Wednesday, October 13, 2010

India Tops World Hunger Chart in 2010

In a week that saw India put on the Commonwealth Games extravaganza costing $7.5 billion, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) released its World Hunger Index 2010 report calling India's hunger situation "alarming", and including it with 29 other mostly sub-Saharan African nations.

India ranks 67, far worse than Pakistan's ranking of 52 among 84 nations on the world hunger index 2010 report published recently, according to a Times of India report.

On a scale ranging from low level hunger to extremely alarming, the hunger situation in Sri Lanka and Pakistan is rated as serious, and the rest of South Asia, including India, the situation is considered alarming.

The global hunger index score, published annually by the International Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI), is a number between zero and 100, with lower figure signifying less hunger.

Poverty in Pakistan decreased from about 34% to 17% and hunger went down with it during Musharraf years from 2000 to 2008, as reported by World Bank and IFPRI as lagging indicators. The global hunger index score, published annually by the International Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI), is a number between zero and 100, with lower figure signifying less hunger.

While Pakistan's hunger index score improved over the last three year since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking rose from 61 to 58 to 52, India's index score worsened from 23.7 to 23.9 to 24.1 and its ranking moved from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 84 nations. Given the lag in reporting, the GHI scores represent data from 2003 to 2008.

At 22.67% improvement in its hunger score since 1990, Pakistan has improved less than India's 23.97% reduction, explained by little or no progress in Pakistan during the lost decade of the 1990s under Bhutto and Sharif governments.

At 9th place, China is ranked well ahead of all South Asian nations, while Pakistan is at the 52nd place on the 2010 Global Hunger Index, released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in association with a German group Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

In India, the high Index scores are driven by high levels of child underweight resulting from the low nutritional and social status of women in the country, the report pointed out, adding that India alone accounts for the largest share of the world's undernourished children, the IFPRI report said.

India is home to 42% of the world's underweight children, while Pakistan has just 5%, it added.

Among other neighboring countries, Sri Lanka was at the 39th position and Nepal ranked 56 by index. Bangladesh listed at the 68th position.

After 63 years of independence, it is very unfortunate that economically resurgent India still remains home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterate people. Tragically, hunger remains India's biggest problem, with an estimated 7000 Indians dying of hunger every single day. Over 200 million Indians will go to bed hungry tonight, as they do every night, according to Bhookh.com. Along with chronic hunger, deep poverty and high illiteracy also continue to blight the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians on a daily basis.

As the largest nation in the region, it is time for Indian leadership to take necessary actions to lead South Asia by example in reducing poverty, hunger and illiteracy toward achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India Ranks Below China, Pakistan in Global Hunger Index

Low Status of Indian Women

India's Commonwealth Games Mess

Disaster Dampens Spirits on Pakistan's 63rd Independence Day

UNESCO Education For All Report 2010

India's Arms Build-up: Guns Versus Bread

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

World Hunger Index 2009

Challenges of 2010-2020 in South Asia

India and Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Introduction to Defense Economics

38 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

I have received some abusive, hateful and bigoted comments blaming India's problems of hunger and poverty on Indian Muslims' supposedly high birth rates and larger family sizes. I have decided not to publish such hateful, abusive and misleading comments.

I see these commentators as mendacious apologists for India's massive failures in meeting the very basic needs of its citizens.

Here's a 2006 excerpt from Calcutta Telegraph that debunks the myth of high Indian Muslim birth rates promoted by your ilk in India:

New Delhi, Dec. 3: Narendra Modi should take note. The Sachar committee debunks the myth that Muslims have more children than other communities.

“Strictly speaking, there is no ‘Muslim fertility’ as such in the sense that Muslims in general cannot be identified as having a particular level of fertility,” says the panel’s report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

Muslims have a low fertility rate in states with low fertility rates. “Muslims in southern states have lower fertility than in northern and central states,” says the committee, tasked to find out Indian Muslims’ status in all spheres of life and activity.

A myth within the myth has been that Muslims have more children because they marry early. “Data, however, show that Muslims do not have a lower age at marriage than the average,” Sachar says.

The report asserts that over a third of Muslim couples do use some form of contraception. “Data in the National Family Health Survey show the use of contraception is widely prevalent among Muslims, though to a lesser degree than the average.”

