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Measuring Hunger Across Indian States


Why is it in the news?

  1. According to Global Hunger Index (GHI), India ranks 107 out of 121 countries in the GHI 2022.
  2. Despite being a major food producer and having extensive food security programs, India faces significant food insecurity and hunger issues.

Disparities among States

  1. Subnational data reveals disparities in hunger and malnutrition across Indian states.
  2. India’s diverse regions experience varying levels of food insecurity and child malnutrition.

State Hunger Index (SHI)

  1. SHI is a localized measurement tool based on GHI indicators but replaces calorie undernourishment with body mass index (BMI) undernourishment among the working-age population.
  2. SHI scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more severe hunger.

Hunger Categories by States:

  1. States like Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh score 35, falling into the ‘alarming’ hunger category.
  2. Several other states score above the national average (29), similar to African nations, indicating serious hunger.
  3. Some states, including Chandigarh, Sikkim, Puducherry, and Kerala, score below 16, categorized as ‘moderate hunger.’
  4. None of the states fall under the ‘low hunger’ category.

Historical Perspective

A historical effort in 2008 assessed hunger at a subnational level, ranking Punjab, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh as top performers, while Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh were least-performing states.

Deteriorating GHI Score

  1. India’s GHI score has worsened in recent years primarily due to increasing calorie undernourishment.
  2. Discrepancies exist between the government’s claims and the GHI findings, as the government has not provided empirical evidence to support its stance.

Lack of Recent Data

  1. Data on nutritional intake, especially calorie undernourishment, is outdated as the last National Sample Survey (NSS) round was conducted in 2011-12.
  2. The NSS conducted in 2020-21 included questions on household food insecurity, but information on these is unavailable.

Persistent Challenges

India continues to face challenges in addressing food insecurity, hunger, and child malnutrition despite notable progress in reducing extreme poverty.


 About the Global Hunger Index (GHI)
ObjectiveComprehensive measurement and tracking of hunger at global, regional, and national levels, considering various dimensions of hunger over time.
Published byPartnership between Concern Worldwide (Ireland’s largest aid and humanitarian agency) and Welthungerhilfe.
First GHI Report2006
CalculationGHI score for each country is determined by a formula that combines four indicators to capture the multidimensional nature of hunger:
I) Undernourishment: Share of the population with insufficient caloric intake.
II) Child Stunting: Share of children under age five with low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.
III) Child Wasting: Share of children under age five with low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.IV) Child Mortality: Share of children who die before their fifth birthday, partly reflecting inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments.

Hunger Issues in India


  1. According to the Food and Agriculture Report 2020, India is home to 195.9 million undernourished people, accounting for approximately 24% of the World’s hungry.
  2. Prevalence of undernourishment in India is 14.8% higher than both the global and Asian averages.
  3. The National Health Survey in 2020 reported that around 19 crore people in India go to bed hungry every night.
  4. Over 4500 children under the age of five die in India every day due to hunger and malnutrition, totalling more than three lakh annual child deaths attributed to hunger.

Causes of Hunger and Malnutrition

  1. Calorific deficiency due to improper allocation and distribution of surplus foodgrains.
  2. Lack of budgetary allocation for pulses in the Public Distribution System (PDS).
  3. Micronutrient deficiency (hidden hunger) caused by poor diet and health issues.
  4. Poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
  5. Low immunization rates against communicable diseases.
  6. Lack of awareness among women about the importance of a balanced diet.
  7. A vicious cycle of poverty, hunger, and indebtedness.
  8. Post-harvest losses, wastage, and ineffective market linkage.
  9. Non-affordability of nutritious foods for the poor.
 Government Intervention in addressing Hunger Issues
Eat Right India MovementAn outreach activity by FSSAI to promote healthy eating.
POSHAN AbhiyanA scheme by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to combat malnutrition.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana YojanaA maternity benefit program.
Food FortificationAddition of vitamins and minerals to staple foods.
National Food Security Act, 2013Provides subsidized food grains to a significant portion of the population.
Mission IndradhanushTargets immunization of children under 2 years and pregnant women.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme Offers services to children aged 0-6 years and pregnant/lactating mothers.

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