Heights of Indians continue to reduce while Chinese gain on height

Statement of the 'World Food Trust' on latest Global Hunger Index report as per which India has dropped to 101 out of 116 countries
Heights of Indians continue to reduce while Chinese gain on height

Photo - billy cedeno from Pixabay

India has slipped to the 101st position among 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 from its 2020 ranking (94), to be placed behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. When the World Food Trust announced the seminar on "Sustainable Agriculture and India towards Total Food Security" about two months back, it was already aware, even though there were no figures than to substantiate it, of what havoc the two Covid-related lockdowns have caused on the pan-India basis, particularly in the rural areas.

In a Press Statement issued on 27 September 2021, the World Food Trust [WFT] had said, "No data is available of the havoc created by the two waves of Covid-19 which swept all of India. What is certain, though, is millions of mouths that were getting fed began starving for food as food supply chains disrupted, jobs were lost and economies collapsed the world over." Likewise, in an article uploaded on its News and Views Portal WorldFood, it was claimed, "Unfortunately, serious conversation on this most important subject is arguably yet to begin in India. The World Food Trust has taken the initiative and is going to set the ball rolling through a seminar: Sustainable Agriculture and India towards Total Food Security. The objective is also to generate significant action and progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainability in rural areas. The seminar hopes to succeed in identifying solutions and people and issuing a call for action at all levels of the agriculture, tourism, and food system, including national and local governments, companies, and citizens… A clear-cut agenda-focused and pin-pointed and result-oriented approach is the need of the hour. Hopefully, no further targets will be required to be made, after 2030, with hunger and malnourishment as the subjects. Call for action has been given since long; it is high time now to fasten the belts and take the much-needed plunge towards achieving a hunger-free and malnourishment-free India and the world."

There is no denying that the Indian Government did a remarkable job in initiating favorable policies, like free ration schemes, welfare schemes for farmers, etc. Some sections are not satisfied with the methodology used by the Global Hunger Index (GHI), which dropped India to the 101st position from the 94th in 2020 and are calling the report "shocking" and "devoid of ground reality".

However, whether we will be satisfied if we retain the 94th position, as it was in 2020, or remain somewhere in the 90s or 80s in the Global Hunger Index report list. Truth has to be looked in the eye, no matter how harsh it is, and only then will it be possible for us to find the remedy.

Global Hunger Index is a complex set of undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. Need of the hour is to initiate serious debate on immediate basis on what went wrong, to plan remedial steps if we have indeed fallen below, to learn from each other's experiences, to fix deadlines and to ponder and debate what are the steps that need to be taken to lead India towards meeting its total food security requirements by those deadlines; even so, if they appear to be baby-steps at the moment. Media, particularly the vernacular media, need to be sensitized towards the gravity of the problem, as they are reaching the masses at large. The target is not beyond reach; if we have been able to significantly reduce the childbirth mortality rate, it is possible to work on other challenges like starvation, undernourishment, child stunting, and child wasting, which are the chief factors resulted in our fall. It is the combination of these factors because India's average height is reducing by the day whereas the average height of Chinese citizens has increased successively over the years.

In the Seminar "Sustainable Agriculture and India towards Total Food Security", Yaroslavl Kolensnik, Second Secretary, the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of India, has been invited to present his views on what the country did to reach the enviable figure of number 1 on Global Hunger Index Rank, surpassing even the most developed countries in the world. Another invitee is Dalci de Jesus Bagolin, Agricultural Attaché, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, Embassy of Brazil in India, a country with a GHI score of less than five that has a level of hunger that is low. Brazil finds a place in one of the 18 countries with the best GHI score of less than 5. These countries are not assigned individual ranks but are collectively ranked 1–18 out of the 116 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2021 GHI scores. Differences between their scores are minimal. The seminar will also be showcasing the experiences and success stories of several States in India in their respective areas of achievements. For instance, Vinod Seshan, Project Director, Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services (ARIAS) will speak on Assam's initiatives in agribusiness and rural transformation. Dr Poonam Malakondaiah, Special Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh, will speak on how the state of Andhra Pradesh could get the distinction of being India's first Zero Budget Natural Farming state. BK Dikshit, Commissioner Karnataka State Department of Agriculture (KSDA) will present the innovations and changes brought about in Karnataka to develop agriculture, whereas Sampath Kumar, chief executive officer, Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA) will be presenting a case study on how the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion (IBDLP) in the state of Meghalaya is helping to rejuvenate the local water capacity and empower entrepreneurial capacity all across the State. Attempts will be made to learn from each other's achievements, success stories, and even failures to develop a blueprint for execution on a national level.

Ashok Dalwai, chief executive officer, National Rain Fed Area Authority, will be chairing a panel "Increasing the farmer's income: trends and agenda-setting; opportunities & challenges". He will be accompanied by T Vijay Kumar (IAS retired), Executive Vice Chairman, Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (A Govt. Corporation for Farmers' Empowerment), and, Ex Officio Spl Chief Secretary to Govt (Natural Farming) Agriculture and Cooperation Dept, Govt of AP and Arun Singhal, chief executive officer, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), who will be playing a key role on our path to meeting India's food security and safety requirements.

Also on the speaker's list is G Asok Kumar, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Water Mission, who will shed light on ways and means to improve water harvesting and irrigation systems under the title "Sahi Fasal and catch the rain".

Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) will focus on the subject of Water Resources Management in the Ganges Basin while the need for Food technology, food processing, value addition, food fortifications, the supply chain will be highlighted by Dr. Chindi Vasudevappa, VC-NIFTEM.

The importance of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is paramount when creating systems and standards for the food and agriculture industry. Pramod Kumar Tiwari will highlight BIS's role vis a vis developing Sustainable Agriculture practices in India.

No progress and development is possible without the various organizations, academicians, think tanks and the private sector. World Food Trust has tried to bring in representations from all these fields. Key speakers will include Dr Arvind Kumar, Governor – World Water Council and Founder President - India Water Foundation; Sanjiv Lal, managing director and chief executive officer, Rallis India; Dr Alok Adholeya, Program Director Sustainable Agriculture & Director TERI Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre at TERI - the Energy and Resources Institute; Prof. Amlan Bhushan, Director, Global Outreach, India, China & America Institute and Aziz Haider, Editor, worldfood.in, a news and views portal promoted by the World Food Trust.

Parshottam Rupala, Hon'ble Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, will inaugurate the seminar.

Aziz Haider, Head of Communications at the World Food Trust, said, "Prevalence of undernourishment and moderate and severe food insecurity are globally-accepted indicators of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Serious conversation on this most important subject is arguably yet to begin in India. Covid-19 has thrashed all the calculations and targets that we might have made prior to it. The need of the hour today is not just to assess the problem areas but to move towards finding a result-oriented approach towards crisis mitigation post-Covid and to lead India towards achieving SDGs prior to 2030. Through the seminar 'Sustainable Agriculture and India towards Total Food Security', we hope to arrive at a concrete approach towards achieving the desired targets."

He further added, "The objective is also to generate significant action and progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainability in rural areas. The seminar hopes to succeed in identifying solutions, people and issuing a call for action at all levels of the agriculture, tourism, food system, including central and state governments, companies and citizens."

The target is not beyond reach. Systematic result-oriented time-bound approach coupled with a sincere will-power is the need of the hour.

For any further information, please contact Aziz Haider, Head Media Communications & Social Media on 7999466000; worldfoodtrust@gmail.com

You can also email or text to receive a virtual link to the seminar.

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