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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Global Hunger Index 2021 rankings show a serious level of hunger and food insecurity in India. In this context, it is imperative that India take holistic measures to deal with the issue of food insecurity. (250 Words)

    02 Nov, 2021 GS Paper 2 Social Justice


    • Start with writing about the Global Hunger Index 2021 and India’s performance.
    • Discuss the reasons for the poor performance of India in maintaining the food and nutritional security.
    • Suggest measures to deal with the issue of food insecurity.
    • Conclude suitably.


    India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th. It is calculated on the basis of four indicators:

    • Undernourishment: Share of the population with insufficient caloric intake.
    • Child Wasting: Share of children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
    • Child Stunting: Share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.
    • Child Mortality: The mortality rate of children under the age of five.


    Reasons for the poor performance -

    • Impact of Pandemic: Various survey estimates that there were about 43 crore of moderate to severe food-insecure people in India in 2019 which increase to 52 crore by 2020 as a result of the pandemic-related disruptions
      • In terms of prevalence rates, this food insecurity increased from about 31.6% in 2019 to 38.4% in 2021.
      • The long standing problems of unemployment, inflation, informal sector employment and economic slowdown were aggravated in 2020 due to lack of preparation to deal with the pandemic.
    • Inadequate Distribution of Food through PDS: Deserving beneficiaries of the subsidy are excluded on the basis of non-ownership of below poverty line (BPL) status, as the criterion for identifying a household as BPL is arbitrary and varies from state to state.
    • Lack of access to remote areas: For the tribal communities, habitation in remote difficult terrains and practice of subsistence farming has led to significant economic backwardness.
    • Corruption: Diverting the grains to the open market to get better margin, selling poor quality grains at ration shops, irregular opening of the shops add to the issue of food insecurity.

    Way Forward

    • Regular Monitoring of Food Security: 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.
    • Enlarging the Scope of Food Security Schemes: Universalising the access to the Public Distribution System and One Nation One Ration Card scheme (ONORC), at least during the pandemic.
      • The PDS should be strengthened and the food basket can be enlarged to include millets, pulses and oil.
        • This may certainly help in addressing the issue of hidden hunger.
      • Everyone, irrespective of whether they have a ration card or not, should be allowed to take subsidised grain from ration shops.
    • Bringing Development and Humanitarian Policies Together: Integrating humanitarian, development and peacebuilding policies in required areas to prevent families from selling meagre assets in exchange for food.
    • Lowering the Cost of Nutritious Food: Intervening along supply chains to lower the cost of nutritious foods such as by encouraging the production of biofortified crops or making it easier for fruit and vegetable growers to access markets.


    Right to food is not only a statutory right but also a human right. As a state party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, India has the obligation to ensure the right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food for all of its citizens.

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