Editorial 1: Court’s order and the ASI survey are flawed


  • In its judgment recently a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India, comprising the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and others interpreted the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 and gave a binding declaration of the law interpreting the Act, which, under the constitutional scheme, becomes the law of the land and binds all courts within the territory of India under Article 141 of the Constitution of India.

Constitutional basis to an assurance

  • The Preamble to the Act states: “An Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
  • The law has been enacted to fulfil two purposes. First, it prohibits the conversion of any place of worship. In doing so, it speaks to the future by mandating that the character of a place of public worship shall not be altered.
  • Second, the law seeks to impose a positive obligation to maintain the religious character of every place of worship as it existed on 15 August 1947 when India achieved independence from colonial rule.

Places of worship

  • “Place of worship” includes temple, mosque, gurudwara, church, monastery or any other place of public religious worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof, by whatever name called.
  • Parliament determined that independence from colonial rule furnishes a constitutional basis for healing the injustices of the past by providing the confidence to every religious community that their places of worship will be preserved and that their character will not be altered.
  • The law speaks to our history and to the future of the nation. Cognizant as we are of our history and of the need for the nation to confront it, Independence was a watershed moment to heal the wounds of the past.
  • Historical wrongs cannot be remedied by the people taking the law in their own hands.


  • The Bench has singularly failed to follow a binding precedent to which Justice Chandrachud himself was a party in the Ram Janmabhoomi temple case.
  • There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Gyanvapi mosque has been a place of public worship for centuries for Muslims and, therefore, there is an absolute and total bar on changing its character in any manner, into a place of worship of a different religious denomination.
  • The Supreme Court has completely overlooked that the obligations under the Act were upon the state as also on every citizen of the nation and those who govern the affairs of the nation at every level were bound by it.
  • The Supreme Court is the ultimate custodian of constitutional values and morality.
  •  Applying the spirit of the judgment of Ram Janmabhoomi temple case, the three courts ought to have been extraordinarily mindful about the rights and feelings of the minority community.
  • Bigotry during parts of the Islamic period has always stood condemned; in fact that led to the rise of the powerful Marathas, Rajputs and Sikhs, resulting in overthrowing the Muslim empire.

The opening of a Pandora’s box

  • We must remember that while injustice was done to the Hindus by Muslim rulers, democratic India cannot perpetuate them to undo them.
  • One can only remember that rulers like Akbar respected Hindus and allowed religious freedom to them.
  • The Bhakti movement which produced some of the greatest saints such as Chaitanya, Surdas, Tulsidas, Gopala Bhatt, Sankardeva, Eknath, Tukaram, Dadu, Meera Bai, and Guru Nanak raised the status of non-Brahmins, especially Dalits amongst Hindus. In that sense, religion was democratised.


  • When history is written in future, there should not be any reference that the Hindus of the 21st century indulged in religious bigotry. For over 5,000 years Hinduism has been a way of life and one of the greatest religions marked by Liberalism, Tolerance and Absorption. Let us hope for peace and prosperity in our beloved India.

Editorial 2: Measuring hunger across States


  • Despite being a major food producer with extensive food security schemes and the largest public distribution system in the world, India still grapples with significant levels of food insecurity, hunger, and child malnutrition.

Index and Report

  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI), 2022, ranked India 107 among 121 countries, behind Nigeria (103) and Pakistan (99).
  • The GHI provides a composite measurement and tracks undernourishment and hunger at the national level across three dimensions: calorie undernourishment, child malnutrition, and under-five mortality.
  • According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report of 2022, India is home to 224.3 million undernourished people.
  • Leveraging subnational data that encompasses the three dimensions of the GHI enables the development of an India-specific hunger index at the level of States and Union Territories.
  • This plays a pivotal role in evaluating the extent of undernourishment at a more localised scale, which is critical for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating hunger and malnutrition.

The State Hunger Index

  • The GHI is computed using four indicators — the prevalence of calorie undernourishment; and of stunting, wasting, and mortality among children below the age of five; and under-five mortality rate.
  • The State Hunger Index (SHI) is calculated using the same indicators except calorie undernourishment, which is replaced by body mass index (BMI) undernourishment among the working-age population, as data on calorie undernourishment are not available since 2012.
  • Data for stunting, wasting, and mortality among children below the age of five are sourced from the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), while the prevalence of BMI undernourishment is computed using NFHS-5 (2019-21) and Wave 1 of the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (2017-18).
  • The calculation of the SHI score involves combining the normalised values of the four indicators using the techniques recommended by the GHI.
  • The SHI scores range between 0 and 100, with higher scores indicating more hunger.
  • Scores below 10 signify low hunger, 10-20 moderate, 20-30 serious, 30-40 alarming, and 50 or above extremely alarming.

The Data

  • In the SHI, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh scored 35, which places them in the ‘alarming’ category.
  • Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, and West Bengal all scored above the national average (29).
  • On the other hand, Chandigarh scored 12, and Sikkim, Puducherry, and Kerala all scored below 16.
  • These States, along with Manipur, Mizoram, Punjab, Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Tamil Nadu, fall under the ‘moderate hunger’ category.
  • All the other States, which scored below the national average and above 20, have a problem of ‘serious hunger’. No State falls under the ‘low hunger’ category. The impact of COVID-19 on the SHI is not captured here since post-pandemic estimates are not yet available.

Facing the reality

  • While the GHI has faced significant criticism from experts regarding its conceptualisation, indicator selection, and aggregation methods, it does provide critical insight into the state of undernourishment and child nutrition.
  • India’s poor performance in the GHI is primarily attributed to its high prevalence of undernourishment and child malnutrition.
  • India ranks unfavourably in child wasting, performing worse than many low-income African nations.
  • The NFHS-5 indicated that one-third of children under the age of five are stunted and underweight, while every fifth child suffers from wasting.


  • Despite India’s notable progress in alleviating extreme poverty over the last 15 years, as indicated by the recent National Multidimensional Poverty Index, challenges persist in addressing the disparity in food insecurity, hunger, and child malnutrition.