The bogey of Muslims’ “higher” fertility — and the demographic “threat” it poses to Hindus — has held sway for decades. Modi, Gujarat’s Muslim-baiting BJP chief minister, had played on this fear a few years ago with his mock slogan “hum paanch, hamara pachis (the five of us and our 25 children)”.

Anonymous said...

“Strictly speaking, there is no ‘Muslim fertility’ as such in the sense that Muslims in general cannot be identified as having a particular level of fertility,”

Strictly speaking Muslims have a higher fertility rate than the immediate local population of that particular state.

Yes a keralite muslim has a lower fertility rate than a bihari hindu BUT a keralite muslim has a greater fertility rate than a keralite hindu/christian and a bihari muslim has a higher fertility rate than a bihari hindu.

This in addition to the FACT that a much greater proportion of muslims live in BAckward parts of the country like UP/Bihar than non muslims is the reason why muslims have gone from 8% to 14% of India's population.

So yes overall muslim birth rates are significantly higher than the Indian average.This has not been expicitly denied by the Sanchar commitee report.

Anonymous said...

India is home to 42% of the world's underweight children, while Pakistan has just 5%, it added.

Riaz PAkistan is roughly 1/7 the population of India so by scaling things to proportion the comparable percentages is 35% and 42%.Still worse in India but not by much so lets leave this just 5% vs 42% thing out because by that account Pakistan also does better than China.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "why muslims have gone from 8% to 14% of India's population."

This is false propaganda of the Hindutva against Muslims.

The census surveys by religion totally negate this propaganda. Religion is one of the markers used in these surveys. As per 1971 survey Hindus constituted 82.7% and Muslims 11.2% of the population. The corresponding figures for 1991 census are Hindus 82.6% and Muslims 11.4%. (Malayalam Manorama, 1992).

http://saif_w.tripod.com/current/hindutva/facts_of_indian_muslim_minorities.htm

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Still worse in India but not by much so lets leave this just 5% vs 42% thing out because by that account Pakistan also does better than China."

In 2008, Indian Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed acknowledged that India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement.

Speaking at a conference on "Malnutrition an emergency: what it costs the nation", she said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during interactions with the Planning Commission has described malnourishment as the "blackest mark".

"I should not compare. But countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better," she said. The conference was organized last year by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.

According to India's Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the last seven years. This is only a shade better than Sub-Saharan Africa where about 35 percent of children are malnourished.

India has recently been described as a "nutritional weakling" by a British report.

Rahul said...

Here he goes again. Why don't you do something better for your Failed State, rather than going on rampating about India. Whats the purpose of your blog? It is only increasing the hate between the two countries. Your blogs are just a charecteristic, that inspite of your age you still live like a child.

Anonymous said...

Before I start, I should tell I am from India -

"After 63 years of independence, it is very unfortunate that economically resurgent India still remains home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterate people."

I totally agree with Riaz. it is Indeed unforunate. however silver lining is that our government is working in this direction and I have complete faith in this government and political system overall that we will only improve from here.

it is unfortunate to know you received abusive responses. to the folks sending abusive response - "please do not shoot the messenger".

nikhil said...

how does india 'top' when its 67th out of 84?

anyway, its good to see ur india envy alive and well

Riaz Haq said...

Commonwealth Games 2010 ended today in New Delhi, India.

Representing the host nation, Indian athletes performed very well, ending up second on the medals table with 101 medals, including 38 golds, beating England to win the second place with just one more gold medal than England's 37 golds.

As expected, Australia topped the medals table with 177 medals, including 74 golds, down significantly from 221 medals they won in 2006, according to the BBC.

India doubled their medal count to 101 this year from 50 medals in 2006.

England also made gains, winning 142 medals this year, up from 110 in 2006.

Pakistan ranked 17th, on a list of 37 medal winning nations. Pakistan's medal count remained flat at 5, including 2 golds.

In terms of population per medal, Nauru (2 medals) topped the list with one medal per 5000 people.

India and Pakistan ended up near the bottom with one medal per 11 million and 33 million respectively.

Bangladesh was at the bottom with its one bronze medal for its entire population of 162 million people.

In terms of GDP, Nauru topped with 1 medal per $119 million.

