The Centre on Friday said it was shocking that India's rank was lowered on the Global Hunger Index and it termed the methodology used for rankings "unscientific".
India slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th. It is now behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Reacting sharply to the report, the Women and Child Development Ministry said it is "shocking" to find that the Global Hunger Report 2021 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO estimate on proportion of undernourished population which is found to be "devoid of ground reality and facts, and suffers from serious methodological issues".
"The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hungerhilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report," the ministry said in a statement.
The methodology used by FAO is "unscientific", the ministry claimed.
"They have based their assessment on the results of a 'four question' opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup. There is no scientific methodology to measure undernourishment like availability of food grains per capita during the period. The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population," it said.
The ministry further said that the report "completely disregards the government's massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the COVID-19 period", verifiable data on which are available.
"The opinion poll does not have a single question on whether the respondent received any food support from the government or other sources. The representativeness of even this opinion poll is doubtful for India and other countries," the ministry said.
It said it is noted "with surprise, from the FAO report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021', that other four countries of this region, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, have not been affected at all by pandemic induced loss of job/business and reduction in income levels".
The ministry said that these countries were rather able to improve their position on the indicator 'proportion of undernourished population' by 4.3 per cent, 3.3 per cent, 1.3 per cent and 0.8 per cent points respectively during the period 2018-20 over 2017-19.
According to this report, India's position on the first indicator, child mortality, has improved in 2021 compared with 2020. Position on two indicators, i.e., child wasting and child stunting, has remained unchanged in 2021 compared with 2020, the ministry added.