Monday, October 18, 2010

Hunger: India's Other Growth Story

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reported last week that hunger in India has grown over the last three years.

IFPRI said India's hunger index score has worsened over the last three years from 23.7 to 23.9 to 24.1 and its ranking moved from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 84 nations....while Pakistan's hunger index score has improved over the same period reported since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking has risen from 61 to 58 to 52.

Here's an Indian blogger Abhinav who blogged last February about "Indian Growth Story Nobody Wants To Talk About":

Today’s news on the death of fifty people from hunger at Balangir in Orissa is a grim reminder of the little growth story that India has had. It clearly indicates many negative facets of our system, bureaucracy and the public at large. As per the World Food Program, almost half of the world’s population who are deprived of food live in India. Another website of a well known NGO (http://www.bread.org/learn/hunger-basics/hunger-facts-international.html) offers a grim picture of this particular issue especially when the same is getting the least attention by the policy makers across the world. If 50% of the starving residents belong to India, we do not need to look beyond our borders to nail the culprits.

More than six decades post independence and being counted as one of the key growth engines to the world economy, why are hunger deaths still happening in India? Is it because there is a scarcity of food to offer the ones hungry? Clearly that is not the case.

Those leading a life above the poverty line pay taxes to the Central and the State Governments so that it is used for public facilities, amenities and for the benefit of those living the poverty line. Obviously, those in power have to let go of their hunger for corruption or we have to watch the country going down the drains. Otherwise, it would constantly fail to administer the proper distribution of food and nutrition to people who matter.

We all talk about “3 idiots” and how a college principal is called a murderer who is responsible for the suicide of the students in his college. In the same way, aren’t the following responsible for the demise of people from hunger in our country?

1. Politicians responsible for making food security and food distribution laws.
2. Governmental agencies responsible for proper storage of food grains.
3. Bureaucrats responsible for administration and distribution amongst the right people.
4. Local security agencies which must maintain law and order to ensure proper distribution.

And why is it that they are not punished for these deaths. We have poor being imprisoned for thefts but those in power prosper, while the poor suffer. Is there any accountability for what is being and can be done to break this nexus? Would those in urban cities who are fortunate enough to be writing and reading this blog do something about it? Would they start taking candle light walks in memory of those unfortunate who die in India of hunger every day? Will they go beyond the regular candle marches or force those in power to take responsibility and amend their ways?


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan: A Contrarian Investor's Paradise

India Ranks Below China, Pakistan in Global Hunger Index

Low Status of Indian Women

India's Commonwealth Games Mess

Disaster Dampens Spirits on Pakistan's 63rd Independence Day

UNESCO Education For All Report 2010

India's Arms Build-up: Guns Versus Bread

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

World Hunger Index 2009

Challenges of 2010-2020 in South Asia

India and Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Introduction to Defense Economics

38 comments:

gunam said...

@riaz

Nice article as usual dug out. Probably i can add value to the following :

pg no. 46, statistics collected between 2003-08 and the same is not current. It does not take into consideration the chaos going in the pakistan and impact of the same on the economy and the people.


GNI is made on the basis of the following factors :

a. Proportion of undernourished
in the population

b. Prevalence of underweight in
children under five years

c. Under-five mortality
rate

d gini = a+b+c/3

a. Proportion of undernourished
in the population

India started with 24 and had moved to 22 which is 8% progress during this period.

IN case of Pakistan, it has moved up from 22 to 23 which shows deterioration by 4.54%

b. Prevalence of underweight in
children under five years

India is doing extremely bad in under five under nourished than Pakistan. It has moved from 39 to 25.3 in case Pakistan but India has only moved from 59.5 to 43.5 in the same period. Progress of Pakistan in this period in this category is 35% where as in case of india it is only 26.80%


c. Under-five mortality
rate

in category of under five mortality, India started with 11.6 where as Pakistan with 13. During this period India has moved down to 6.9 where as Pakistan has moved down to 8.9. This tantamount to 40.51% progress in case of India and 31.53% in case of Pakistan


gini

pakistan has started with a great lead in the initial few decades which is reflected in 24.7 vs india's 31.7. As per the statistics, pakistan had a reduction of 22.67% where as india at 23.97% which is marginally in a better rate than pakistan.

