The Congress party has criticized Smriti Irani, a Union minister, for her comments that questioned the credibility of the Global Hunger Index, on which India received a poor ranking. They accused the BJP leader of displaying ignorance and insensitivity. Irani, who serves as the Minister of Women and Child Development in the Narendra Modi government, asserted that the annual Global Hunger Index report is prepared by simply calling people and asking if they are hungry.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate expressed her dismay, stating, “I don’t know what’s more shameful – your level of ignorance or your insensitivity at display here. You are the Women and Child Development Minister in the Government of India – it’s appalling to hear you. Frankly, you are an embarrassment!” She emphasized that the Global Hunger Index report relies heavily on indicators such as undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality.

Shrinate highlighted that these four indicators are also used to assess progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She urged Irani, given her influential position, not to trivialize the issue of hunger.

“Please don’t make a mockery of hunger – you are an extremely powerful and entitled woman, a minister in the Government of India for heaven’s sake! There are enough and more meals available on the flights you board and the places you visit,” she added.

In response to Irani’s remarks, Priyanka Chaturvedi, a leader of the Shiv Sena (UBT), criticized her, saying, “Hardly having the time to eat= Hardly having food to eat,” and accused her of arrogance.

Smriti Irani had contended that certain indices, including the Global Hunger Index, intentionally do not present an accurate picture of India. She described the methodology, where people are asked whether they are hungry, and shared her own experiences of a busy schedule.

India’s position in the Global Hunger Index-2023 was 111th out of 125 countries. The government rejected this ranking, claiming errors and malicious intent. The index also highlighted that India has the world’s highest child wasting rate at 18.7 percent, indicating severe undernutrition. With a score of 28.7, India’s level of hunger is classified as serious according to the index. Neighboring countries like Pakistan (102nd), Bangladesh (81st), Nepal (69th), and Sri Lanka (60th) performed better in the index.

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