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India's ranking in Global Health Index driven by incorrect record: Expert
Canberra: India ranked 107 out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022, slipping 6 ranks and an expert believes that the ranking had been driven almost entirely by an incorrectly recorded rise in the number of children who have low body weight for their height.
Dr Salvatore Babones, Associate Professor of Sociology, at the University of Sydney said that India's performance on GHI 2022 "has been driven almost entirely by an incorrectly recorded rise in the number of children who have low body weight for their height, a phenomenon called 'wasting'," according to Amit Sarwal writing in The Australia Today. In the recent report of the Global Hunger Index, India ranked 107 out of 121 countries with its child-wasting rate at 19.3 per cent, being the highest in the world.
Surprisingly, Pakistan is going through a severe economic crisis, floods, and medical issues and according to US President Joe Biden, it is "one of the most dangerous nations in the world" and still got position 99 in the Global Health Index.
Even not only Pakistan but India's rank was below its neighbouring countries Sri Lanka (rank 64), Nepal (rank 81), and Bangladesh (rank 84), according to The Australia Today.
Afghanistan, ruled by the Islamist terrorist organization Taliban and presently supported in its food and medical needs by India, has been placed at rank 109 just behind India.
On the recent GHI report, Babones further added, "The wasting data cited by GHI in their 2022 report are consistent with official GoI data from the National Family Health Survey. The problem seems to be that the GHI's prior report (2014) used incorrect, artificially low-wasting estimates for India. The result is that the GHI is reporting a rise in wasting since 2014, when in fact the actual data show a modest decline in wasting."
Babones also believed that the thresholds on which the Indian and GFI hunger data are based do not necessarily represent actual hunger. He further added that they represented the weight of Indian children compared to a reference survey of children around the world, according to The Australia Today.
"The fact that many Indian children are lighter than other children of the same height do not necessarily mean that they are less well-nourished. It may even simply reflect the higher prevalence of vegetarianism in India than in other countries," he added.
The Expert Committee of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also has the same idea as Babones and concluded that it doesn't "measure hunger per se" as undernourishment, stunting, wasting and child mortality are not the manifestations of hunger alone.
In a report entitled "Global Hunger Index does not really measure hunger - An Indian perspective" authors noted, "Referring to this index as a Hunger Index, and thereby ranking countries is not appropriate, since many of the measures that are used to evolve an index that measures hunger are probably contextual. Countries should therefore evolve their own measures that are suitable for their own context."
Meanwhile, India rejected the Global Hunger index 2022 report, saying it suffers from serious methodological issues and chooses to deliberately ignore efforts made by Government to ensure food security for the population.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development in a statement stressed that it is a consistent effort to taint India's image as a nation.
"A consistent effort is yet again visible to taint India's image as a nation that does not fulfil the food security and nutritional requirements of its population. Misinformation seems to be the hallmark of the annually released Global Hunger Index," according to the statement released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The statement added, "The index is an erroneous measure of hunger and suffers from serious methodological issues."
The statement pointed out that three out of the four indicators used for the calculation of the index are related to the health of Children and cannot be representative of the entire population.
The Australia Today also mentioned that India's opposition party leaders from Congress, TMC and Left instead of questioning the obvious bias and lack of transparency in data collection, asked the government to look into the matter.
Congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted "When will the honourable PM address real issues like malnutrition, hunger, and stunting and wasting among children? 22.4 crore people in India are considered undernourished."
Sitaram Yechury, Secretary-General of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) tweeted that the government must take responsibility for this era of darkness India has been brought to in 8.5 years.
Mahua Moitra, All India Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament Lok Sabha (Krishnanagar), tweeted "Messrs Modi & Shah - all our neighbours who you so lovingly call termites & "ghoospetias" are doing better than us!"
The publication also pointed out that GHI 2022 also goes against the findings of a working paper of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that noted Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKAY), which provides free foodgrains to poor people, played a key role in keeping extreme poverty in India at the lowest level of 0.8 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the second year in a row that the Indian government has rejected the GHI rankings. (ANI)