India tops world hunger chart
Despite consistent economic growth over last many years, India is failing to provide proper food to its malnourished population. India's 230 million rural people are undernourished. This is the highest for any country in the world. These startling fact have come out in a latest studies by the United Nations World Food Programme. The report slammed much hyped government public distribution system.
The UN report also criticized Indian government's definitions of hunger and poverty.
According to the latest report on the state of food insecurity in rural India, more than 1.5 million children are at risk of becoming malnourished because of rising global food prices.
The report said that while general inflation declined from a 13-year high exceeding 12% in July 2008 to less than 5% by the end of January 2009, the inflation for food articles doubled from 5% to over 11% during the same period.
Foodgrain harvest during 2008-09 is estimated to be a record 228 million tonnes. However, the requirement for the national population would exceed 250 million tonnes by 2015.
India ranks 94th in the Global Hunger
Index of 119 countries, the report said.
Brought out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the report points to some staggering figures. More than 27% of the world's undernourished population lives in India while 43% of children (under 5 years) in the country are underweight. The figure is among the highest in the world and is much higher than the global average of 25% and also higher than sub-Saharan Africa's figure of 28%.
More than 70% of children (under-5) suffer from anaemia and 80% of them don't get vitamin supplements. According to the report, the proportion of anaemic children has actually increased by 6% in the past six years with 11 out of 19 states having more than 80% of its children suffering from anaemia.
Percentage of women with chronic energy deficiency is stagnant at 40% over six years with the proportion in fact increasing in Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana during the same period.
The report said that the ambitious Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) was failing. "Apart from failing to serve the intended goal of reduction of food subsidies, the TPDS also led to greater food insecurity for large sections of the poor and the near-poor. These targeting errors arise due to imperfect information, inexact measurement of household characteristics, corruption and inefficiency," the report said.
It added, "Another problem of the TPDS was the issue of quantity of grain that a household would be entitled to. The TPDS initially restricted the allotments to BPL households to 10 kg per month. For a family of five, this amounts to 2 kg per capita. Using the ICMR recommended norm of 330 grams per day, the requirement per person per month would be 11 kg and that for a family of five would be 55 kg."