India and Pakistan were near the bottom with $12 billion and $33 billion respectively.

Bangladesh was last with just one bronze for its entire GDP of $94 billion.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

@Riaz
"I have received some abusive, hateful and bigoted comments blaming India's problems of hunger and poverty on Indian Muslims' supposedly high birth rates and larger family sizes. I have decided not to publish such hateful, abusive and misleading comments. "

I am not surprised by this. During my trip to Rajasthan last year, my (Hindu) driver was desparate to tell me that all of those poor beggars in Delhi and Rajasthan are Muslims and Hindus are quite we off(not realizing that I know reasonably well about N.India). Let us forget his nonsense, but how can someone prove such a nonsense allegation like that with numbers - If Muslims(11% of 1.1 bill.) are 90% poor(utterly unrealistic, but let us assume for the sake of argument), that would make 109 mill. poor people. Even such a ludicrous assumption would lead someone to conclude that there are 353 mill. poor Hindus(about the entire population of USA) as country's overall poverty rate is around 42%!!!!!
Widespread corruption, unacceptably low spending on health and job creation and caste system are the culprits. But both population growth and poverty is generally blamed entirely on Muslims and they get the bulk of the day to day discrimination for this.

bikramshergill said...

Hi Mr.Haq,

Have you read the complete report? If not please take a look at the bibliography provided at the end of the report. Most of the data for this report is provided by small and independent NGO's. This report is in the same league with the failed state index. Do you agree with this report which says that Pakistan ranks only two places below Iraq and is a bigger failure than Haiti. Moreover, these kind of reports don't have enough resources to reach the reality. Can you explain to me a single reason why Pakistan whose economy has grown only by 2-3% in the last year and is governed by a dodgy government has curbed poverty by 3% as compared to India whose problems are much less drastic and controllable and has a burgeoning economy, has proved much less effective in curbing poverty.
Indian guv plans to spend $ 400 billion on infrastructure in the next two to three years. This will provide a lot of opportunities for the poor to earn. Has the Pakistani govt. have any such plans? Mr.Haq do you think people like Zardari who is the defacto leader of Pakistan think beyond filling their coffers. In case of India at least the future looks bright. Did you see the Opening Ceremony of the Cwg ? Did you see how Kalmadi got booed. I bet that wasn't possible anywhere other than India in the whole damn World. I am not say that India is "Shining" but it is rising slowly but surely from its deep slumber and nobody save the Naxals who are on a decline can stop it from taking its rightful place. India's power lies in its people and the private sector not in its government. I have saved all your blog posts. I hope that you keep your blog online till at least 2015. Then we will compare the progress both countries have made in five years. Do you honestly think that Pakistan has even an iota of ability to outperform India? I think it is not even a sane question.
Regards,
Bikram Shergill

Pavan said...

Thanks Riaz. Could be the IMR rate in India is under-reported? The
maternal mortality rate is certainly under-reported. The under five
mortality rate is one of the parameters for the hunger index. There
seems to be something wrong. Pavan

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan:

I think there is closer correlation between poverty and hunger than anything else.

Amartya Sen has repeatedly said that the affordability of food is a bigger problem than availability in poor nations.

Pavan said...

True. My own feeling about Pakistan being in a better state on this
issue is that more people care about the plight of the hungry and poor
so there are more feeding kitchens etc. May also have something to do
with Zakat? P

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan,

You are probably right about Islam's edicts about Zakat and Sadaqa, and even the big tax evaders do not cheat on these two religious injunctions as much as they cheat on taxes.

But still, I think Pakistan is not a lot better than India in terms of hunger.

Pavan said...

I entirely agree. I had done a small calculation. If 200 million
people have to be fed at about Rs 20 per day including provision of
clean drinking water then you need Rs 400 crore a day. That works out
to Rs 1,46,000 crores per annum or 2.5% of the GDP! There is no way
that this money can be produced unless we cut down drastically on all
infructuous expenditure including space probes, defence and
Commonwealth Games like events. Weneed to raise a similar amount to
invest in health. There is a very long way to go.

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan:

I often hear arguments to the effect that India can simply grow out of hunger and poverty. But I don't agree with it. I think ridding India of hunger and poverty will require proactive planning, deliberate execution and significant public expenditure.

