The road to zero hunger by 2030, Global Hunger Index (GHI) : Hunger in India

GS 2 GOVERNANCE,SOCIAL JUSTICE Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Introduction 

          The food agencies of the United Nations (UN) pledge to work together to end hunger, eradicate food insecurity and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 in 2030.

Food system:

  • It is a framework that includes every aspect of feeding and nourishing people: from 
    • growing
    • harvesting
    • processing to packaging
    • transporting
    • marketing
    • consuming food.
  • As countries begin to develop and implement COVID-19 recovery plans, it is also an opportunity to adopt innovative solutions based on scientific evidence.
    • they can build back better and make food systems more resilient and sustainable.

Importance:

  • the FAO celebrating 75 years of fighting hunger in over 130 countries.
  • IFAD becoming the first UN agency to receive a credit rating.
  • The WFP being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace this year

Global Hunger Index (GHI):

Context: India ranked 94 in the Global Hunger Index 2020 among 107 countries – based on four indicators:

  • Countries with score within the range 20-34.9 are considered to be dealing with acute hunger.
  • In 2019, India had a food stock of more than 68 million tonnes in the central pool.
    • the food stock went up to 70 million tonnes by 2020.

Theories:

  1. Amartya Sen introduced ‘exchange entitlement decline’ as a reason for starvation and famines.
    1. means the occupation,a section of people is engaged in is not financially rewarding enough to buy adequate food.
    1. due to the adverse shift in the exchange value of endowments (Money) for food.
  2. Sen’s theory, the starvation is the result of a decline in four categories of entitlement:
  3. ‘Production-based entitlement’ (growing food)
  4. ‘Trade-based entitlement’ (buying food)
  5. ‘Own-labour entitlement’ (working for food)
  6. ‘Inheritance and transfer entitlement’ (being given food by others)

Situation in India:

  • Food supply chain:
    • India has gone from being a net importer to a net exporter of food grains.
    • Central and State governments were able to distribute around 23 million tonnes from India’s large domestic food grain reserves through the Public Distribution System.
      • mobilised food rations for 820 million people from April to November 2020
      • finding alternate solutions to provide food rations to 90 million school children.
    • National lockdown imposed in March, there were efforts to remove bottlenecks in the food supply chain.
      • due to restrictions on movements.
      • to ensure that agricultural activities weren’t disrupted.
    • Agriculture grew at 3.4% during the first quarter this financial year.
    • the area cultivated this kharif exceeded 110 million hectares.

Challenges:

  • Malnutrition:
    • Even as malnutrition in India has declined over the past decade(Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18)
      • over 40 million children are chronically malnourished
      • more than half of Indian women aged 15-49 years are anaemic.
    • Climate change continues to be a real and potent threat to agrobiodiversity
      • which will impact everything from productivity to livelihoods across food and farm systems.
      • climate-related shocks made it difficult for farmers to deal with pest and locust attacks, as well as floods and cyclones.
      • Intensified food production systems with excessive use of chemicals and unsustainable farming practices cause 
  • soil degradation
  • fast depletion of groundwater table
  • rapid loss of agro-biodiversity.
  • One-third of the food is wasted:
    • increase in fragmentation of landholdings.
    • more than 86% farmers have less than two hectares of land contributing 
    • 60% of the total food grain production
    • over half the country’s fruits and vegetables.
  • Small and Marginal farmers:
    • 50 million households in India are dependent on these small and marginal holdings.
    • do not produce enough food grains for their consumption around the year.
  • Income decline:
    • Relative income of one section of people has been on the decline.
      • has adverse effects on their capacity to buy adequate food.
  • Unemployment:
    • Lack of income opportunities other than the farm sector. 
      • has contributed heavily to the growing joblessness in rural areas. 
    • The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-18 
      • rural unemployment – 6.1%(which was the highest since 1972-73.)
  • MGNREGA:
    • a major rural job program, had been weakened over the years.
      • delays in payments and non-payments
      • low wages
      • reduced scope of employment due to high bureaucratic control.
  • PDS inefficiency:
    • is not functioning well or is not accessible to everyone.

Government measures adopted:

  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY): 
    • launched as a part of Atmanirbhar Bharat in March amid COVID pandemic.
    • as a relief package to prevent hunger and poverty.  
    • Under this scheme, eligible families are provided with 
      • 5 kg free wheat/rice per person/month 
      • 1 kg free whole chana to each family per month.
  • Public Distribution System (TPDS):  
    • A modified version of PDS launched in 2017 is TPDS. 
    • aims at food security and poverty alleviation via provisions for essential commodities
    • to the beneficiaries identified based on the inclusion and exclusion criterion.
  • Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) – 
    • Bottom most 2.5 crores BPL families 
    • 35 kg of rice at Rs. 3/kg
    • wheat at Rs. 2/kg through the same Fair Price Shops.
    • Senior citizens of 65 years of age (if not covered under the National Old Age Pension Scheme )are provided 10 kg of food grains at free of cost.
  • National Food Security Act, 2013: 
    • gives a legal right to subsidized food grains to about 67% of the population
    • provides for penalty for non-compliance by public servants with special provisions related to children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
    • aimed at improving the nutritional and health status of children between 0 to 6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme: 
    • aimed at improving the nutritional status of school-going children 
    • simultaneously enhancing enrollment, retention and attendance
  • National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan): 
    • India’s flagship program launched in 2018 
    • It is based on the NITI Aayog’s recommendations under the National Nutrition strategy.
    • to improve nutritional standards 
    • among children and women by reducing the level of 
      • stunting
      • underweight
      • anaemia
      • low birth weight by 2022. 

Way Forward

  • A renewed focus on small and marginal farmers 
    • with support from the Union government
    • to grow more crops is a necessity.
  • The government may create provisions to supply cooked nutritious food to the vulnerable section of society
    • through a model of cheap canteens.
      • Example; Jadavpur Jyotidevi Shramajeevi Canteen in West Bengal has been running for more than 200 days.
  • MGNREGA should be given a boost to increase employment and wages.
  • Access to food grains under the PDS needs to be streamlined by simplifying technical processes and reducing Aadhaar-related glitches.
  • One Nation One Ration Card scheme: After the point-of-sale machines are made available at all the public distribution system (PDS) shops across the country, the scheme will be launched.
    • will help people, especially migrant workers, who can avail the benefits of this scheme.

Conclusion         

We must all work in concert to make sure that our food systems nourish a growing population and sustain the planet, together.

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