Tweets Misleadingly Compare India's Global Hunger Index 2022 Rank Across Years
The makers of the index have repeatedly stated in the index documentation that the scores and ranks cannot be compared across years
Social media posts comparing India's score and rank drop on the annual Global Hunger Index 2022, and the country's poor performance in the present year of the index, as compared to the previous few years under the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, are misleading.
The posts are viral in the backdrop of this year's GHI released on October 15, where India has ranked 107 out of 121 countries on this year's index (GHI). The posts are directly comparing India's rank this year with that in 2022, when India ranked 55th, stating that the incumbent government has worsened India's hunger situation.
Due to difference in the countries taken into account, the methodology and data sources going into the index, the makers of the index have repeatedly stated within the document that the scores (and ranks) cannot be credibly compared across years. Comparison of scores can only be made with some select reference years. For 2022, the reference years are 2000, 2007 and 2014.
However, a comparison of scores and ranks across different within the same year can be made.
With a score of 29.1 the report terms the situation of hunger in India as "serious". However, the data also show that India has fallen 9.7 points, or 25%, since 2000, which signals an improvement.
In the annual index designed to assess hunger at the global, national and regional level, countries are given a score between 0 (the best attainable score) and 100 (the worst attainable score). The report detailing the rankings is published annually by the Concern Worldwide, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Welthungerhilfe, a German non-governmental organisation.
In this year's report, India ranks below China (ranked 1-18th with a score of less than 5), Pakistan (ranked 99th, with a score of 26.17), Bangladesh (ranked 84th with a score of 19.9), Sri Lanka (ranked 64th with a score of 13.6) and Myanmar (ranked 71st with a score of 15.6) but higher than Afghanistan (ranked 109rd, with a score of 29.9).
The misleading tweets on India's GHI score can be seen below.
Rankings Cannot Be Compared From Previous Reports
Page 13 of the report that has the table with the reference years states:
As always, rankings and index scores from this table cannot be accurately compared to rankings and index scores from previous reports
The reason behind the data being incomparable across years is due to the nature of the data constantly being improved by the agencies of the United Nations that compile them. The data presented each year reflects these changes.
"Comparing scores between reports may create the impression that hunger has changed positively or negatively in a specific country from year to year, whereas in some cases the change may partly or fully reflect a data revision", the report states. It also states that there was a revision in methodology in 2015. This is the reason behind why many countries have a higher score post 2015 as compared to 2014 and before, adding that there may be revisions to the methodology in the future.
As in the past, these reports have provided three reference years to compare this year's score to, so as the measure the progress of a country through time.
How is the score calculated?
The index is calculated across three dimension and four indicators under them.
Like the main score, they are all standardised to a score between 0 (best possible score) to 100 (worst possible score) and aggregated.
The data underlying the score show:
- Child mortality: The under-five mortality rate, for which India's ratio is 3.3% in 2020
- Prevalence of stunting: 35.5% from 2017 - 2021 in India, showing the prevalence of stunting in children under the age of five
- Child wasting: On which India's ratio is 19.3% from 2017 - 2021, the highest among all studied countries
- Undernourishment: Refers to the entire population and an indicator of hunger corresponding to 16.3% of the population in India from 2019 to 2021
BOOM has previously factchecked claims referring to prior GHI scores in 2021, 2019 and 2018.
Government refutes GHI
The government has issued a statement on the GHI, calling it "a consistent effort is yet again visible to taint India's image as a Nation that does not fulfill the food security and nutritional requirements of its population". It has also routinely disagreed with the index before.
It called the index erroneous and full of methodological issues.
The government argues that out of the four indicators making up the index, only undernourishment is actually a factor directly pertaining to hunger. Further, it criticises the index does not take into account mass food distributions programs like the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana - or any other grassroot level program for that matter.
The statement also raises an issue with the Food and Agricultural Organisation survey, whose responses form the basis of the measure for undernourishment; arguing that an "opinion poll" (as the statement calls it) of 3000 respondents does not do justice to India and is biased. The statement issued by the Press Information Bureau can be read here.
This is not the first iteration of the GHI that has drawn the ire of the government. It has used the same arguments to disagree with previous versions of the GHI too.
The GHI 2022 can be found here.
Also Read: From Hunger To Press Freedom: Global Reports The Govt Disagrees With
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