Hunger in India


The Indian map showing "Hunger Index" values in different states. Excerpted from the IFPRI Report at:

Here is an analysis of the problem of hunger in India:

I quote the key findings of the report:

  • India’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2008 score is 23.7, which gives it a rank of 66th out of 88 countries. This score indicates continued poor performance at reducing hunger in India.
  • The India State Hunger Index (ISHI) 2008 was constructed in a similar fashion as the GHI 2008 to allow for comparisons of states within India and for comparisons of Indian states to GHI 2008 scores and ranks for other countries.
  • The ISHI 2008 score was estimated for 17 major states in India, covering more than 95 percent of the population of India.
  • ISHI 2008 scores for Indian states range from 13.6 for Punjab to 30.9 for Madhya Pradesh, indicating substantial variability among states in India. Punjab is ranked 34th when compared with the GHI 2008 country rankings, and Madhya Pradesh is ranked 82nd.
  • All 17 states have ISHI scores that are significantly worse than the “low” and “moderate” hunger categories. Twelve of the 17 states fall into the “alarming” category, and one—Madhya Pradesh—falls into the “extremely alarming” category.
  • ISHI scores are closely aligned with poverty, but there is little association with state-level economic growth. High levels of hunger are seen even in states that are performing well from an economic perspective.
  • Inclusive economic growth and targeted strategies to ensure food sufficiency, reduce child mortality, and improve child nutrition are urgent priorities for all states in India

I hope these statistics opens the eyes of the average urban Indian to the real problems facing our country. I wonder if it surprises the many chic city-dwelling nouve riche that there are far more serious problems in India than threats to people’s liberty to indulge in public displays of affection. From my experience, I believe that urban middle class India is largely ignorant (whether incidentally or deliberately) of the real problems of the people.  I’ll try my best not to sound like a communist or whateverist-

But the reality is that the average 8 am-to-8 pm-working, upwardly mobile middle class citizen is like Prince Siddhartha in the legend of The Buddha. Remember how Prince Siddhartha was allegedly blissfully ignorant of suffering, before a now famous outing in his chariot opened his eyes to the real world? What the average-middle-class-upwardly-mobile person needs is a similar opening of his/her sun-shade hidden eyes. The poor little rich kids deserve more reality than just beggar children sticking noses at car windows in traffic junctions.

So, a few propositions… Have you seen these days- in the main plaza of the gawdy new malls, there is often a DJ/VJ/RJ doing a road show of sorts, peddling chances to win bikes, cars, ipods, and whatnots to the nouve-riche mall hoppers. The purpose of the road show would be to promote the latest movies, music channels, watches, etc. etc. – Playthings to keep those upwardly mobiles happy.

How about having road shows in malls with VJs/RJs/DJs with sophisticated drawls talking about such issues as the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition? I wonder how the mall-goers will digest such serious topics with their big fat McChickens. At least by having such a thing inside a hip mall, you will be forcing important issues down the throat of the average 21st century urban Indian. How about splicing images of hunger into reality shows and fairness cream ads? And inserting fliers about hunger, malnutrition and illiteracy into the monthly issues of Vogue India, next to neat Gucci and Louis Vuitton ads?

Photograph courtesy: New York Times

Photograph courtesy: Ruth Fremson/New York Times

Photograph courtesy: Ruth Fremson/New York Times

Photograph courtesy: Ruth Fremson/New York Times

Oh and, if you prefer watching videos to reading:



Also, someone said: “Shut up and vote!” . I echo.

6 responses to “Hunger in India

  1. I love the analogy [and the necessity] of Siddhartha’s eye-opening chariot ride 🙂

  2. How does voting online help reduce hunger??? Is this not a stunt played by some wannabe’s??

  3. @Gowtham: have you seen the mall culture in Bangalore lately?

    @Tuka: Lei, Jaago Re is a campaign for voter registration among the urban youth. So what I meant was that urban youth should participate more in democracy, and that participation requires that they are aware of the real problems facing the country.

  4. Yes Sir, but only minimalistic experience – the last time I was in Bangalore [Aug/Sep 2006], it shocked me to a great extent. To see that the city had ‘grown up’ so much [beyond repair] was disturbing.

    May be it’s my own fault, in that I didn’t grow with it during 2002-06. But if Bangalore could speak, it would probably be saying similar things about me too.

    All kidding aside, what hurts me the most is the ease with which folks pick up trends from other parts of the world [which are only easy to do and looks glamorous]. Media should take some blame in my opinion – they [most of the time, in prime time] portray [semi/nude] beach bodies & glamor, instead of mixing in a healthy proportion of hard working grad students and scientists and artists.

  5. Apparently, we’re eating up all the food in the world :D. George W Bush, take a bow.

  6. @Chikkadi: Well, not just Bush, many people in the western media still believe that the food crisis is partly caused by the “growing middle class in India and China” buttressed by “research that supports the fact that as people’s incomes raise, they consume more dairy and meat”. For many many years, a billion hungry people in the developing/underdeveloped world weren’t an issue, overnight, a McBurger costs 25 cents more and people have the audacity to say something as ridiculous as blaming the developing world for it! I cannot help but interpreting their statement as: “I’d rather pay 50 cents less than save the lives of millions of undernourished people.”

    It is not too dangerous if it happens in a country such as the US… But when such indifference to the real, serious issues becomes endemic in our own cities, where the youth increasingly imbibe the worst of Western thought and society, it is alarming to say the least! 😦

    @Gowtham: We are all glad we didn’t grow with Bangalore, post Siliconization. It evolved from a happy socialist paradise, with lots of people employed in public sector industries… into a typical, characterless city of gross materialism.

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