Anonymous said...

'I often hear arguments to the effect that India can simply grow out of hunger and poverty.'

Riaz can you name be one country with a per capita income of around 5000USD(India's in 2025) that suffers from chronic hunger?

The fact is even with a gini coefficient of 50(v v high) the poorest Indian will have an income of USD 2000 so a family income of approx USD 10,000 in today's money.

Families which have incomes of USD 10,000 the world over simple don't suffer from malnutrition.

Anonymous said...

Getting hate replies is part of the process as you agree with subject of your posts and target audience.
Nothing across border looks appreciable to you (typical of you), your writings are not balanced. I would see CWG and poor people with different perspectives. India’s strength in completing the event (considering the pre-event goof-ups) says it all, well India is receiving appreciation from most the countries (well none of them criticized the way you did/do)
The poverty of India would take at least a decade more with an optimistic thinking (with current rate of growth, employment generation and education).
What India with CWG has done is showcased itself with organizing mammoth event (leaving cricket events far behind).
Coming years, India will host world cup cricket, F1 race probably some more events in sporting and entertainment.

Speaking about some statistics where India stands unique is taking up the challenge, even if it fails it would have learnt lessons.

Give some insights now, what it takes your country to host CWG ?
That will be more of positive thinking.

Pavan said...

Pavan,

Riaz, the problem is this. Most middle class Indians think that we are
an emerging economic super power. This is based on availability of new
and improved products and cars. And of course the stock market. The
problem is very vast and unless intelligent thinking people do not
pressurize the government, nothing will happen. The NGO sector can
only do so much. The problem is massive corruption, tax evasion and
wasteful expenditure. I am sure you face similar problems in Pakistan.
Unless we recognise the problem, not much can happen. Democracy in
India has not been an effective instrument to alleviate poverty. So we
have so many insurgencies and therefore increased security related
expenditure.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from an interesting commentary by Soutik Biswas of BBC:

Incidentally, many of India's sterling performances came from women, including badminton star Saina Nehwal, who picked up the badminton singles gold. Many of India's medal-winning women athletes came from the northern state of Haryana, which has some of the worst rates of female foeticide in the country. These girls can drive change in this benighted region better than the politicians.

That was not all. The once glorious field hockey team - undefeated in the Olympic Games between 1928 and 1956, winning six gold medals in succession - which has been on a comeback of sorts made it to the finals before being thrashed by Australia. (The team had returned empty handed from the three Commonwealth Games ever since hockey was introduced in 1998)

One hopes that India's apathetic sports officials will build on the success of its athletes and begin treating them better with more incentives, increased funding and improved infrastructure. The legacy of the Delhi games will depend on this alone. The expensive stadia and other state-of-the-art infrastructure could easily turn out to be white elephants, decaying away in neglect, if they are not used to showcase and train athletes regularly. Half of India's one billion population is under the age of 25. Can there be any other country in the world with such untapped sporting potential?

It is tempting to suggest that India's success at the games have happened despite the system - even after the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, sports has remained mired in politics, nepotism, provincialism and corruption. Governments don't appear to be interested in nurturing sports seriously by tapping talent at the grassroots and setting up academies. Will the Delhi games help in ushering in a new sports culture in India?

There's still a lot of catching up to do, as sports writer Suresh Menon points out. One sobering example: the 100m track record in India is 10.3 seconds, achieved in 2005. Canadian Percy Williams clocked that record in 1930. So India trails by 75 years in that event. Or take China. Since 1984, India has won three Olympic medals. China has won 420. India's athletes have shown a lot of promise at Delhi, but it's still a long way to the top. Will the authorities now wake up - and do their job?

Vivek said...


I often hear arguments to the effect that India can simply grow out of hunger and poverty. But I don't agree with it. I think ridding India of hunger and poverty will require proactive planning, deliberate execution and significant public expenditure.



Riaz,

All of the above is happening. The government has become far more proactive and if trends over the last two decades prove that the quality of governance in India is constantly improving. Poverty has consistently reduced in the country and the rate of progress on that front is gradually accelerating. Its not unreasonable to suggest that poverty level will halve and literacy rate will increase to 90% by 2020.

Vivek said...