Take away from this mis for india is to concentrate on "Prevalence of underweight in children under five years"

Probably Pakistan has to look into Proportion of undernourished
in the population as it is deteriorating and Under-five mortality rate where they could work for more progress.

Anonymous said...

^^gunam

Thanks mate good effort.The under 5 undernourishment problem i was reading is primarily because kids under 5 don't go the school and thus don't receive free fortified milk and one decent meal that most schools provide,another is that the anganwadi/village volunteer system usually concentrate on children over 5 because they are deemed more manageable given the large numbers they have to handle leaving the care for the little ones to the mother/grandmother who often neglect due to illiteracy/superstition a child's basic needs apparently the ministry has taken note of this and a new policy in this regard is due soon.Lets hope for the best.


And riaz even by your statistics Pakistan's figures are definately in the same league as India albeit a few notches better.

So much concern for your arch enemy's children and none for your own???

I think for the sake of Pakistani Children who are almost as worse of as Indian kids(as per your stats)but whose plight scarcely draws a response from the Pak media busy as they are bashing India you should dedicate your next post to them.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an IANS report on "The dark side of India's economic growth" leading to growing hunger and malnutrition in India:


New Delhi: A more inclusive growth policy targeted at marginalised communities and protection of their basic rights is required to combat hunger in India, international NGO ActionAid said.

"The dark side of India's economic growth is the fact that the poor have been dispossessed further, leading to malnutrition, hunger and starvation deaths," Sandeep Chachra, executive director of ActionAid India said here.


The International Food Policy Research Institute has ranked India 67th on the global hunger index, way below its neighbours China and Pakistan.

In a hunger score card released before the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations headquarters at New York in September, ActionAid said that while India's per capita income had tripled between 1990 and 2005, the number of chronically hungry had not reduced, standing at a staggering 270 million.

At this rate, India cannot halve its number of those starving until 2083, the report said.

"Implementation remains a massive challenge. Food and other entitlements have to be delivered on the ground, which requires greater political will," Amar Joyti Nayak, thematic head for food rights for ActionAid India, said.

gunam said...

@riaz

I would prefer to give more weightage for statistic rather than opinions as it can be fully coloured.

With regard to the statistics sources also, there can be large amount of errors and ommission, however it is more reliable than opinions.

Atleast, i will accept as an indian that it has work hard to include that segment where it is doing extremely bad to move it further as drastic improvment in that section will overall improve the trend of india

Anonymous said...

ActionAid said that while India's per capita income had tripled between 1990 and 2005, the number of chronically hungry had not reduced, standing at a staggering 270 million.

Duh! India's population has increased from 800mn to 1.2 bn and the number of absolute poor remains constant so in percentage terms it has improved.

Anyway your concern for India's poor and hungry over the plight of your own countrymen is very laudable.Please continue.

Though if you don't mind a suggestion don't keep repeating stats like a broken record it makes you loose credibility.

Riaz Haq said...

There is great concern that hunger and poverty will increase in rural India as the subsidies are reduced in 2010 budget, according to a piece in Outlook India:

It is also shocking that food subsidy has been reduced by over Rs. 400 crore despite the commitment to enact a food security legislation. Fertiliser subsidy has also been cut by a whopping Rs. 3000 crore from what was spent last year. These moves to reduce subsidies in the name of targetting comes at a time when inflation is galloping and agricultural output growth has become negative. The anti-people approach of the Government in reducing subsidies was laid bare in the Economic survey, which has prescribed the dismantling of the PDS and initiating a “coupon system” for food and fertilisers.

Data Cruncher said...

"There is great concern that hunger and poverty will increase in rural India as the subsidies are reduced in 2010 budget, according to a piece in "

Concern for even Pakistanis????
Do they have concerns above their own insurmountable problems like deep rooted extremism in society, no economy to speak of, low class education which makes their educated class unfit for today's generation.

You really need to set your priorities right, Mr Haq.

Riaz Haq said...

A US NIH funded study published in Lancet says over 200,000 Indians die of Malaria among 1.3 million infectious disease deaths reported in the country, according to a report by the BBC:

he number of people dying from malaria in India has been hugely underestimated, according to new research.

