India Tops South Asia Hunger Chart Amid COVID19 Pandemic

India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asian have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. The COVID19 pandemic has worsened India's hunger and malnutrition. Tens of thousands of Indian children were forced to go to sleep on an empty stomach as the daily wage workers lost their livelihood and Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the South Asian nationPakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan opted for "smart lockdown" that reduced the impact on daily wage earners. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 

World Hunger Rankings 2020. Source: World Hunger Index Report

India Among Worst Hit: 

India has 17.3% child wasting rate, the worst in South Asia region. Child stunting is also extremely high across South Asia. “Data from 1991 through 2014 for Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan showed that stunting is concentrated among children from households facing multiple forms of deprivation, including poor dietary diversity, low levels of maternal education, and household poverty,” the World Hunger Report said. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 

Hunger and malnutrition are worsening in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in low-income communities or those already stricken by continued conflict. 

India has performed particularly poorly because of one of the world's strictest lockdowns imposed by Prime Minister Modi to contain the spread the virus. 

Global Food Prices:

Global food prices are soaring by double digits amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bloomberg News. Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. These rapid price rises are hitting the people in Pakistan and the rest of the world hard.  In spite of these hikes, Pakistan remains among the least expensive places for food, according recent studies. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to rise up to the challenge and relieve the pain inflicted on the average Pakistani consumer.  

Global Agricultural Futures Contracts. Source: Bloomberg

Global Food Prices:

Global food prices are increasing at least partly due to several nations buying basic food commodities to boost their strategic reserves in the midst of the pandemic.  A Bloomberg News report says that "agricultural commodity buyers from Cairo to Islamabad have been on a shopping spree since the Covid-19 pandemic upended supply chains".  It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. Here's an excerpt of the Bloomberg story:

"Agricultural prices have been on the rise as countries stepped up purchases, adding to demand from China and a drought in the Black Sea region. That has helped push the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, which measures key farm goods futures contracts, up almost 20% since June. Sugar prices have gained a boost as China replenished stockpiles, said Geovane Consul, chief executive officer of a Brazilian sugar and ethanol joint venture between U.S. agribusiness giant Bunge Ltd. and British oil major BP Plc." 

Supply Constraint in Pakistan: 

The Pakistan Government estimates final wheat production ended up at 25.5 million tons, slightly above the five-year average of 25.38 million tons, according to Grain Central. While that represented a 1.2 million tons increase on the 24.3 million tons harvested in 2019, it was well short of the government’s target of 27 million tons, forcing Pakistan to import wheat at higher global prices.

Demand for fruits and vegetables is also rising at about 9.5% a year, according to Mordor Intelligence. The supply is falling short of demand, putting pressure on prices. 

Global Food Price Comparison. Source: Bayut

Food Prices in Pakistan:

The food prices have risen 14% for urban and 16.8% for rural areas of Pakistan in the last 12 months, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. In spite of this inflationary trend,  the grocery prices in Pakistan remain among the lowest in the world. A comparison by Dubai-based Bayut shows that groceries in Pakistan cost 72.9% less than in the United States. Other least-expensive countries for groceries include Tunisia ( 67% less), Ukraine ( 66.7% less), Egypt (65.6% less) and Kosovo (65.6% less). 

Globally, Switzerland sells the most expensive groceries, with prices 79.1% higher than in the U.S. Norway is the second most expensive place to buy groceries, with prices 37.4% more expensive than in the U.S., and Iceland is third most expensive, where food items are 36.6% pricier, according to Bayut.

Cost of Dining Out. Source:


India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020.  China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger.  Other South Asian have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. However, global food price hikes have also hit average Pakistani hard in spite of the fact that grocery prices in Pakistan remain the lowest the world.  Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. World food commodity prices are increasing at least partly due to several nations buying basic food commodities to boost their strategic reserves in the midst of the pandemic. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to intervene in the markets to relieve the average Pakistani consumer's pain. 

