India is ranked 101 among 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI), 2021 report. The country continues to be in the severe-hunger category. The GHI report said that wasting “weight for height” among children in India increased from 17.1% between 1998 and 2002 to 17.3% between 2016 and 2020. The hunger problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic. People who used to go for work as migrant wage labourers are stuck in their villages. Weekly bazaars in the villages were not functional during the lockdown, causing loss of livelihood. People living in villages in the forests can’t do farming in the forest land.
The constant state of hunger can lead to different morbidities and subsequent mortalities in the worst conditions. Poverty remains a grave concern in India. Food inadequacy and hard and hazardous work conditions lead to diseases such as tuberculosis and silicosis, often leading to death. Experts with extensive field experience opine that this is a state of slow starvation. When people do not get enough nutritious food for long periods of time, health takes a downward slide which most times cannot be reversed. Deaths from such situations get tagged under death by disease and not death by starvation, according to John Dreze, a social economist. While the government on one hand is aiming for India to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024, many parts of rural India is a far cry from such a reality.
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