The data, published in the Lancet, suggests there are 13 times more malaria deaths in India than the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

The authors conclude that more than 200,000 deaths per year are caused by malaria.

The WHO said the estimate produced by this study appears too high.

The research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

The new figures raise doubts over the total number of malaria deaths worldwide.
Difficult diagnosis

Calculating how many people die from malaria is extremely difficult. Most cases that are diagnosed and treated do not result in fatalities.

People who die of extremely high fevers in the community can be misdiagnosed and the cause of death can be attributed to other diseases and vice versa.

As most deaths in India occur at home, without medical intervention, cause of death is seldom medically certified.

There are about 1.3 million deaths from infectious diseases, where acute fever is the main symptom in rural areas in India.

In this study, trained field workers interviewed families, asking them to describe how their relative died. Two doctors then reviewed each description and decided if the death was caused by malaria. This method is called verbal autopsy.

Some 122,000 premature deaths between 2001 and 2003 were investigated.

The data suggests that 205,000 deaths before the age of 70, mainly in rural areas, are caused by malaria each year.

Anonymous said...

http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/06/sun-co-founder-uses-capitalism-to-help-poor/

Mayraj said...

The sudden decline in food intake may have more to do with reduction in subsidies. They reduced health subsidies and govt credit subsidies which made poor poorer.

Subsidies, once a linchpin of Indian economic policy, have dried up for virtually everyone but the producers of staple food grains.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/world/asia/19india.html

And guess what Govt is cutting in 2010 tiny subsidy it had provided! Manmohan Singh has been a disater for the majority of the people it looks like!

http://www.livemint.com/2009/09/10145648/Govt-cuts-farm-loan-interest-s.html
Govt cuts farm loan interest subsidy to 2%

http://www.indiatogether.org/opinions/psainath/fattest0502.htm

Survival of the fattest
P. Sainath on food subsidies for the rich

http://governmentpaid.com/agriculture-in-india-issues-and-challenges
Amazon.com Widgets
Agriculture in India: Issues and Challenges
The poor are also fleeced by private health costs because public health facilities do not meet their needs because delivery system is so poor!

"only 20% of those seeking outpatient services and 45% of those seeking indoor treatment avail of public services. While the dilapidated state of infrastructure and poor supply of drugs and equipment are partly to blame, the primary culprit is the rampant employee absenteeism. Nation-wide average absentee rate is 40%. "
http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2008/0124_health_care_panagariya.aspx
India: The Crisis in Rural Health Care
"medical care is now the second most common cause of rural family debt. "
http://www.indiatogether.org/2006/jan/psa-health.htm

Pavan said...

There is also reduced per capita availability which has resulted in rising prices. Food grain storage and production need urgent attention. Dal roti was the staple diet of the poor. Now dal is available at Rs 80 a kilo so the poor have just stopped eating it. Result, reduced intake leading to malnutrition on account of protein deficiency. The prices of food do not affect us so middle-men are making merry as the upper classes will pay any amount. As my cousin said knowingly in Punjabi, dal roti te do sabzian te khanee ee hain! Sainath is a man after my heart. I just hope he is being widely read.

Riaz Haq said...

Nobel Laureate Indian-born economist Amartya Sen wrote an Op Ed column in NY Times in 2008 arguing that with rising incomes in cities in India and China, urbanites are eating more in spite of rising prices while the rural folks are starving.

Here's an excerpt:

It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity. The favored ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve. Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.

A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced rapidly rising incomes, especially in Calcutta, where huge expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with little increase in income.

Misdirected government policy worsened the division. The British rulers were determined to prevent urban discontent during the war, so the government bought food in the villages and sold it, heavily subsidized, in the cities, a move that increased rural food prices even further. Low earners in the villages starved. Two million to three million people died in that famine and its aftermath.

Much discussion is rightly devoted to the division between haves and have-nots in the global economy, but the world’s poor are themselves divided between those who are experiencing high growth and those who are not. The rapid economic expansion in countries like China, India and Vietnam tends to sharply increase the demand for food. This is, of course, an excellent thing in itself, and if these countries could manage to reduce their unequal internal sharing of growth, even those left behind there would eat much better.



http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/28/opinion/28sen.html

Mayraj said...

