October 22, 2023

India's Fall in Global Hunger Index Raises Concern

Below we publish the statement issued by the All India Kisan Sabha, on October 16.

THE latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) that was released last week has once again highlighted the deteriorating situation of food insecurity and malnutrition in India. As we mark another World Food Day (October 16), we are confronted with this miserable reality where crores of people in India are faced with chronic shortages of food, a majority of children and women remain malnourished, and  healthy diets remain far from the reach of most people.

The latest Global Hunger Report has shown that India's rank in the Global Hunger Index has slipped further, to 111 among 125 countries. Last year, it was 107 out of 121 countries. In 2014, when the Modi regime came to power, India's rank in the GHI was 55 out of 120 countries. From this, we can see the steep fall in the Modi years in power.

As was the case last year, this year also all the South Asian countries other than Afghanistan rank higher than India. In July, the State of Food Security and Nutrition report released jointly by five UN organisations had shown that between 2019-21 and 2020-22, the number of people facing moderate or severe food insecurity had increased in India from 57 crores to 59 crores, and the number of people facing chronic hunger increased from 22 crores to 23 crores.

The falling rank of India in terms of GHI has once again shown that the Covid Pandemic and the draconian lockdown the Modi government imposed in 2020 without any planning had a devastating impact on people's lives. The adverse impact of loss of livelihoods caused by the pandemic and the lockdown was not mitigated by the welfare programmes of the Modi government. It is worth remembering that, despite having more than 10 crore tonnes of grains in the godowns, the Modi government refused to expand the coverage of the public distribution system and make the access universal even during the period of the pandemic.

Continuing deterioration of the situation of food insecurity in India is a result of the Modi government's indifference and apathy towards the Indian people. Instead of recognising the  gravity of the economic crisis in general and agrarian crisis in particular faced by millions of people in India, and working to alleviate poverty and food insecurity in India, the Modi government's response has been to stop conducting surveys, reject all independent evidence and jail those who exposed the failure of the government. As it refuses to accept the worsening situation of unemployment, poverty and food insecurity in the country, the Modi government has steadily brought down welfare spending. It is relevant to remember that in the last budget, the central government had slashed the food subsidy by Rs 90,000 crores. Spending on other social welfare schemes was also cut drastically. For example, the allocation for MGNREGS was slashed by 30 per cent.

In the coming months, AIKS will rally the peasantry to defeat this anti-people government. The Modi government will be held accountable for its anti-people policies and the misery that it has inflicted upon the people.