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Jack said…
Haha - China is staring at a famine with a major food crisis

"China, which embarked on the mission of becoming a superpower by showing its economic and military might to the world, now may be brought to its knees over a shortage of food. Reduction in overall domestic food production; a recent deluge in the Yangtze River basin, the rice bowl of China; and a slash in imports, mostly aggravated by deteriorating diplomatic relations, has caused Beijing to hit the panic button"
Oppo said…
So India sits near the bottom of World Hunger Index and China right at the very top. Yet we have some in India and the West ready to celebrate China's "coming famine".
Riaz Haq said…
#India's #coronavirus cases nearing 7.5 million with another 62,212 cases over the previous day. #COVID #Modi #BJP #economy

India’s coronavirus infections rose by another 62,212 cases over the previous day and a local media report said on Saturday that the government had begun identifying about 300 million people who would be given the vaccine first when it is ready.

The Times of India said that frontline health and sanitation workers, police officials and elderly people with co-morbidities will get the vaccine on priority.

The plan, which is still in the draft stage, aims to cover 23% of the population in the first phase. The final plan is likely to be ready by end October-November, the report said.

The selected individuals will be given an estimated 600 million doses.

Earlier this month, health minister Harsh Vardhan had said that India hopes to receive up to 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by July next year to inoculate about 250 million people.

Officials have said that giving the vaccine to India’s 1.3 billion people will be a mammoth exercise, likely to stretch well into 2022.

India’s cumulative tally of coronavirus infections stood at 7.43 million on Saturday, having risen by 62,212 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed.

But the number of active infections slipped below 800,000 for the first time in 1.5 months, which the ministry called a significant achievement.

India has recorded the world’s second-largest number of cases after the United States and worries have been high that there may be further spikes during the ongoing festival season.
Riaz Haq said…
Global #food prices rise as countries stockpile amid worsening #coronavirus #pandemic. In times of uncertainty, people are more likely to hoard. Countries importing grains to boost their pandemic stockpiles include #China, #Egypt, #Jordan, #Taiwan, others.

A number of countries, including China, are stockpiling for an uncertain pandemic season amid concerns over whether the global supply chain for food can remain intact as COVID-19 cases rise worldwide.

World food prices have been rising for four straight months, according to a United Nations price index. Countries importing grains to boost their pandemic stockpiles include Egypt, Jordan, Taiwan and others.

“China comes to mind, as they’ve taken on a massive restocking program,” said Michael Magdovitz, food and agriculture analyst at Rabobank. “But also India. Countries may increase their buffers to avoid any supply-side issues,” such as lockdowns or border closures should the pandemic worsen.

“I think people are trying to protect their own interests, which in some ways is rational,” Preston said. “Even if it can cause what they call a ‘commons problem,’ where then there’s not enough for everybody.”

When the pandemic first hit, governments and food security authorities expressed concerns about food protectionism. That didn’t come to pass globally.

Still, bottlenecks have turned up in developing countries. In South Africa, workers were banned from traveling to a packing plant for citrus, said Thomas Reardon, agricultural economist at Michigan State University.

“Also, because wood was not classed as an essential item, the wood was not coming in to make packing crates, so the fruit could not be packed,” Reardon said.

Globally, the prices of grain and meat continue to rise, just as more and more people can’t afford them given widespread job losses. Sherman Robinson, trade scholar at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said food insecurity is showing up everywhere.

