Why the Global Hunger Index is deeply flawed

Last week, when the global hunger index was released by these two nonprofits, one from Germany and one from Ireland. And believe me, if you were in India, during Diwali, you may not have realized it. But India seems to be having a serious hunger problem, according to this report. And, those of us who’ve been in India for so long, we’ve been through the ups and downs. We realize what hunger is. And we’ve seen it in the public distribution system in the public health system and working in far-flung remote areas, medical camps and school dental programs, and health programs. They’ve never seen I’ve never seen personally hunger of that kind, the way that’s manifested in the report. And maybe my view is very, very limited to the areas I’ve been to. I’ve spent a lot of my time in the South. Of course, I’ve worked in rural Karnataka, I worked in rhodium, Delhi. But I have not seen a hunger of this kind.

As per the report we have a serious problem,

But the report has been produced by two very well-known NGOs. So I’m assuming there’s a certain degree of element of truth to it. The way India reacted to this report is the way we react to any report, we dismissed it. We said the parameters were wrong. And which could be the truth, I’m not denying it. Now, what was interesting about this was, I would have let it slide, but for reading an article by Chetan Bhagat, who I read very highly as an as a management guru and less as an author. But anyway, he came out swinging like a true MBA, proving his credentials from IBM about that. There was something off about the way the report was structured. And that piqued my interest. So I went into it. So I went and downloaded the report and read through it. It’s pretty interesting to read a gloomy picture. If you asked me. It looks like we are in large trouble from a hunger perspective. And one of the interesting things I noticed was that most of the western world is the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, but they were not in the report. Right. There’s no hunger problem there, which is, I think, a big fallacy. But anyway, South America, and Eastern Europe, including Russia with all green, South Africa, and Southeast Asia were moderate. That means they’re not totally green, but they’re fine. They should be okay. and Central Africa, the situation was alarming.

India along with certain other countries, we were in serious trouble, according to the global hunger index. And I was like, why is it that suddenly India is in serious trouble, right? And so, I went into the dynamics and therefore parameters that they use to devise this report. One is called undernourishment. Other parameters of which are provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization are part of the United Nations. The second is child mortality. Now, regarding child mortality, those of you who’ve been in India know that Mother and Child policies are laid down by the government of India, they’re strictly followed and monitored at various levels. So under-five mortality, is what they mean by child mortality, as opposed to infant mortality, which is childbirth and child death at birth, for the undefined mortality is collected by something called the United Nations agency for mortality estimation. And that was the second agency that occurred involved. But the third agency that got involved, which is my favorite agency for creating trouble in India, is UNICEF. I have never seen UNICEF being fair to India. So I was very intrigued that they were responsible for two of the parameters. And those are the two parameters that took India’s score down and gave us an alarming or serious situation ranking there. And one was child stunting. And the other was child-wasting. No child stunting means that if it’s two basis points below what they believe the child’s growth should be by UNICEF standards, then that’s called Child stunting and child wasting is if the rate is below two basis points of what UNICEF deems them to be. Now, both are interesting parameters. I don’t know who exactly compiled this report, I don’t see an auditor signing off on the report. And I don’t think any of the big consulting firms are involved. But the way I look at the report, and if I see the three organizations involved, the one we have the maximum trouble with is UNICEF.

UNICEF single-handedly managed two parameters. And interestingly, in both these parameters into just very poorly, so we don’t we are undernourished and our infant mortality under-five mortality is is is better than what it should be. I’m not saying that’s acceptable, but it’s better than it should be. But we are under we are stunted. And we are wasted as children. And I’m assuming that continues. I mean, I don’t know how suddenly, if you are wasted as a child and your weight is low, and your height is low, then how as adults is only catch up with their height. Because I don’t think we have a problem with that once they grow up. And then we have an obesity problem. So there’s something not right about it. Someone wants Jaden harder than I are on the same page. Something needs to be done about it something somebody needs to look into it. The government of India obviously feels this is off. I don’t know what is the sample size. Somebody told me the sample size was 3000. For a country of 1.4 billion 3000. The sample size is too short. Somebody else said this was the government of India data. And we had a six lakh sample size. And UNICEF just compiled it together. Well, they compiled it and they benchmarked it against the standard. Now that’s the standard that’s causing trouble. And I look to the entire board and almost every country in Africa and Asia has done poorly on these two standards. So what’s the plan next? Is it to feed us more proteins and make more food available in India? I don’t think we have we have a food problem we’ve been exporting food for a very long time, actually Indian media for the deficiency in wheat exports due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. So I don’t think production is a problem. We’ve got record productions even this year. Maybe distribution is a problem. Maybe I don’t know. But India always had midday meal schemes. Of course, after two years of the pandemic, we did not have schools running. Maybe that was an issue. Maybe possible. But the schools are up now. And the midday scheme, midday meal schemes, and controversies are back. So should I assume by next year, we should be fine? We don’t have a serious problem. The other thing that the Modi government did very well as they gave free food to most people below the poverty line.

Most of this food was arranged through the public distribution system. And it has direct deposit into the households. So the family is not feeding the children. That’s a social issue more than an economic or a political issue. So I don’t know the answer to this, but this is something we need. to look into, and UNICEF remains a problem area for me. It’s not the first time they’ve done this. And it may not be the last time. But there’s no smoke without fire. So it’s worth investigating maybe next year when the schools are running one year of school, and hey, guess what, we never had a problem. It says the schools were closed, that’s a real COVID issue. Once the schools are open and midday meal schemes are back into the children, the height catches up, the rate catches up, and everything catches up. And then we have another problem. They’re obese. Hey, so that’s, that’s the global hunger index. If you want to check the report out, here is the link. And be good to get your opinion. I’m going to seriously think about it. Don’t just read this and go back to your normal life. Just think about it. Do you see hunger problems anywhere around you? Especially, you know, close to the urban and semi-urban or rural areas below the poverty line people? Just think about it. Is it really happening, our children not getting fed? Then we should do something about it. But I doubt I doubt that’s the case.

My personal belief is that this is a segway for European and American food giants to come in and help us with nutrition ay a cost. I won’t be surprised if big organizations now make a beeline for India under the pretext of healthy food. But just my theory let me know what you think.

Do send me your thoughts on the same.

Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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