularly of the more populous States, pursue in right earnest population stabilisation programmes.