Also majority of $7.5 billion spent was on infrastructure in the National Capital Region. That includes the Delhi Metro, new buses, roads, flyovers, etc.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

@Riaz
"You are probably right about Islam's edicts about Zakat and Sadaqa, and even the big tax evaders do not cheat on these two religious injunctions as much as they cheat on taxes."

In the Arab world report of The Economist, they mentioned Islamic emphasis on charity as a significant factor in lower poverty despite having lower education or no democracy. Unfortunately this egalitarian principle of Islam is not given enough emphasis among non Muslims. What is ridiculous is quite often some very wealthy Muslims in India use Zakat as a showoff and use it to gain influence in local communities and coverup quite a lot social crimes.

Riaz Haq said...

Vivek: "Poverty has consistently reduced in the country and the rate of progress on that front is gradually accelerating."

While Pakistan's hunger index score improved over last three year since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking rose from 61 to 58 to 52, India's index score worsened from 23.7 to 23.9 to 24.1 and it moved from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 84 nations.

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan,

I agree with your comments.

Both Pakistan and India have long way to go to reduce hunger.

At least in Pakistan's case the progress is very slow but the direction is right.

While Pakistan's hunger index score improved over the last three year since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking rose from 61 to 58 to 52, India's index score worsened from 23.7 to 23.9 to 24.1 and its ranking moved from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 84 nations.

Riaz Haq said...

Vivek: "Also majority of $7.5 billion spent was on infrastructure in the National Capital Region. That includes the Delhi Metro, new buses, roads, flyovers, etc."

Agreed.

Vivek said...

While Pakistan's hunger index score improved over last three year since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking rose from 61 to 58 to 52, India's index score worsened from 23.7 to 23.9 to 24.1 and it moved from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 84 nations.

I'm not sure how Pakistan's performance is relevant here... in any case here are the actual figures for poverty -

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/BPL_Data_GOI.png

The latest figure (2010 census) wouldn't be available for a little while, but what is inescapable is that the trend is overwhelmingly positive. And the performance in the 2000-2010 period is justifiably expected to thoroughly outstrip progress in earlier periods.

With regard to hunger, the problem is more to do with education than food supply. For example infants are commonly taken off mother's milk within a few weeks. That would explain why well-off regions like Gujarat are post poor figures. Thankfully the state and central administrations are aware of the issue and actively working to improve the situation. Given another decade or so, just the information campaigns run by the government will lead to considerable progress on that front, to say nothing of incentives.

Riaz Haq said...

Vivek: "I'm not sure how Pakistan's performance is relevant here... in any case here are the actual figures for poverty -

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/BPL_Data_GOI.png "

I know you are eager to defend India's record on hunger and poverty...but the references and data you offer are in sharp conflict with the recent data from various sources published by Oxford researchers on multi-dimensional poverty. The Oxford researchers argue that Indians are poorer in larger numbers than the poorest of the poor sub-Saharan Africans:

OPHI 2010 country briefings on India and Pakistan contain the following comparisons of multi-dimensional (MPI) and income poverty figures:

India
MPI= 55%,Under$1.25=42%,Under$2=76%,India_BPL=29%

Pakistan
MPI=51%,Under$1.25=23%,Under$2=60%,Pakistan_BPL=33%

Lesotho MPI=48%,Under$1.25=43%,Under$2=62%,Lesotho_BPL=68%

Haiti MPI=57%,Under$1.25=55%,Under@2=72%,Haiti_BPL=NA

China
MPI=12%,Under$1.25=16%,Under$2=36%,China_BPL=3%

Among other South Asian nations, MPI index measures poverty in Bangladesh at 58 per cent and 65 per cent in Nepal.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an India blogger Abhinav talking about "India's growth story" on hunger and starvation:

Today’s news on the death of fifty people from hunger at Balangir in Orissa is a grim reminder of the little growth story that India has had. It clearly indicates many negative facets of our system, bureaucracy and the public at large. As per the World Food Program, almost half of the world’s population who are deprived of food live in India. Another website of a well known NGO (http://www.bread.org/learn/hunger-basics/hunger-facts-international.html) offers a grim picture of this particular issue especially when the same is getting the least attention by the policy makers across the world. If 50% of the starving residents belong to India, we do not need to look beyond our borders to nail the culprits.

