The Congress on Friday targeted the Modi government after India slipped to 111th rank in the Global Hunger Index (GHI), asking whether 74 per cent of Indians are not able to afford a healthy diet due to backbreaking price rise.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge cited data from the National Health and Family Survey 2019-2021 and Indian experts to say that 57 per cent of our women, aged between 15 and 49 years, are anaemic.
“The Modi government is allergic to any critical Global data, but even Indian data says that our people are going hungry. The Modi government can deny that India’s rank in the Global Hunger Index slipped from 107th out of 121 countries in 2022 to 111th out of 125 countries in 2023.
“But would they deny the following — Is it not true that 35.5 per cent of children under the age of five are stunted? Which means their height has not grown with their age. Is it not a fact that 19.3 per cent of children in India are wasted? Which means they weigh less than the national average for their height. Is it incorrect that 57 per cent of our women, aged between 15 and 49 years, are anaemic,” he asked in a post on X.
“Is it untrue that in Modi government’s Budget 2023-24, food subsidy saw an astounding decrease of 31.28 per cent – that is, one-third of its funds were slashed? Is it not a fact that 74 per cent of Indians were not able to afford a healthy diet, due to backbreaking, food-snatching, price rise imposed by the BJP,” Kharge further asked.
The Congress chief said they are putting out the Government Of India numbers by the National Health and Family Survey [NFHS-5] 2019-2021 and Indian experts.
“It is another story that even the Global Hunger Index, which is scrutinised by experts is based on food balance sheets reported by us – India and is even used for UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the Modi government now does not accept it,” he said.
“The Modi government can also claim that food grains are being distributed to 80 crore Indians – but according to experts, even that number is short of a whopping 14 crore people, because Census 2021 is indefinitely delayed,” he alleged.
Kharge claimed it was the Congress-UPA which brought the Food Security Act, 2013 under Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, but the BJP had opposed it.
“The nation has not forgotten the then CM Shri Modi’s shameful remark on our Gujarat girls and malnutrition,” he said, apparently referring to his alleged remark attributing the state’s high rates of malnutrition to “vegetarianism and figure-conscious Gujarati girls.”
India ranked 111th out of 125 countries in the GHI-2023, which was rejected by the government as erroneous and having malafide intent. The index, released on Thursday, also stated that India has the highest child-wasting rate in the world at 18.7 per cent, reflecting acute undernutrition.
India ranked 107th out of 121 countries in the 2022 edition of the GHI, a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional and national levels.
With a score of 28.7 in the GHI-2023, India has a level of hunger that is “serious”, according to a report based on the index.
India’s neighbouring countries Pakistan (102nd), Bangladesh (81st), Nepal (69th) and Sri Lanka (60th) have fared better than it in the index. South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara are the world regions with the highest hunger levels, with a GHI score of 27 each, indicating serious hunger.
“India has the highest child wasting rate in the world, at 18.7 per cent, reflecting acute undernutrition,” the report based on the index stated. Wasting is measured based on children’s weight relative to their height.