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23rd & 24th August – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. More evidence of India’s food insecurity
  2. Thinking through the Nepal policy

MORE EVIDENCE OF INDIA’S FOOD INSECURITY

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

  • Data from the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report show that India retains the dubious distinction of being the country with the largest population of food insecure people.
  • Estimates presented in the report which was released by several United Nations organisations show that the prevalence of food insecurity increased by 3.8 percentage points in India between 2014 and 2019.

Authoritative indicators

The SOFI report, which is published annually, presents the most authoritative evaluation of hunger and food insecurity in the world.

SOFI presents two key measures of food insecurity:

  1. The conventional measure called the Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) and
  2. A new measure called the Prevalence of Moderate and Severe Food Insecurity (PMSFI).

Both of these are globally-accepted indicators of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Target 2.1 to end hunger and food insecurity.

PoU and PMSFI

  • While PoU is focused on estimating the proportion of population facing chronic deficiency of calories, the PMSFI is a more comprehensive measure of the lack of access to adequate and nutritious food.
  • Estimates of PoU are based on food balance sheets and national surveys of consumption.
  • Given that consumption surveys are done infrequently in most countries, these estimates are often based on outdated data and are revised when better data become available.
  • In contrast, the PMSFI is based on annual surveys that collect information on experiences of food insecurity (such as food shortages, skipping meals, and changing diet diversity because of a lack of resources).
  • The PMSFI uses the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), a gold standard in food security measurement developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), for estimating globally-comparable prevalence rates.

Although FAO-GWP surveys are conducted in India, India is among the few countries that do not allow publication of estimates based on these surveys.

  • Consequently, as in the past years, estimates of PMSFI for India are not published in SOFI.
  • The SOFI report provides three-year average estimates of the number of food insecure people for South Asia as a whole and for South Asia (excluding India).
  • By taking a difference between the two, one can derive the estimates for India.

Country data

  • These estimates show that while 27.8% of India’s population suffered from moderate or severe food insecurity in 2014-16, the proportion rose to 31.6% in 2017-19.
  • The number of food insecure people grew from 42.65 crore in 2014-16 to 48.86 crore in 2017-19.
  • India accounted for 22% of the global burden of food insecurity, the highest for any country, in 2017-19.
  • It is also noteworthy that while the PMSFI increased in India by 3.7 percentage points during this period, it fell by 0.5 percentage points in the rest of South Asia.
  • The per capita dietary energy supply in India increased by 3.8% between 2011-13 and 2015-17.
  • The latest PLFS data have shown that the unemployment rates in the recent years have been higher than in the last four decades.

Lack of Data

  • India has not released the latest National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) consumption expenditure survey data for 2017-18.
  • As a result, conventional measures of poverty and food consumption are not available for recent years.
    Because of a lack of regular availability of consumption survey data from most countries, the FAO uses supply-wise data on per capita food availability to measure changes in average per capita calorie intake.
  • It is critical for India to conduct a national survey on food insecurity to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security of different sections of the population.

-Source: The Hindu


THINKING THROUGH THE NEPAL POLICY

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Introduction

  • Nepal Prime Minister made a friendly gesture towards India by telephoning Indian Prime Minister to convey greetings on India’s Independence Day.
  • This was followed by a meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Project Monitoring Committee.
  • The committee was set up to review progress in the large number of bilateral cooperation projects.

Unilateral actions

  • A relatively minor dispute involving about 35 square kilometres of territory around the Kalapani springs, was expanded to claim a large wedge of Indian territory towards the east, measuring nearly 400 square kilometres.
  • The expanded claim was incorporated into Nepal through a constitutional amendment and a revised official map.
  • Borders which have been accepted by both sides for more than 100 years and which have also been reflected on their official maps cannot be unilaterally altered by one side coming up with archival material which has surfaced in the meantime.
  • This would make national boundaries unstable and shifting, and create avoidable controversies between countries as is the case now between India and Nepal.

Geography and boundaries

  • The Treaty of Sugauli of 1816 sets the Kali river as the boundary between the two countries in the western sector. (There was no map attached to the treaty.)
  • Nepal is now claiming that the main tributary of the Kalapani river rises east of the Lipu Lekh pass from the Limpiyadhura ridgeline and hence should serve as the border.
  • Even if the lengthiest tributary may be one principle for a riverine boundary, which is itself debatable, it is not the only one.
  • There are many boundaries which do not follow any geographical principle at all but are the result of historical circumstances, mutual agreement and legal recognition.
  • The fact is that once the British side carried out detailed surveys of the region, they consistently showed the India-Nepal border heading due north of Kalapani springs to a few kilometres east of the Lipu Lekh Pass.
  • This alignment never changed in subsequent years and was also reflected in Nepali official maps.

Proof from the past?

  • In 1969, the then Prime Minister of Nepal demanded that India military personnel manning the villages along the Nepal-Tibet border since the early 1950s be withdrawn.
  • In the list of villages named: Lipu Lekh and Kalapani were not named, proving that the understanding back then was not indicative of the two regions being a part of Nepal.

Conclusion, Way Forward

  • For India, more than the exemplary inter-state relationship, it is the unique people-to-people relations between India and Nepal; and, fortunately, inter-state relations have been unable to undermine the dense affinities that bind our peoples together.
  • While India should reject the Nepali state’s ill-conceived territorial claims, it should do everything to nurture the invaluable asset it has in the goodwill of the people of Nepal.

-Source: The Hindu

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