More than six decades post independence and being counted as one of the key growth engines to the world economy, why are hunger deaths still happening in India? Is it because there is a scarcity of food to offer the ones hungry? Clearly that is not the case.

Those leading a life above the poverty line pay taxes to the Central and the State Governments so that it is used for public facilities, amenities and for the benefit of those living the poverty line. Obviously, those in power have to let go of their hunger for corruption or we have to watch the country going down the drains. Otherwise, it would constantly fail to administer the proper distribution of food and nutrition to people who matter.

We all talk about “3 idiots” and how a college principal is called a murderer who is responsible for the suicide of the students in his college. In the same way, aren’t the following responsible for the demise of people from hunger in our country?

1. Politicians responsible for making food security and food distribution laws.
2. Governmental agencies responsible for proper storage of food grains.
3. Bureaucrats responsible for administration and distribution amongst the right people.
4. Local security agencies which must maintain law and order to ensure proper distribution.

And why is it that they are not punished for these deaths. We have poor being imprisoned for thefts but those in power prosper, while the poor suffer. Is there any accountability for what is being and can be done to break this nexus? Would those in urban cities who are fortunate enough to be writing and reading this blog do something about it? Would they start taking candle light walks in memory of those unfortunate who die in India of hunger every day? Will they go beyond the regular candle marches or force those in power to take responsibility and amend their ways?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an IANS report on "The dark side of India's economic growth" leading to growing hunger and malnutrition in India:


New Delhi: A more inclusive growth policy targeted at marginalised communities and protection of their basic rights is required to combat hunger in India, international NGO ActionAid said.

"The dark side of India's economic growth is the fact that the poor have been dispossessed further, leading to malnutrition, hunger and starvation deaths," Sandeep Chachra, executive director of ActionAid India said here.


The International Food Policy Research Institute has ranked India 67th on the global hunger index, way below its neighbours China and Pakistan.

In a hunger score card released before the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations headquarters at New York in September, ActionAid said that while India's per capita income had tripled between 1990 and 2005, the number of chronically hungry had not reduced, standing at a staggering 270 million.

At this rate, India cannot halve its number of those starving until 2083, the report said.

"Implementation remains a massive challenge. Food and other entitlements have to be delivered on the ground, which requires greater political will," Amar Joyti Nayak, thematic head for food rights for ActionAid India, said.

Riaz Haq said...

There is great concern that hunger and poverty will increase in rural India as the subsidies are reduced in 2010 budget, according to a piece in Outlook India:

It is also shocking that food subsidy has been reduced by over Rs. 400 crore despite the commitment to enact a food security legislation. Fertiliser subsidy has also been cut by a whopping Rs. 3000 crore from what was spent last year. These moves to reduce subsidies in the name of targetting comes at a time when inflation is galloping and agricultural output growth has become negative. The anti-people approach of the Government in reducing subsidies was laid bare in the Economic survey, which has prescribed the dismantling of the PDS and initiating a “coupon system” for food and fertilisers.

Riaz Haq said...

A US NIH funded study published in Lancet says over 200,000 Indians die of Malaria among 1.3 million infectious disease deaths reported in the country, according to a report by the BBC:

he number of people dying from malaria in India has been hugely underestimated, according to new research.

The data, published in the Lancet, suggests there are 13 times more malaria deaths in India than the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

The authors conclude that more than 200,000 deaths per year are caused by malaria.

The WHO said the estimate produced by this study appears too high.

The research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

The new figures raise doubts over the total number of malaria deaths worldwide.
Difficult diagnosis

Calculating how many people die from malaria is extremely difficult. Most cases that are diagnosed and treated do not result in fatalities.

People who die of extremely high fevers in the community can be misdiagnosed and the cause of death can be attributed to other diseases and vice versa.

As most deaths in India occur at home, without medical intervention, cause of death is seldom medically certified.

There are about 1.3 million deaths from infectious diseases, where acute fever is the main symptom in rural areas in India.

In this study, trained field workers interviewed families, asking them to describe how their relative died. Two doctors then reviewed each description and decided if the death was caused by malaria. This method is called verbal autopsy.

Some 122,000 premature deaths between 2001 and 2003 were investigated.

The data suggests that 205,000 deaths before the age of 70, mainly in rural areas, are caused by malaria each year.

