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Comparison of Indian states with other countries

Table 4 shows the position of the 17 Indian states relative to the countries for which the Global Hunger Index 2008 is reported. India’s rank on the GHI 2008 is 66; the ranks of the different states in relation to the GHI range from 34 for the state of Punjab (whose ISHI score lies places it between Nicaragua and Ghana) to 82 for Madhya Pradesh (whose ISHI score places it between Chad and Ethiopia). Ten of the 17 states have an ISHI rank that is above India’s (66), which indicates that these states are relative outperformers (at least relative to the Indian average). Sadly, even the bestperforming state in India, Punjab, ranks below such countries as Gabon, Honduras, and Vietnam.

It is useful to examine the underlying dimensions on the hunger index to understand the contributions of different dimensions to the overall hunger index. This is shown in Figure 3, and reveals that for the majority of states, child underweight is responsible for the largest variability between states. In addition, for most states, the overall scores are high because of particularly high child underweight rates. When compared to the majority of states, the contribution of low calorie consumption levels to the hunger index is higher for Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and to a lesser extent in Maharashtra and Karnataka. The contribution of child mortality to the hunger index scores, however, is relatively small and less variable across all the states when compared to the contributions of child underweight and calorie undernourishment.

The Hunger Index in relation to other social and economic indicators

How does the India State Hunger Index (ISHI) compare to other indicators of economic and social progress? To address this question, we present in Figure 4 the simple association between ISHI scores and levels of poverty at the state level. The association between the hunger index and the percentage of the population below the poverty line is strong. This is expected, given that poverty is often the root cause of insufficient food intake, child malnutrition, and child mortality. A few states, however, deviate from the predicted line. Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are clear “negative outliers”, meaning that they have a much higher hunger index than would be expected based on their poverty level; Punjab, Orissa and Kerala, on the other hand, stand out as “positive deviants”– that is, they have significantly lower hunger index scores than would be expected of states with their level of poverty.

In addition to the above, Figure 5 presents a scatterplot of the 17 states by the hunger index and net state domestic product (NSDP) per capita, with the latter serving as a proxy for per capita income in a state. In this case, a strong inverse association is observed between the two variables, with poorer states having a significantly higher hunger index than more prosperous states. However, the association is far from perfect, with a number of states appearing as outliers. For instance, Madhya Pradesh again stands out as having a much higher level of hunger than would be expected based on its per capita income; Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are also “negative outliers”, as is Maharashtra which has a hunger index almost as high as that of Orissa , but a NSDP twice as large. Several states are also doing better than expected given their economic level, with Punjab being a noticeable positive outlier, and, to a smaller extent, Kerala, Assam and Rajasthan.


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