Actually which urban population is he talking about?
There are two segments:the well off and the rural who are heading for urban regions for livelihood reasons. The latter remain hungry in urban areas also. Pavan's work in the Pune slum can testify to that.
Bear in mind food inflation put food even further out of reach than what Patnaik speech mentioned, as that was in 2004!

Pavan said...

Riaz, pl look up www.jagrutiseva.org where I contribute some of my ideas. We have a very perceptive leader who is open to good ideas. She called me today to say that they are feeding every kid who joins the programme. Just a few iron fortified biscuits or a banana. I had to push for this to happen. NGOs tend to build up corpuses which is not a good thing.

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan:

I visited jagrutiseva.org website. It's a very laudable effort. I salute you for helping and guiding them.

I didn't see any online donation system on their site.

In terms of feeding children for improved nutrition, I think the Bangladeshi Grameen effort with Shakti Doi is the most innovative and cost-effective I have seen so far. I think it should be emulated by India and Pakistan NGOs.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/03/malnutrition-challenge-in-india.html

Riaz Haq said...

Two-thirds of India's population lacks basic sanitation facilities. They are exposed to a variety of infectious disease resulting in 1.3 million deaths a year accounting for the largest number of victims of infections in the world. Studies indicate the prevalence of infections may be contributing to lower IQ of Indians.

In addition to malaria, dengue fever, and cysticercosis, India also has a huge disease burden of rabies, caused by dog bites. In India, 20,000 rabies deaths (that is about 2/100,000 population) are estimated to occur annually, according to Times of India.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.

Lizette Burgers, chief of water and environment sanitation of the Unicef, recently said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia. A former Indian minister Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told the BBC that more than 65% of India's rural population defecated in the open, along roadsides, railway tracks and fields, generating huge amounts of excrement every day.

A US NIH funded study published in Lancet says over 200,000 Indians die of Malaria among 1.3 million infectious disease deaths reported in the country, according to a report by the BBC:

gunam said...

i think there are lot of individual and organization who are trying to elevat the poor. The latest which i came to know through cnn is krishan who feeds the poor

http://heroes.cnn.com/vote.aspx

But this is not enough. My own experience and understanding on the way in which government function is that, it becomes the master and people become slaves.

Better is NGO small in nature like the following also
www.sevalaya.org.
http://www.super30.org/

Further i prefer to give directly to individual rather than to organization where it get distorted over a period of time.

gunam said...

@riaz

Difference between indian and pakistan is that india has to service it population and for pakistan it is otherwise.

World bank statistic of 2006
pak ind
population 0.16 1.11
aid 2.14 1.38
aid per per
citizen p.a 13.45 1.25

So obviously the chances of pakistani above bpl is bright

Aid per pakistani citizen is 10.79 time higher than india.

Analysis of aid to gdp is as under :

gdp 127.50 949.19
aid 2.14 1.38
aid to gdp 1.68% 0.15%

As a percentage comparison pakistan received 11.51 times more aid than india on the scale of aid to gdp

Secret of pakistan doing better for gini factor is hidden here.

bikramshergill said...

Great news Mr. Haq.
http://profit.ndtv.com/news/show/nac-recommends-food-security-net-for-75-population-112465

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some comparisons of disease burdens in India and Pakistan as published by the World Health Organization in 2009:

Burden..............India.....Pakistan

DALYs/1000 cap.......65........58
(disability-adjusted life years)

Deaths..............2,691,000.......318,400

Percent Total Burden...24%.....22%


Malnutrition(Stunting)...48%.....42%

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC's Soutik Biswas's review of a book "Churchill's Secret War" by journalist Madhusree Mukherjee offering evidence that Churchill "starved India" in 1940s:

It is 1943, the peak of the Second World War. The place is London. The British War Cabinet is holding meetings on a famine sweeping its troubled colony, India. Millions of natives mainly in eastern Bengal, are starving. Leopold Amery, secretary of state for India, and Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell, soon to be appointed the new viceroy of India, are deliberating how to ship more food to the colony. But the irascible Prime Minister Winston Churchill is coming in their way.


