Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        
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You might not feel it in the belly, but it strikes at the core of health and vitality” UNICEF


Hunger is defined by the United Nations as the period when people experienced severe food insecurity—meaning that they go for entire days without eating due to lack of money, access to food, or other resources. Poverty and hunger are the two sides of same coin.

Hunger in India: Data Facts

  • Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022: India ranked at 107th out of 121 countries with a score of 29.1 putting India in the "serious" category.
  • Rank and score: India ranks 107 out of 121 countries on the GHI and a score of 29.1 places it in the ‘serious’ category.
    • India’s child wasting rate: 19.3% (worse than earlier levels recorded in 2014 (15.1%) and 2000 (17.15)) is the highest for any country in the world.
    • Prevalence of undernourishment: Increased from 14.6% in 2018-2020 to 16.3% in 2019-2021. Thus, 224.3 million people in India are considered undernourished. 
    • Child stunting: Declined from 38.7% to 35.5% between 2014 and 2022.
    • Child mortality: Dropped from 4.6% to 3.3% between 2014 and 2022.
  • State of Food Security and Nutrition Report: India's undernourished population decreased from 247.8 million in 2004-2006 to 224.3 million in 2019–21.
    • It stated that the number of stunted children under the age of 5 decreased from 52.3 million in 2012 to 36.1 million in 2020, and the number of overweight children under the age of 5 decreased from 3 million in 2012 to 2.2 million in 2020.
  • Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Study: Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, and Assam have the highest levels of hunger and malnutrition, leading to faster deaths.
    • Over and undernutrition, imbalances in energy, protein, and other nutrient intakes are common in children.

Causes of Hunger

Government Initiatives to tackle Hunger Issue


Hunger Alleviation Programs in India


Eat Right India Movement

Outreach activity by FSSAI to promote healthy eating habits

POSHAN Abhiyan

Aims to reduce stunting, undernutrition, and anaemia among children and women

Mid-day Meal (MDM) scheme

Improves nutritional levels among school children, promoting enrolment, retention, and attendance

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

Maternity benefit program for pregnant women

Food Fortification

Addition of key vitamins and minerals to staple foods to enhance nutritional content

National Food Security Act, 2013

Entitles a percentage of the population to receive subsidized food grains

Mission Indra Dhanush

Immunization program targeting children under 2 years and pregnant women against 12 diseases

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme

Offers services to children (0-6 years), pregnant women, and lactating mothers

Eliminating Hunger: Sustainable Development Goal 2 is about creating a world free of hunger by 2030.

Way ahead

  • Doubling the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples.
  • Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research.
  • Effective Implementation of Govt schemes. E.g., Portability of ration cards, Computerization of PDS, etc.
  • Innovation: Nutri Gardens in schools, community places
  • Role of Civil Society: Organizations like Akhshay Patra foundations, Kudumbshree have important role to play in ending hunger from the
  • Technology in Agriculture: The use of technology in agriculture, such as remote sensing, drones, and precision farming, optimizes resource utilization, monitors crop health, and improves productivity.
  • PDS Reforms: Ongoing reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS), like digitized ration cards and Aadhaar-based authentication, improve efficiency, reduce leakages, and ensure food reaches the right beneficiaries. These reforms utilize technology for accurate record-keeping, transparency, and real-time tracking of food supplies.
  • Climate Change and Food Security: Climate change impacts food security, necessitating climate-resilient practices. Strategies like water management, crop diversification, and climate-smart agriculture mitigate climate change effects, safeguard productivity, and ensure food security.
  • International Collaboration: International collaboration and partnerships, exemplified by India's involvement in initiatives like the WFP, are crucial in addressing hunger and malnutrition. Supporting other countries in achieving food security strengthens global efforts and promotes sustainable development.


Even though concerted efforts are going on to fulfill SDG 2 which calls for zero hunger, it is time for a focused approach towards combating malnutrition to reach the Global Nutrition targets by 2025 (WHO) and build a thriving and productive human capital.