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Is India still the world’s hunger capital?

Todays’ Deccan Herald carries a good opinion piece on hunger. Prasenjit Chowdhury says, “India has a terrible record in tackling hunger and malnutrition …. India ranked 66th on the 2008 Global Hunger Index of 88 countries, as per a report released by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).” Yet, things aren’t that simple. In their 2011 book, Poor Economics: a Radical Rethinking of the way to Fight Global Poverty, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo point out that calorie consumption in India across all social classes  has declined over the past decade. They suggest that increasing mechanisation and lifestyle change may account for some of this. They also show that the poorest spend little of any discretionary income they do have on food. Nutrition deficits in India are not that simple.

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