Riaz Haq said...

Two-thirds of India's population lacks basic sanitation facilities. They are exposed to a variety of infectious disease resulting in 1.3 million deaths a year accounting for the largest number of victims of infections in the world. Studies indicate the prevalence of infections may be contributing to lower IQ of Indians.

In addition to malaria, dengue fever, and cysticercosis, India also has a huge disease burden of rabies, caused by dog bites. In India, 20,000 rabies deaths (that is about 2/100,000 population) are estimated to occur annually, according to Times of India.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.

Lizette Burgers, chief of water and environment sanitation of the Unicef, recently said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia. A former Indian minister Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told the BBC that more than 65% of India's rural population defecated in the open, along roadsides, railway tracks and fields, generating huge amounts of excrement every day.

A US NIH funded study published in Lancet says over 200,000 Indians die of Malaria among 1.3 million infectious disease deaths reported in the country, according to a report by the BBC.

Riaz Haq said...

A recent global Hygiene Home Truths Study says India is among the worst when it comes to hygiene, according to released recently, according to a report published in Times of India.

The study shows 51% of Indian household surfaces were unsatisfactory or heavily contaminated with bacteria. About 85% of Indian household surfaces were unsatisfactory or highly contaminated with mould, a form of fungus.

Read more: ‘Indian homes as dirty as it gets’ - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/-Indian-homes-as-dirty-as-it-gets/articleshow/6782681.cms#ixzz139DqfCGv

Riaz Haq said...

Malnutrition in India is worse than in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a news report in The Guardian:

A report out today warns that even in a fast-growing economy like India, failure to invest in agriculture and support small farms has left nearly half the country's children malnourished, with one fifth of the one billion plus population going hungry.

ActionAid, which published the report ahead of next week's summit in New York to discuss progress on the millennium development goals, says hunger is costing the world's poorest nations £290bn a year – more than 10 times the estimated amount needed to meet the goal of halving global hunger by 2015.

India now has worse rates of malnutrition than sub-Saharan Africa: 43.5% of children under five are underweight and India ranks below Sudan and Zimbabwe in the Global Hunger Index. Even without last year's disastrous monsoon and the ensuing drought and crop failures, hunger was on the increase.

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India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, protested, saying the court had crossed the line into policy-making and warning that distributing free food to the estimated 37% of the population living below the poverty line destroyed any incentives for farmers to produce. The court stood firm. It was an order, not a suggestion, the judges said.
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The poker is glowing red hot in the flames of the burning wood. Suklal Hembrom holds a leaf against his stomach and warily eyes the older man sitting on the other side of the fire. Suddenly Thakur Das takes hold of the poker and lunges towards the boy's stomach.

Everyone in the village knows what should happen next. The child will scream loudly as the flesh begins to blister. Held down, he will writhe in agony. Again and again, the poker will jab at his belly. The more the child screams, the happier everyone will be, because the villagers of Mirgitand in India's Jharkhand state believe the only way they can "cure" the distended stomachs of their famished children is by branding them with pokers.

Das sees nothing wrong with the procedure. Nor does anyone in the village – most have scars of their own. Even though some children have died, the villagers continue because the alternative – providing enough nutritious food to sustain their children or paying for medical treatment – is simply not an option. In common with millions of others in the world's 11th largest economy, they face a daily battle to put even the most basic meal on the table.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/14/hunger-india-actionaid

Riaz Haq said...

With nearly a fourth of its 1.1 billion popu-lation hungry, India indeed is the world’s hunger capital.

As more and more reports of the global financial meltdown are pouring in, digest this. It made the world scurry to a grim one billion hungry people, a fact perceived as a grave threat to global peace and security. The UN estimates that hunger now affects one in six people, compounded by factors such as war, drought or floods, high food prices and poverty. Most of the hunger in a world of plenty results from grinding, deep-rooted poverty.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), there are 100 million more hungry people this year, meaning they consume fewer than 1,800 calories a day. A spokesman of the World Food Programme said hungry people rioted in at least 30 countries last year, leading to, most notably, deadly riots in Haiti sparked off by soaring food prices to spiral into the overthrow of the prime minister.

