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Hunger: India worse off than Zimbabwe!

Last updated on: November 27, 2009 20:41 IST

Hunger: India worse off than Zimbabwe!

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Rediff Business Desk

There are now one billion hungry people on the globe, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said recently.

A statistic that is shameful and shocking at the same time. The global financial crisis too has led to a dramatic rise in hunger across the world.

Ban warned that the food crisis is a wake-up call for tomorrow since by 2050 the planet's population will be 9.1 billion people, over two billion more than today.

"This day, more than 17,000 children will die of hunger. One every five seconds! The world has more than enough food. Yet, today, more than one billion people are hungry," he said.

The Global Hunger Index 2009 says that countries that have scored between 20 and 30 points are in an alarming condition. The index ranked countries on a 100-point scale, with zero being the best score having no hunger and 100 being the worst.

The index measures global hunger by ranking countries on three leading indicators and combining them into one index. The three indicators are prevalence of child malnutrition, rates of child mortality, and the proportion of people who are calorie deficient.

Here is a list of some Asian countries hit by hunger and malnutrition, starting with India, and also the world's most hunger-ridden nations. . .

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Image: A slice of pizza is served at a pizzeria.
Photographs: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters
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India, Rank 65

According to the 2009 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 65th out of 88 countries, with a hunger rate of 23.9.

India, which was largely unaffected by the severe recession, however appears to have made little progress in tackling hunger and malnutrition issue.

The situation remains 'alarming' in the country on this front, according to the Global Hunger Index 2009.

Countries like Uganda (38th); Mauritania (40th); Zimbabwe (58th) and many others have a better record than India on this front. Even war-torn nations have managed to combat the scourge of hunger quite well, while India -- even though it boasts of being the second fastest growing economy in the world -- languishes far behind and millions in the country go hungry.

Almost 21 per cent of the Indian population was undernourished (between 2003 and 2005), 43.5 per cent Indian children under the age of five were underweight (between 2002 and 2007) and the under five-year-age infant mortality rate in 2007 was 7.2 per cent.


Image: A Hindu devotee lights lamps during Diwali festival in Amritsar.
Photographs: Munish Sharma/Reuters
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Syrian Arab Republic, Rank 1

With a hunger rate of 5.2 per cent, Syrian Arab Republic is one of the least hungry nations on the planet.

The Syrian economy's mainstays are oil and agriculture. It is a middle income country -- not rich, not poor -- but has been perennially plagued by the conflicts in West Asia.

The country is not highly industrialized, but is doing fairly well in the industry sectors. A booming tourism sector

Although the nation suffers from low investment, corruption, inefficiency and conflicts, it has managed to combat hunger very well.

In the 2nd spot is the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago with a hunger rate of 5.4; followed by Paraguay (5.6) and Suriname (5.6), both jointly in the third position.


Image: Members of a Syrian band watch a folkloric show during the second day of Hama city's Spring Festival celebrations in the historic Afamia city.
Photographs: Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters
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Hunger: India worse off than Zimbabwe!

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China, Rank 5

China has made phenomenal progress in fighting poverty and especially hunger. In 2008, it stood at the 15th spot with a hunger rate of 7.1 points. In 2009, it has jumped up to the 5th position with a hunger rate of 5.7, even though it has a huge population.

It shares the 5th spot with Colombia which also has a hunger rate of 5.7.

China's economy is among fastest growing in the world. It is fourth most visited countries in the world with 62 million inbound international visitors in 2008.

It is a member of the WTO and is the world's third largest trading power behind the US and Germany. It is among the world's favourite destination for foreign direct investment.

Morocco with a hunger rate of 5.8 stands 7th, followed by Georgia, with a rate of 6.1.


Image: A Chinese flag flies in front of the Great Wall of China.
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters
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Venezuela, Rank 8

Venezuela's hunger rate is 6.1 points, the same as Georgia, and it ranks 8th in the world in the list of least hungry nations.

Venezuela makes most of its money from petroleum. So much so that it's per capita income is $13,500. The country also has rich mineral resources, as also gold and diamond mines.

The country has some of the world's largest natural gas reserves.

Although almost 30 per cent of the nation's population is estimated to live on as less as $2 per day, Venezuela has largely won the battle against hunger.

Closely following Venezuela, are 10 El Salvador in the 10th position (6.2), Turkmenistan in 11th (6.3) and Mauritius in the 12th spot (6.7).


