Alok Aniket //
Behind the splendour of capitalist development lies a grim reality of hunger and malnutrition, which is well known to the poor working class people. However it is rarely that this grim truth comes out in oficial reports of the bourgeois institutions who usually are well versed in distorting the reality. One such report is the Global Hunger Index, which is an annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.
India is ranked 94 among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2020 and is in the ‘serious’ hunger category with a score of 27.2, according to report released a few days back. India’s rank was 102 out of 117 countries last year. In the index, India features behind Nepal (73), Pakistan (88), Bangladesh (75), Indonesia (70) among others. Out of the total 107 countries, only 13 countries fare worse than India including countries like Rwanda (97), Nigeria (98), Afghanistan (99), Liberia (102), Mozambique (103), Chad (107) among others.
According to the report, 14 per cent of India’s population is undernourished. It also says that the country recorded a child stunting rate of 37.4 per cent. Stunted children are those who have a “low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition”. It also showed a wasting rate of 17.3 per cent among children. The under-five mortality rate stood at 3.7 per cent. Wasting is children who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
“Data from 1991 through 2014 for Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan showed that stunting is concentrated among children from households facing multiple forms of deprivation, including poor dietary diversity, low levels of maternal education, and household poverty,” the GHI report stated. “In many countries the situation is improving too slowly, while in others it is worsening. For 46 countries in the moderate, serious, or alarming categories, GHI scores have improved since 2012, but for 14 countries in those categories, GHI scores show that hunger and undernutrition have worsened. The latest GHI projections show that 37 countries will fail to achieve even low hunger by 2030,” the report said.
This is the situation when both the UPA and NDA governments have been touting India as the fastest growing country for so many years and the corporate media is going gaga that Asia’s richest man is from India. Country has more than 10 crore tonnes of food stocks lying in storage, much of which is fated to rot and vanish, but capitalist system driven by profits does not allow these to be distributed to the hungry for fear of prices going down. Instead the food prices keep going higher and higher despite such huge buffer stocks and the price inflation for food items is now nearing double digits.
[Originally published in The Truth: Platform for Radical Voices of The Working Class (Issue 7 / November 2020)]