Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bush and Rice are not to be criticised

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a few days back, talked about the growing nutrition in India and China as one of the reasons for increased food prices. US President George Bush has also said something similar.

The Indian news media have used headlines such as "Now Bush Blames India for Food Shortage". Neither Bush nor Rice has blamed India, if one sees the transcripts carefully. They have only tried to explain why prices are going up.

Indians need not be touchy about this. Indian consumption has gone up, on an average. Later today Sainath will be making a convocation address in Chennai Music Academy. He is bound to talk about the poor people in India getting poorer and not getting enough to eat while the rich in India and the middle class are eating (wasting) more food.

Whether Indian Government can curb the food consumption of the rich or not, it must provide more food to the poor. The nutrition levels required for rural, poor children are considerably more than the current levels. The rich will simply not stop their profligate ways overnight (or for ever). This would mean, India will need more food and therefore will have to grow more food. This will require massive changes in the agricultural sector.

Indian farming is heavily fragmented. There is very little new investment in this space. Most small farmers are heavily indebted, despite the occasional debt write offs by the state and the central governments. The scientific approach required in growing food crops and preserving and marketing the same cannot be managed by the current farmers. Nor can a country depend solely on debt funding in this sector. Corporations should be allowed in to farming sector urgently. Venture capital should be allowed. Foreign investment should also be seriously considered.

All of this may sound horribly neocon!

I can't see any alternative though. If we keep dithering, we may not have enough food in the next 5 years and there will be riots in the streets. Annual growth rate of 8%+ will not mean a thing, then.


  1. Food is an essential part of our life. Current situation can be an eye opener to all developing/developed nations. They all have to promote agriculture. (hey.. by this you are also making earth greener)

    These are the side effects of globalization.. we all are positive to globalization.. so we have to bear the short term consequences..

  2. I will say it is nothing but a pessimistic ignorant view of someone trying to be smartass.
    I have mentioned there, why food prices in america are going high. It has nothing to do with India but it is cos of the biofuel and global warming madness people are stressing on unnecessarily.
    About riots because of food, until government wont stop interfering in economy, agriculture andwater resources, things won't improve.
    Also read, how Indian government wasted $50 billions on the falsehood of improving irrigation.

    and that idiot who is complaining about Globalization being anonymous, must learn than most of grains India gets from foriegn countries. so if globalization is stopped, whole India will die of hunger.

    I wonder why people don't try to look for reason before commenting arbitarily?
    Height of ignorance.