Close to a billion people – one-eighth of the world’s population – still live in hunger. Each year 2 million children die through malnutrition. This is happening at a time when doctors in Britain are warning of the spread of obesity only to reiterate the fact how much we are eating while others starve to death (consequently?!).

Let’s, for a moment, not fall into the fallacies of fabricated words. As a way of progressing statistically, it is imperative to note that ‘all surveys’ indicate that India is slipping into a vicious cycle of malnutrition. Scientists say the initial thousand days of an individual’s lifespan, from the day of conception till s(he) turns two, is crucial for physical and cognitive development. But more than half the women of childbearing age are anemic and 33 percent are undernourished, according to NFHS 2006. Alex Comfort rightly pointed out that we may eventually come to realize that chastity is no more a virtue than malnutrition. To put it across quite literally, there is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.

Let us progress and unravel the conundrum step by step. What exactly is the Global Hunger Index? (GHI)

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is an international tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. They help raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger and provide a way to compare levels of hunger among countries.

The GHI is based on four indicators namely Undernourishment, Child wasting, Child stunting, and Child mortality. And with this being established, it is no surprise that India’s ranking slips to 103 among 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index!

What is striking is that even people who are that poor are just like the rest of us in almost every way. We have the same desires and weaknesses; the poor are no less rational than anyone else—quite the contrary. Precisely because they have so little, we often find them putting much careful thought into their choices: They have to be sophisticated economists just to survive. Yet our lives are as different as liquor and licorice. And this has a lot to do with aspects of our own lives that we take for granted and hardly ponder upon logically.

It is quintessential to note that there can be no real growth without healthy populations. No sustainable development without tackling disease and malnutrition. No international security without assisting crisis-ridden countries. And no hope for the spread of freedom, democracy, and human dignity unless we treat health as a basic human right.

What is more surprising is that in a world that we know can feed itself, over and above 40,000 children die every day from conditions of malnutrition. Surely we must question why we are allowing this carnage to continue? We require a constant affirmation and radical thinking as to how to battle the ripple effect of poverty that aggregates the combined effect of Poverty with Hunger. It’s a clear demonstration of societal inequalities, unmatched underdevelopment and a steep decline in the Happiness Index as well. The dual scourge of hunger and malnutrition will be truly vanquished not only when granaries are full, but also when people’s basic health needs are met and women are given the ‘due’ consideration in societies.

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