Welthungerhilfe (WHH), a German NGO and co-publisher of the Global Hunger Index (GHI) -- a peer reviewed report on hunger and malnutrition -- has refuted New Delhi's claim that India's fall in ranking was based on an opinion poll conducted by Gallup. The government on Friday made the allegation after India's ranking dropped seven places in the GHI report that was released last week. Out of 116 countries, India stands at 101 -- behind all neighboring countries except Afghanistan -- dropping from the 94th position out of 107 countries in 2020.
In an email to NDTV, WHH said that the Gallup opinion poll is not used by GHI, instead undernourishment is measured using data officially presented by India to the UN.
"Global Hunger Index uses only a 'prevalence of undernourishment' indicator... obtained through carefully constructed food balance sheets which are primarily based on data officially reported by the member countries including India," said Miriam Weimers, Advisor, Global Hunger Index.
Food Balance Sheets, according to the UN, "present a comprehensive picture of the pattern of a country's food supply" by tracking each commodity's sources of supply and utilization.
What decided India's case was the "extraordinarily high child wasting rate, which reflects deeper underlying issues such as child health, sanitation and hygiene, the health and empowerment of women," said Ms Weimers.
India slipped from its 2020 position of 94th while 18 countries, including China, Brazil and Kuwait, shared the top rank with a GHI score of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index that tracks hunger and malnutrition said on Thursday.
On Friday, the Centre had responded very strongly to the report, calling it "shocking" and "devoid of ground reality".
"The report completely disregards government's massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the Covid period, verifiable data on which are available. The opinion poll does not have a single question on whether the respondent received any food support from the government or other sources. The representativeness of even this opinion poll is doubtful for India and other countries," the government said.
"The Global Hunger Index is not a tool designed to assess and reflect individual measures taken by governments... GHI uses internationally recognized indicators set to measure progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations," said Ms Weimers.
"The report is peer reviewed by external experts. The methodology has long been established and tested," said Weimers.
Pointing out that they "welcome the recent debate," WHH said they would also like to "acknowledge" the measures taken by the government to offset the "tremendous challenges".