"Apparently it is more important to save the Greeks and liberated countries than the Indians and there is reluctance either to provide shipping or to reduce stocks in this country," writes Sir Wavell in his account of the meetings. Mr Amery is more direct. "Winston may be right in saying that the starvation of anyhow under-fed Bengalis is less serious than sturdy Greeks, but he makes no sufficient allowance for the sense of Empire responsibility in this country," he writes.

Some three million Indians died in the famine of 1943. The majority of the deaths were in Bengal. In a shocking new book, Churchill's Secret War, journalist Madhusree Mukherjee blames Mr Churchill's policies for being largely responsible for one of the worst famines in India's history. It is a gripping and scholarly investigation into what must count as one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the Empire.

The scarcity, Mukherjee writes, was caused by large-scale exports of food from India for use in the war theatres and consumption in Britain - India exported more than 70,000 tonnes of rice between January and July 1943, even as the famine set in. This would have kept nearly 400,000 people alive for a full year. Mr Churchill turned down fervent pleas to export food to India citing a shortage of ships - this when shiploads of Australian wheat, for example, would pass by India to be stored for future consumption in Europe. As imports dropped, prices shot up and hoarders made a killing. Mr Churchill also pushed a scorched earth policy - which went by the sinister name of Denial Policy - in coastal Bengal where the colonisers feared the Japanese would land. So authorities removed boats (the lifeline of the region) and the police destroyed and seized rice stocks.

Mukherjee tracks down some of the survivors of the famine and paints a chilling tale of the effects of hunger and deprivation. Parents dumped their starving children into rivers and wells. Many took their lives by throwing themselves in front of trains. Starving people begged for the starchy water in which rice had been boiled. Children ate leaves and vines, yam stems and grass. People were too weak even to cremate their loved ones. "No one had the strength to perform rites," a survivor tells Mukherjee. Dogs and jackals feasted on piles of dead bodies in Bengal's villages. The ones who got away were men who migrated to Calcutta for jobs and women who turned to prostitution to feed their families. "Mothers had turned into murderers, village belles into whores, fathers into traffickers of daughters," writes Mukherjee.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a news report on UNDP findings released today:

India lags behind its neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh, on human development indices like life expectancy at birth and mean or average years of schooling, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released Thursday said.

Titled "Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development", the report had a global launch and was released at the UN in New York by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

While India is ranked 119 on the Human Development Index (HDI) among 169 countries -- above Pakistan and Bangladesh which are ranked 125 and 129, respectively -- it lags behind the two on certain development indices.

According to the report, life expectancy at birth in India is 64.4 years, while in Pakistan it is 67.2 years. In Bangladesh, life expectancy is 66.9 years.

Similarly, mean years of schooling in India is 4.4 years while in Pakistan and Bangladesh it is 4.9 and 4.8 years respectively.

Sri Lanka, which is ranked above India on HDI at 91, also fares better than India on the two indices. Its life expectancy at birth is 74.4 years and mean years of schooling is 8.2 years.

On some positive note, in terms of growth of income, India is considered one of the top 10 countries. China is on the top position in this index.

Finance Ministrys chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu, who was present at the India launch of the report, said: "India has a lot of catching up to do. There is scope to do so much better."

Riaz Haq said...

India is emerging as diabetes epicenter, according to Bloomberg:

More than 50 million Indians are struggling with the same frightening predicament. The International Diabetes Federation in October 2009 ranked India as the country with the most diabetics worldwide. The umbrella group of more than 200 national associations estimates that the disease will kill about 1 million Indians this year, more than in any other country.

With 7.1 percent of adults afflicted, India is on a par with developed countries such as Australia, where 7.2 percent of adults suffer. India now fares worse than the U.K., where 4.9 percent are diabetic. In the U.S., where more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, 12.3 percent have diabetes.

Doctors say a perverse twist of science makes Indians susceptible to diabetes and complications such as heart disease and stroke as soon as their living conditions improve. As a decade of 7 percent average annual growth lifts 400 million people into the middle class, bodies primed over generations for poverty, malnutrition and manual labor are leaving Indians ill- prepared for calorie-loaded food or the cars, TVs and computers that sap physical activity.

