Recently, NGOs Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe from Ireland and Germany respectively which measure and track hunger at global regional and national levels jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 2022.
As per the GHI published by the NGOs, India dropped by 6 points to rank 107 out of 121 countries. India had ranked 94 and 101 in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
India’s 2022 GHI was ranked below that of African nations viz; Sudan, Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda. She fared worse than her Asian neighbors like Nepal (ranked 81), Bangladesh (84), and Pakistan (99).
Only 15 countries-Papua New Guinea (102), Afghanistan (103), Nigeria (103), Congo (105), Mozambique (106), Sierra Leone (106), Timor-Leste (108), Haiti(109), Liberia(110), Madagascar(111), Democratic Republic of Congo(112), Chad(113), Central African Republic( 114), Yemen(115) and Somalia(116) fared worse than India this year.
The GHI Score is calculated on four indicators- child wasting (children under five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute under nutrition), child stunting (children under five who have low height for age, reflecting chronic under nutrition), and child mortality (mortality rate of children below five).
On publication of the dismal Indian GHI score, the opposition went for the Modi government’s jugular:
‘Hindi and spreading hate are not antidote to hunger’ tweeted Congress leader P Chidambaram.
‘The BJP speaks about making India a $5 trillion economy. But we are also ranked 107 on the GHI. 106 countries including Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh are better than us in providing bread twice a day. India cannot become number one without providing good education to every child’ asserted Delhi Education Minister and senior AAP leader, Manish Sisodia.
‘Dangerous, sharp slide of India on GHI since 2014. Modi government is disastrous for India. Low food stocks barely over minimum buffer, and rising prices. The government must take responsibility for this era of darkness India has been brought to in 8.5 years. Enough of PR, spin and lies’, added CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury.
The government which thrives on sycophancy, beating chests and parroting superlatives about ‘achievements’ of their supreme leader and Prime Minister Modi by ministers, chamchas and civil servants, was caught on the back foot by the dismal GHI score and opposition attack. That even Pakistan was better ranked than India was indigestible!
The fourth estate went on an overdrive to smother publication of the shameful slip in GHI rankings. Opinions criticizing the centre on the issue, starting from letters to the editor to editorials were gagged, while those condoning the government despite the poor ranking by die-hard government supporters bred on indoctrination and all-weather Hindutva ideology were given prominence. Ways of the times proved themselves once again. Allergy of a haughty government to criticism for bad governance and poor report cards was for all to see.
The centre slammed the GHI report for 2022 as ‘part of a consistent effort to taint the country’s image as one that does not fulfill food security and nutritional requirements of its population.’
The government said ‘the index suffers from serious methodological issues.’
Ministers of heavyweight ministries viz; home, finance and external affairs overstepped portfolios to rubbish the GHI ranking, and brush the unfavorable report under the carpet. The ranking was condemned, imagining every Indian was a fool to believe them.
The Women and Child Development Ministry besides other things stressed that ‘misinformation seems to be the hallmark of the annually released GHI.’
The ministry said ‘three of the four indicators used to calculate the GHI are related to health of children, and cannot be representative of the entire population.’ The current ruling disposition’s effort to wriggle out of the discomfiture brought about by the unfavorable GHI ranking went on. And on.
The government might, through its wily PR machinery, throttled press and a gang of die-hard supporters bred on ideology of division and audacious hatred of minorities, and ministers and Civil servants programmed to sing paeans and halleluiahs to the government and the ‘leader’ spared no effort to undo the damage.
Sensible citizens, or what is left of that subset of population on extinction mode knows much better than programmed individuals running the government that the priority of the government of the day at the centre is not to feed hungry Indians, but to topple state governments which are not ruled by the BJP, as witnessed in Maharashtra only recently. To have central agencies like the ED, NIA, CBI, customs and governors shoot on the heels of state governments unwilling to join the sycophancy choir, as was, and is being witnessed in Kerala, West Bengal, and Delhi.
The priority of the government is not to alleviate poverty. To feed hungry mouths. This is exactly what the GHI reflected whether the central government liked it or didn’t.
When India slips further down the GHI rankings, the central government has drawn up a shopping list with a huge shopping bag in hand, and has queued up before the supermarket when the rumble of hungry stomachs and whimper of children perishing of malnutrition are clearly audible in the near vicinity.
. The shopping list and the cost of individual items in parenthesis reads thus;
- Ram Temple in Ayodhya (Rs.1,800 crores)
- New Parliament Building (Rs.862 crores)
- Refurbishing of Central Vista in Delhi ( Rs.477 crores)
- Construction of Sardar Patel’s statue of unity in Gujarat(Rs.2,989 crores)
- 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation( Rs.58,891 crores)
India’s tumble to the bottom of the GHI rankings can only be halted not only by spending more on food than splurging on costly shopping lists.
Hungry stomachs will cease rumbling in India only when humility replaces blatant haughtiness within the central government. Only when sycophancy corrupting the powers-that-be tolerates criticism.
It is only when truth and reason to improve are imbibed from unfavorable report cards that a country can progress.
Meek acceptance of facts, grotesque though they might be, will ease hunger and other inadequacies. Inappropriate and arm-twisted paeans are but short-lived.
It doesn’t take much for dressed-up bubble of prosperity and growth to burst. It doesn’t take long for halleluiahs to turn dirges. Vainglory is but a deceptive rainbow and dressed up prosperity a deceptive desert oasis.
Pursuit of truth in humility and respect for her forefathers are panacea for all ills plaguing 21st century India.