“It’s widespread across developing countries,” Robinson said. “In the developed countries, it really depends on how good your social safety net is. So in the U.S. case, we’re probably among the worst of the developed countries.”
Riaz Haq said…
#India ranks among the world’s worst in terms of #coronavirus, religious bigotry, #humanrights, #hunger, #happiness, #water quality, #AirQuality, #media #freedom, #environment etc. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva

Kailash Anerao

94 out of 107-Global Hunger Index
147 out of 157-Oxfam Inequality Index
120 out of 122-Water Quality Index
179 out of 180-Air Quality Index
144 out of 156-UN World Happiness Index
140 out of 180-World Press Freedom Index
167 out of 180-Environmental Performance Index
Riaz Haq said…
Riaz Haq has left a new comment on your post "World Happiness Report 2020: Pakistan is the Happi...":

OXFAM #Inequality Index: #India's #Health Budget Is 4th Lowest In The World; Worse Than #Pakistan, #Nepal Amidst #COVID19 #Pandemic. @trakintech

According to the latest ‘Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2020’, report published by the international charity confederation Oxfam on
7 October 2020 , India ranked 155th in a survey consisting of 158 countries, showing that the country spends less than 4% of its budget on health.

The health spending index of India is so poor that even its neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh spend slightly more than 4% of their budget on health.

As per Oxfam’s latest 2020 Index report, of the 158 countries surveyed for checking whether they allocate 15% of their respective budgets on health as recommended, it was found that Nigeria, Bahrain and India were among the lowest rankers, in terms of health spending index.

India secured the 155th spot, sharing its position with Afghanistan, both of which allocated less than 4% of their budget on health.

Speaking of health spending indices, Oxham found that only 28 of these 158 surveyed countries were spending the recommended fraction of 15% of their budgets on health.

The report said, “India’s health budget is the fourth lowest in the world. Just half of its population have access to even the most essential health services”.

The report also mentioned that while the trend of allocating a very small percentage of budget towards health is persistent across South Asian countries,

Pakistan spent a little over 4% of its budget on health, while
Nepal and Bangladesh spent 5%.
The report reads,

“This is particularly damaging when just half of India’s population (55%) has access to even the most essential services, and more than 70% of health spending is being met from household budgets.”

Also, as per the database from the World Bank, in 2017 India dedicated only 3.4% of its expenditure towards health.

Just to get an understanding of comparison, in the same year Japan spent 23.6% of the government budget on health.

Riaz Haq said…
A global ranking of governments based on what they are doing to tackle the gap between rich and poor

The Overall Index Score combines all three core pillars on which the index is based: social spending, progressive taxation policies and labour rights.

Pakistan ranks 128 among 158 countries. India ranks 129 & Bangladesh 113.
Riaz Haq said…
The Next #China? #India Must First Beat #Bangladesh. India’s #COVID19 #economic gloom turned into despair this week, on news that its per capita gross domestic product (#GDP) may be lower for 2020 than in neighboring Bangladesh

Ever since it began opening up the economy in the 1990s, India’s dream has been to emulate China’s rapid expansion. After three decades of persevering with that campaign, slipping behind Bangladesh hurts its global image. The West wants a meaningful counterweight to China, but that partnership will be predicated on India not getting stuck in a lower-middle-income trap.


Consider first the exceptionalism of India’s growth. Bangladesh is doing well because it’s following the path of previous Asian tigers. Its slice of low-skilled goods exports is in line with its share of poor-country working-age population. Vietnam is punching slightly above its weight. But basically, both are taking a leaf out of China’s playbook. The People’s Republic held on to high GDP growth for decades by carving out for itself a far bigger dominance of low-skilled goods manufacturing than warranted by the size of its labor pool.

India, however, has gone the other way, choosing not to produce the things that could have absorbed its working-age population of 1 billion into factory jobs. “India’s missing production in the key low-skill textiles and clothing sector amounts to $140 billion, which is about 5% of India’s GDP,” the authors say.

If half of India’s computer software exports in 2019 ceased to exist, there would be a furor. But that $60 billion loss would have been the same as the foregone exports annually from low-skill production. It’s real, and yet nobody wants to talk about it. Policymakers don’t want to acknowledge that the shoes and apparel factories that were never born — or were forced to close down — could also have earned dollars and created mass employment. They would have provided a pathway for permanent rural-to-urban migration in a way that jobs that require higher levels of education and training never can. Bangladesh has two out of five women of working age in the labor force, double India’s 21% participation rate.

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