Has India’s Global Hunger Index ranking fallen from 55 in 2014 to 102 in 2019? A fact-check

According to the latest Global Hunger Index (2019), India ranks a lowly 102 out of 117 nations, categorized as a nation with ‘serious’ levels of hunger. India’s GHI score stands at 30.3, a marginal improvement over the previous year (31.1). Notwithstanding the fact that this is cause for concern, some sections commenting on the result have claimed that India’s ranking has slipped dramatically since 2014 when it ranked as high as 55, subsequently plummeting to 80 in 2015, 97 in 2016, 100 in 2017 and 103 to 2018.

The above tweet is by Surjya Kanta Mishra, a CPI(M) leader from West Bengal. Prakash Ambedkar tweeted the same, claiming India’s “rank was 55, only 5 years ago”.

On Facebook too, a similar claim has been made – India’s ranking dropped sharply from 55 in 2014 to 103 in 2018.

India’s Global Hunger Index…
2011: 67th rank
2012: 66th rank
2013: 63rd rank
2014: 55th rank (Anpadh arrives)
2015: 80th rank
2016: 97th rank
2017: 100th rank
2018: 103rd rank
2019: Awaited

#VIKAS

Posted by Rajiv Tyagi on Sunday, October 13, 2019

How true is this claim, that India has fared drastically worse since 2014 insofar as combating hunger is concerned?

FACT-CHECK

Alt News has found this claim, of India’s rank plummeting from 55 in 2014 to 102 in 2019, to be incorrect. This is due to the difference in methodology of tabulation followed by the index since 2015. Until 2014, countries which had a GHI score of less than 5 (lesser the score, better the performance) were placed not in the main table but in an additional table, in which 44 countries were placed. The GHI index, 2014 is posted below.

As can be seen in the right column, ‘Countries with 2014 GHI score less than 5’ have been placed separately, and do not form part of the rankings presented in the main table. A similar table was present in the 2015 GHI report, wherein 13 nations with GHI score less than 5 were placed separately. However, from 2016, the nations with GHI score below 5 were placed in the main table, thus causing a drastic shift in the rankings of nations. India’s ranking had dropped thus from 55 in 2014 to 97 in 2016.

It is noteworthy that while in 2014, 44 nations were listed in the ‘GHI score under 5’ category. This dropped to merely 13 in 2015. A probable explanation in this regard is a revision of the formula for calculating the GHI score, introduced in 2015. This is the likely factor behind India’s rank dropping from 55 in 2014 to 80 in 2015.

The table for 2019 is presented below. As can be seen, countries with GHI score less than 5 (17 in number) are placed in the main table, and form the top ranking among the nations surveyed.

Simply put, if the nations with GHI score less than 5, were placed in the main table prior to 2016, then India’s rank in 2014 would have been 55+44=99, and its 2015 rank would be 80+13=93.

In fact, the GHI reports have categorically stated, “Rankings and index scores from this table cannot be accurately compared to rankings and index scores from previous reports.”

MISINFORMATION REGARDING INDIA’S GHI RANK

In 2018, some media organizations had falsely reported that India’s ranking in the GHI index had slipped from 55 in 2014 to 103 in 2018.

The same misinformation was spread in 2017 as well, through mainstream media reports as well as social media posts.

INDIA’S PERFORMANCE SINCE 2015

How has India fared since 2015, when the revised formula for calculating the GHI score was introduced? India’s performance over the past five years is presented below in tabular format, with the GHI score and rank for every year from 2015 to 2019.

YEARGHI SCORE OF INDIARANK
201417.855/76
201529.080/104
201628.597/118
201731.4100/119
201831.1103/119
201930.3102/117

As can be seen, in 2015, the GHI score was 29.0 which improved to 28.5 in 2016. The following year, there was a plunge, with the score at 31.4. This improved subsequently to 31.1 in 2018 and 30.3 in 2019. Please note that the higher the score, poorer the performance.

GHI PERFORMANCE IN 2019

While India’s performance has improved marginally from 2017 and 2018, the country’s position is categorized as ‘serious‘. Moreover, India lags behind other South Asian nations including Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. A disturbing indicator is the ‘prevalence of wasting in children under five years’, the proportion of which has increased in India over the past decade.

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