Image: Children wait after filling containers with water in the neighbourhood of Antimano in Caracas, Venezuela.
Photographs: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
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Sri Lanka, Rank 35

Sri Lanka, with a hunger rate of 13.7, ranks 35th, way ahead of India and Pakistan.

Sri Lanka has an agrarian economy and is heavily dependent on tourism too. Its most widely known export is tea.

The nation also has a booming export sector, with textiles exports being one of the mainstays of the economy. Fishing, petroleum, industry too add to the nation's economy.

Nepal ranks 55th in the list of hungry nations, but still performs much better than India or Pakistan. Even then Nepal's hunger rate is quite high at 19.8.


Image: A buddhist monk walks into a temple in Colombo.
Photographs: Zainal Abd Halim/Reuters
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Pakistan, Rank 58

Pakistan ranks 58, with a hunger rate of 21 points.

Pakistan's economic growth rate is much lower than India's, but the Asian nation seems to have done better than its neighbour at curbing hunger.

The Pakistani economy is mainly agrarian in nature, although the services sector has been rising rapidly in the last few years.

The country is also getting a lot of foreign investment in its telecommunications, manufacturing, real estate and power sectors.


Image: Female supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami, a Islamic political party, wave their party flags while marching through the streets of Karachi.
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters
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Bangladesh, Rank 67

Bangladesh is one of the poorest and most corrupt nations in the world. It is also one of the hungriest with a hunger rate of 24.7.

With most of its working population consisting of farmers, Bangladesh is primarily an agrarian society. However, agriculture is not a very productive occupation for the nation, as millions in the country go hungry everyday.

Rice and tea are the nation's major exports, but the country's major portion of exports earnings are generated from its booming textiles and garment industry.

In recent times, Bangladesh has been a magnet for foreign investment and MNCs which have been setting up base there.


Image: A customer tries on a prayer cap at the new market area in Dhaka.
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters
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Comoros, Rank 73

Amongst the world's poorest and hungriest nations is Comoros, with a hunger rate of 26.9 points, the country ranks 73rd in the world.

Lack of economic growth and extreme poverty have been plaguing Comoros for long. The nation has a fairly okay agricultural sector, with fishing, forestry, etc helping the economy.

The country also suffers from lack of basic infrastructure, low literacy, lack of good educational institutes, high unemployment, etc.

Following Comoros are the Republic of Yemen at 74th spot (27), Central African Republic at 75th (28.1), and Haiti at 76th (28.2).


Image: A view of the harbour in the Comoran capital Moroni.
Photographs: Antony Njuguna/Reuters
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Chad, Rank 80

Chad, with an alarmingly high number of hungry people, is in a pathetic state. Its hunger rate according to the Global Hunger Index, is at a shocking 31.3.

Chad, with almost 80 per cent of its population living below the poverty line, is one of the world's poorest nations.

The country economy mostly relies on agriculture and livestock. However, constant wars and civil strife have left the nation poorer and demotivated its working population. Chad also lacks proper infrastructure, thereby making life even more difficult for people.

Madagascar in 77th position (28.3), Niger in 78th position (28.8), and Ethiopia in 79th position (30.8) are only slightly better off.


Image: Buckets await distribution to people displaced by war near the town of Gos Beida in eastern Chad.
Photographs: Emmanuel Braun/Reuters
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Democratic Republic of Congo, Rank 84

Democratic Republic of Congo is the world's hungriest nation, with an unprecedented hunger rate of 39.1.

War-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo has been for long plagued by not just violence, but also by drought and disease.

Millions of its productive populace has succumbed to either bullets or disease or hunger. Paradoxically, Congo is blessed with rich natural resources, but the constant war has ensured that few of those resources can be wisely utilized for growth and prosperity.

The nation is also one of the most corrupt in the world.

With peace and stability eluding the nation, foreign investment to the Congo has dried up, leading to creaking or non-existent infrastructure, bad roads and communications facilities, and lack of industry.

81 Sierra Leone is ranked 81st (33.8) Eritrea 82nd (36.5) and Burundi 83rd (38.7). The situation in these nations is just as bad as in Congo.

Millions in these nations are going hungry every day, while elsewhere in the world, many people continue to waste food. Time we did something. . .


Image: Girls displaced by war stand in Bulengo camp just outside Goma in eastern Congo.
Photographs: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters
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