Researchers are finding the pattern begins before birth: Underfed mothers produce small, undernourished babies with metabolisms equipped for deprivation and unable to cope with plenty. Sonar’s mother, a widow who spent her life in a village and raised seven children by doing farm work, was active and healthy into her 70s, Sonar says.

Riaz Haq said...

Diabetes is exploding worldwide, according to International Diabetes Federation:

Diabetes now affects seven percent of the world’s adult population. The regions with the highest comparative prevalence rates are North America, where 10.2 % of the adult population have diabetes, followed by the Middle East and North Africa Region with 9.3%. The regions with the highest number of people living with diabetes are Western Pacific, where some 77 million people have diabetes and South East Asia with 59 million.

India is the country with the most people with diabetes, with a current figure of 50.8 million, followed by China with 43.2 million. Behind them the United States (26.8 million); the Russian Federation (9.6 million); Brazil (7.6 million); Germany (7.5 million); Pakistan (7.1 million); Japan (7.1 million); Indonesia (7 million) and Mexico (6.8 million).

When it comes to the percentage of adult population living with diabetes, the new data reveal the devastating impact of diabetes across the Gulf Region, where five of the Gulf States are among the top ten countries affected. The Pacific island nation of Nauru has the world’s highest rate of diabetes, with almost a third of its adult population (30.9%) living with the disease. It is followed by the United Arab Emirates (18.7%); Saudi Arabia (16.8%); Mauritius (16.2%); Bahrain (15.4%); Reunion (15.3%); Kuwait (14.6%); Oman (13.4%); Tonga (13.4%) and Malaysia (11.6%).

Riaz Haq said...

Countries like BRIC nations with rapid economic growth are often promoted by the likes of Goldman Sachs and New York Times, while nations with top social induicators but low economic growth are dismissed as less important.

Steven Hill discusses this situation by comparing US with Japan in a piece he wrote for Common Dreams.

Here are some excerpts from it:

Look at it this way: In the midst of the Great Recession, the United States is suffering through nearly 10% unemployment and 50 million people without health insurance. A new report has found over 14% of Americans living below the poverty line, including 20% of children and 23% of seniors, the highest since President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. That's in addition to declining prospects for the middle class, and a general increase in economic insecurity.

How, then, should we regard a country that has 5% unemployment, healthcare for all its people, the lowest income inequality and is one of the world's leading exporters? This country also scores high on life expectancy, low on infant mortality, is at the top in literacy, and is low on crime, incarceration, homicides, mental illness and drug abuse. It also has a low rate of carbon emissions, doing its part to reduce global warming. In all these categories, this particular country beats both the U.S. and China by a country mile.

Doesn't that sound like a country from which Americans might learn a thing or two about how to get out of the mud hole in which we are stuck?

Not if that place is Japan. During and before the current economic crisis, few countries have been vilified as an economic basket case as much as the Land of the Rising Sun. Google "Japan and its economy" and you will get numerous hits about Japan's allegedly sclerotic economy, its zombie banks, its deflation and slow economic growth. This malaise has even been called "Japan syndrome", sounding like a disease to warn policymakers, as in "you don't want to end up like Japan."

Riaz Haq said...

Countries like BRIC nations with rapid economic growth are often promoted by the likes of Goldman Sachs and New York Times, while nations with top social induicators but low economic growth are dismissed as less important.

Steven Hill discusses this situation by comparing US with Japan in a piece he wrote for Common Dreams.

Here are some excerpts from it:

Look at it this way: In the midst of the Great Recession, the United States is suffering through nearly 10% unemployment and 50 million people without health insurance. A new report has found over 14% of Americans living below the poverty line, including 20% of children and 23% of seniors, the highest since President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. That's in addition to declining prospects for the middle class, and a general increase in economic insecurity.

How, then, should we regard a country that has 5% unemployment, healthcare for all its people, the lowest income inequality and is one of the world's leading exporters? This country also scores high on life expectancy, low on infant mortality, is at the top in literacy, and is low on crime, incarceration, homicides, mental illness and drug abuse. It also has a low rate of carbon emissions, doing its part to reduce global warming. In all these categories, this particular country beats both the U.S. and China by a country mile.

