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Affluent Gujarat scores low on hunger index


Vivian Fernandes,CNN-IBN
Oct 15, 2008 at 01:54pm IST

Ahmedabad: The land of the Nano is not just hungry for investments, it is just plain hungry. Also worse, it fares even worse than Orissa. Despite double digit economic and agricultural growth, Gujarat is at the same level as Orissa.

By relocating the Nano project to Gujarat Ratan Tata has given Chief Minister Narendra Modi not only a trophy project, but also a reason to give both Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and arch rival Mamata Banerjee some unsolicited advice.If Buddha wants to hit back, he will find enough grist in the first-ever India State Hunger Index.

According to the index, there is not a single state in the country where hunger levels are low or moderate. In most of them, they are alarming. Curiously, despite double digit overall economic and agricultural growth, Gujarat is at the same level as Orissa.

The index is a combination of three measures: calorie deficiency, underweight children and infant deaths. Of 88 countries studied internationally, Indian ranks 66. Within India there are wide variations. Bread basket Punjab which tops the list has a score that is just about Ghana ranked 34th in the global index.

Madhya Pradesh is the worst with a score that puts it just above Ethiopia ranked 82. Gujarat, 13th on the Indian list is below Haiti, ranked 69. While West Bengal ranks 8th among Indian states.

States like Gujarat might object saying that the ranking are based on two and three year old national health and consumption surveys and they do not incorporate the effect of the rural jobs scheme and state-level initiatives.

“I am focusing on human development index, the figures which you have are those of 2005 -6 but we have started the scheme in 2005 so now you will see the results,” says Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.

But even poverty alleviation measures might not have an impact on the hunger index. And states that are on the fast track of economic growth could be leaving the poor behind.

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