Planning minister Rao Inderjit Singh said that the Global Hunger Index does not reflect on the levels of hunger/lack to access to food in general population. India was ranked at 102 out of 117 on the Global Hunger Index in 2019.

“As per Global Hunger Index 2019, in India, just 9.6 percent of all children between 6 to 23 months of age are fed a minimum acceptable diet,” minister said in response to a question in Rajya Sabha.

A ‘minimum acceptable diet’ is a standard that combines minimum dietary diversity and minimum meal frequency, with different recommendations for breastfed and non-breastfed children.

The minister informed that the calculation of the Global Hunger Index, 2019, is based on four indicators namely, the percentage of population that is undernourished (weightage 1/3rd); percentage of children under five years old who suffer from wasting, percentage of children under five years old who suffer from stunting (weightage 1/3rd) and child mortality (weightage 1/3rd).

“As per our estimates, the way index is constructed over 70% of the weightage of index is on child undernourishment, which in itself is on account of multiple social determinants and deprivations and its impact,” he said. “Therefore the Index does not reflect on the levels of hunger/lack to access to food in general population,” the minister added.

According to the planning minister, the government of India accords high priority to the issue of hunger and malnutrition and is implementing several schemes/programs to improve food security situation in the country.

Government allocates food grains at highly subsidized prices to states and union territories under National Food Security Act 2013 and at present covers 800 million persons (75% population in rural areas and 50% population in urban areas), the minister said, adding that the coverage under the Act is substantially high to ensure that all the vulnerable and needy sections of society get its benefits.

Central government is also implementing other welfare schemes like Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) which provides supplementary nutrition to children, pregnant women and lactating mothers, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Annapurna Scheme for the senior citizens, Emergency Feeding Programs, Swachh Bharat Mission, Anemia Mukt Bharat, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Pradhan Mantri Matru VandanaYojana and the Intensified Home Based Newborn Care etc.

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