Only three other countries in this year's GHI-Djibouti, Sri Lanka, and South Sudan-have data or estimates showing child wasting above 20 percent in the latest period (2012-2016).
India has a "serious" hunger problem and ranks 100 among 119 developing countries, lagging behind countries such as North Korea and Iraq, said the global hunger index report released by Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on Thursday.
The report stated that as of 2015-16, 21 percent of India's children suffered from child wasting (low weight and height), which went up by a percent from 2005-2006. In fact, the percentage of wasting children has gone up from 20.0% in 1990-94 to 21.0% in 2012-16.
P K Joshi, director of IFPRI director for South Asia, said that despite efforts, a large number of poor in India are at the risk of malnourishment in 2017, primarily due to drought and structural deficiencies.
"India's 2017 GHI score is at the high end of the serious category", it said.
IFPRI pointed out that more than one-fifth of Indian children under five weigh too little for their height and over a third are too short for their age.
India has slipped 45 ranks in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) since 2014.
The GHI score is based on four indicators - proportion of undernourished in the population, prevalence of child mortality, child stunting, and child wasting. "But the country has made progress in other areas: Its child stunting rate, while still relatively high at 38.4 percent, has decreased in each of the reference periods in this report, down from 61.9 percent in 1992", the report adds. "The improvement on the child stunting rate shows that children are born in a better condition than before".
The report, citing from Menon's research, points out that while India claimed a "massive scale-up" of two national nutrition programmes, the Integrated Child Development Services and the National Health Mission, it has failed to achieve adequate coverage.
The country was ranked 90th among 118 countries in 2016. Of the 119 countries assessed in this year's report, on the GHI Severity Scale, one is in the extremely alarming range, 7 are in the alarming range, 44 in the serious range, and 24 in the moderate range.