“A hungry world is a dangerous world,” he said, “without food, people have only three options: They riot, they emigrate or they die. None of these are acceptable options.” Are not the Kalahandi district of Orissa and Lalgarh of West Bengal illustrative examples of the observation?

Absent State
Commentators note that in the 1990s, when India began to move towards a free market, the Naxalite movement revived in some of the poorest and most populous Indian states. Part of the reason for this is that some livelihood and living-related issues like agriculture, public health, education and poverty-eradication have been given a short shrift, exposing large sections of the population to disease, debt, hunger and starvation. The Indian state is conspicuously absent in most backward areas of the country.



Notwithstanding plaudits such as Thomas Friedman celebrating India as a success story of globalisation, it must be put on record that India has a terrible record in tackling hunger and malnutrition. Amartya Sen has repeatedly pointed out how the ‘very poor’ in India get a small share of the cake that information technology and related developments generate.

India ranked 66th on the 2008 Global Hunger Index of 88 countries, as per a report released by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
India has the highest number of undernourished people in the world — 230 million — added to which 1.5 million children are at risk of becoming malnourished because of rising global food prices.

The report of the UN World Food Programme is quite unflattering. More than 27 per cent of the world’s undernourished population lives in India, of whom 43 per cent children (under five years) are underweight. The figure is higher than the global average of 25 per cent and even beats sub-Saharan Africa’s figure of 28 per cent. Nearly 50 per cent of child deaths in India occur due to malnutrition.

Left out
“In no case should we allow citizens to go hungry,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admirably said in a meeting of state chief secretaries to take stock of the drought-like conditions in parts of the country. He seemed to be aware that non-utilisation of funds by a few states under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna and National Food Security Mission, the two major schemes for the agriculture sector launched by the Centre, is another factor why, despite the element of goodwill, the target beneficiaries remain outside the loop of development.

The National Food Security Act of the UPA government is a step in the right direction as it envisages food-security-for-all. But the task of expanding our public distribution system must also take into account weeding out bogus cardholders and hoarders, while a stricter vigil has to be kept on both the quantity and quality of the available foodstock under PDS. Incorrect information, inaccurate measurement of household characteristics, corruption and inefficiency must be plugged.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/21720/india-still-worlds-hunger-capital.html

Riaz Haq said...

The 2013 GHI says that in India the proportion of undernourished declined from about 21% of the population to 17.5%, the proportion of underweight children declined from 43.5% to about 40% and under-five mortality declined from 7.5% to about 6%. All this put together means that the hunger index for India declined from 24 to 21 between 2003-07 and 2008-12. The proportion of underweight children is an estimate done by IFPRI as the last survey was done in 2004-05.

In other words, the proportions and the index for India are at best an approximation. Other surveys done more recently have shown trends that indicate that the nutritive value of food consumed per person is dipping. A recent survey of consumer expenditure said that nutritional intake measured in terms of calories declined from 2,153 kilocalories (Kcal) per person per day in 1993-94 to 2,020 in 2009-10 in rural areas and from 2,071 to 1,946 Kcal in urban areas. These shocking results are according to a report of the 66th round of survey done by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). Even between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the calorie intake per person per day dipped from 2,047 to 2,020 in rural areas and from 2,020 to 1,946 in urban areas.

Despite these caveats regarding the GHI data, India still continues in the "Alarming" category of countries classified by severity of hunger. That puts it in the category where the hunger index is between 20 and 29.9. Others in this category are Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo, Chad, Niger, and other African countries. These are places ravaged by resource wars and extreme poverty, and they make up the bottom most bunch in the Human Development Index rankings. Meanwhile, an October report on food prospects issued by FAO forecast a record cereal harvest for 2013 powered by a 7% increase in production over 2012. Wheat output is estimated at 705 million metric tons (MMT), a record. Coarse grains output is put at 1,288 MMT, another record. And rice output is estimated at 496 MMT, yet another record. Wheat prices have declined in international markets by 16% over last year, rice prices are down 23% and maize prices by 35%, according to FAO's price monitor in October quoting prices for September 2013. With huge production and declining prices worldwide, why the world's hungry are not getting enough food is a conundrum that policy makers and experts are groping to answer.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-home-to-a-quarter-of-the-worlds-hungry-Global-Hunger-Index-report/articleshow/24171694.cms