They have extremely low weight for their height; the only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is war-torn South Sudan.

At least one in five Indian children under the age of five are wasted, which means they have extremely low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition, according to the Global Hunger Index 2018. The only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn nation of South Sudan, says the report, which was released on Thursday.

Overall, India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Index, with hunger levels in the country categorised as “serious”. India’s ranking has dropped three places from last year, although the Index says its results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides a few reference years for comparable data. The 2018 scores reflect data from 2013-2017.

Four main indicators are used to calculate hunger levels in the report, which is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide. (The International Food Policy Research Institute was also involved with the publication until this year.)

The first indicator is undernourishment, which is the share of the population which is undernourished and reflects insufficient caloric intake. The next three indicators use data for children under five: child wasting (low weight for height), reflecting acute under-nutrition; child stunting (low height for age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition; and child mortality.

India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years. The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018. The child mortality rate has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4% over the same period.

However, the prevalence of child wasting has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years. It stood at 17.1% in 2000, and increased to 20% in 2005. In 2018, it stands at 21%. South Sudan’s child wasting prevalence is at 28%.

Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical public health emergency”, according to UN organisations. The report notes that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months, suggesting that attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important.

Also, child wasting in the region is associated with a low maternal body mass index, suggesting the need for a focus on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy.

The report notes that in South Asia, “maternal BMI and access to improved water and sanitation are more closely associated with rates of child wasting than household wealth, suggesting that a reduction in poverty alone may not be sufficient to correct the problem…Factors that could reduce child stunting in South Asia include increased consumption of non-staple foods, access to sanitation, women’s education, access to safe water, gender equality, and national food availability.”

Globally, the level of hunger still falls into the “serious” category, despite improvement over the last two decades. The Index projects that at the current rate of progress, 50 countries will fail to reach the “low” hunger category by 2030. This puts the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to end hunger by 2030, in jeopardy, says the report.

Courtesy: www.thehindu.com

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New Delhi, Dec 11: The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that if there is a "common thread" among the murders of social activists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, journalist Gauri Lankesh and rationalist M M Kalburgi, then one agency can investigate all the four cases.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and Navin Sinha asked the CBI to inform it by January first week as to why it should not investigate all the four cases if there appears a link among all the murders.

The counsel for the Maharashtra government informed the court that the CBI is investigating the murder cases of social activist and professor Narendra Dabholkar after the Bombay High Court transferred the probes to the agency.

The court, after perusing the status report of the Karnataka Police, said there appears to be a link between the murders of journalist Gauri Lankesh and rationalist M.M Kalburgi.

It asked the Maharashtra government's counsel about the status of the investigation into the Pansare murder case, to which the counsel said the case was pending before the Kolhapur trial court.

Earlier in the day, the Karnataka Police had informed the apex court that there appears to be a connection between Lankesh and Kalburgi murder cases.

The state police also told the apex court that it will file a chargesheet in the Kalburgi murder case in three months.

Noted scholar Kalburgi was killed at Dharwad in 2015. Pansare was also killed the same year. Lankesh was shot dead on September 5, 2017 in Bengaluru, whereas rationalist Dabholkar was assassinated on August 20, 2013.

The top court on November 26 had pulled up the Karnataka government for "doing nothing and just fooling around" in the investigation and had indicated that it may transfer the case to the Bombay High Court.

The top court had on January 10 sought the response of probe agencies NIA and CBI and the two state governments on the allegation of Uma Devi that no substantial investigation has been carried out so far in the murder case.

Kalburgi's wife, in her petition, had alleged that there was common link between the murder of her husband and that of activists Narendra Achyut Dabholkar and Govindrao Pansare, who too were assassinated in August 2013 and February 2015 respectively.

The 77-year old Kalburgi, the former vice chancellor of Hampi University and a well-known epigraphist, was shot dead in broad daylight at his residence in Kalyan Nagar in Dharwad, Karnataka, on August 30, 2015. Born in 1938, he was a Sahitya Akademi award-winning writer of old Kannada literature.