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  • 30 Jul 2022 GS Paper 3 Economy

    Day 20: Amid the global food crisis, India has emerged as the friend in need for a number of food-insecure countries. Explain. (250 words)

    Approach
    • Give some data related to Global Hunger Scenario.
    • Discuss which countries India help during food crisis.
    • Describe the status of India in Global Food Hunger Index and the reasons behind it.
    • Conclude suitably.

    Answer:

    Global hunger is on the rise, driven by the climate crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic shocks, conflicts, poverty, and inequality. Amid the global food crisis, India has emerged as the friend in need for a number of food-insecure countries fulfilling its notion of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. In the past decades, India has transformed from requiring assistance to providing aid to several countries.

    In 2019, 650 million people around the world suffered from chronic hunger. Since the onset of the pandemic, the number of people on the brink of starvation has doubled from 135 million people (pre-Covid) a year ago to 270 million. More people are living in hunger than in 2015 when the member states of the United Nations, including India, agreed to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

    The global burden of malnutrition remains enormous, with almost 150 million children stunted, nearly 50 million wasted, and every other child (and two billion adults) suffering from micronutrient deficiencies.

    The concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (meaning ‘Earth is One Family’) from India’s traditional philosophical outlook describes how different nations form one collective and cannot escape the common connection of concern and humanity.

    Indian Humanitarian assistance to other countries

    • Afghanistan: India’s humanitarian food assistance to Afghanistan, through the UN World Food Programme (UN WFP) is an example of its commitment and commendable steps towards humanitarian crises. India, as per its commitment, is sending 50,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of food assistance in the form of wheat to Afghanistan, through Pakistan. Considering that half the population of Afghanistan is projected to be acutely food insecure in 2022 including 8.7 million at risk of famine-like conditions, this assistance was extremely important.
    • Africa and the Middle East/West Asia: In the past two years, India has also provided aid to several countries in Africa and the Middle East/West Asia to overcome natural calamities and the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • Sri Lanka: As Sri Lanka grapples with a massive economic crisis, India handed over a large amount of humanitarian assistance consignment worth over Rs 2 billion which comprises 9,000 metric tons of rice, and 50 metric tons of milk powder, coupled with over 25 metric tons of drugs and other pharmaceutical supplies.
    • Ukraine: Amid the Ukraine-Russia conflict, India handed over 7,725 kg of humanitarian aid comprising essential medicines and medical equipment to Ukraine.

    Status of India in terms of Food Sufficiency

    • Since the Green Revolution, India has made enormous progress in food production with an inspiring journey towards self-sufficiency in food production. In 2020, India produced over 300 million tonnes of cereals and had built up a food stock of 100 million tonnes.
    • In 2021, India exported a record 20 million tonnes of rice and wheat.
    • The period between 1991 to 2015 saw the diversification of agriculture beyond field crops and brought greater focus on the horticulture, dairy, animal husbandry, and fishery sectors.

    India’s own Hunger Scenario

    • Food and Agriculture Report, 2018 stated that India houses 195.9 million of the 821 million undernourished people in the world, accounting for approximately 24% of the world’s hungry.
    • Moreover, the most alarming figure revealed is that approximately 4500 children die every day under the age of five years in the country due to hunger and malnutrition, amounting to over three lakh deaths every year, owing to hunger, of children alone.
    • India slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th.

    Reasons behind India gives humanitarian assistance to other countries

    • Towards Global Peace: Humanitarian food assistance and partnerships that help create robust policy innovations by way of food safety nets and resilient livelihoods, will contribute towards global peace.
    • India-WFP Partnership: As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, the WFP, and India, as the largest democracy, can leverage this partnership to contribute to addressing food emergencies and strengthening humanitarian response.
    • Eradicating Hunger from the Country: Although India’s efforts in assisting other countries are commendable, it is also important to take a look at India's own problems of hunger.

    The government needs to ensure early disbursement of funds and optimum utilisation of funds in schemes linked to nutrition. The sharp increase in food insecurity points to an urgent need for the government to establish systems for regular monitoring of the food security situation in the country. Also, the proper implementation of schemes regarding health, water, sanitation etc. is equally important as nutrition goes beyond just the availability of food.

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