Doesn't that sound like a country from which Americans might learn a thing or two about how to get out of the mud hole in which we are stuck?

Not if that place is Japan. During and before the current economic crisis, few countries have been vilified as an economic basket case as much as the Land of the Rising Sun. Google "Japan and its economy" and you will get numerous hits about Japan's allegedly sclerotic economy, its zombie banks, its deflation and slow economic growth. This malaise has even been called "Japan syndrome", sounding like a disease to warn policymakers, as in "you don't want to end up like Japan."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some exerpts of a review by Ashok Mitra of Amit Bhaduri's "The Face You Were Afraid to See" as published in Calcutta's Telegraph:

Surely Amit Bhaduri is dead wrong. His recent book bears the title, The Face You Were Afraid to See. The “face” he has in mind is the stark reality of destitution, malnutrition, illiteracy and joblessness which is still the fate of a huge lot of citizens in independent India. The “you” Bhaduri addresses his epistle to are the roughly 10 — at most 15 — per cent of the nation at the top of the social ladder who, thanks to economic liberalization, had never had it so good: industrial tycoons, financial conglomerates, ruling politicians and assorted hangers-on of each of these species, including the media and the so-called intelligentsia. These latter categories, Bhaduri seems to assume, are scared to come face to face with the other India, the India of progressive immiserization and ruthless exploitation. Quite the contrary. For the first time since the British left, the richer layer of society has come to acquire an extraordinary self-confidence. The lurid contrast between how, on the one hand, its members are indulging themselves at spas, shopping malls, five star hotels and golf links and, on the other, the fact that at least 300 million of their countrymen exist at subhuman levels and, perhaps another 300 million or thereabouts, while not exactly starving, are bereft of a minimum of housing, education and healthcare, does not disturb them. The bizarre combination of happenings like India slipping down every year in the human development index constructed by the United Nations even as it attains the dubious distinction of having the largest number of billionaires after the United States of America is taken in its stride. More than half of Mumbai’s population lives in ramshackle jhoparpattys; awareness of this grim fact does not deter a tycoon from building in the city the obscenity of a mansion costing more than Rs 5,000 crore as his residential abode. Consider yet another instance. The loss to the national exchequer because of the 2G spectrum shenanigan, the comptroller and auditor general has estimated, is around Rs 1,80,000 crore. A public distribution programme covering the entire national population, which could reach food to each and every starving citizen of this country, would cost only one-half of that sum. But the powers that be are unwilling to endorse the programme; they even have the effrontery to suggest that public distribution reeks of corruption...
Bhaduri unravels these complex themes with an equal measure of acuity and elegance in The Face You Were Afraid to See. As one who identifies himself with the bottom 90 per cent of the community, he is, however, not satisfied with mere analysis; he is, so to say, stripped for action. And he has his own ideas regarding what activism should consist of. The established political parties, Bhaduri is convinced, are in cohorts with the ruling hegemony. He has equal contempt for the organized trade unions; these are, in his view, interested only in their own narrow interests and ignore such issues as the plight of villagers dispossessed of their cultivable land. He apparently forgets that the trade union movement, too, is itself a victim of the Machiavellian growth model fathered by economic liberalization. Any way, salvation, Bhaduri suggests, lies only in initiatives on the part of civil society groups in different spheres; these will then come together and accomplish the heroic task of smashing to smithereens the conspiracy hatched by corporate bosses and their crony politicians.

Riaz Haq said...

After Congresswoman Gifford's attempted murder in heavily Republican Arizona, maybe liberals in America better start to worry?!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1345386/Gabrielle-Giffords-shot-Congresswoman-fighting-life-Arizona-gunman-identified-Jared-Loughner.html

Safeway massacre: Congresswoman shot in head at point blank range and judge murdered as 18 are shot in Arizona gun rampage

Read more:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1345386/Gabrielle-Giffords-shot-Congresswoman-fighting-life-Arizona-gunman-identified-Jared-Loughner.html#ixzz1AUMdU5NZ

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC's Soutik Biswas's review of "India: A Portrait" by historian Patrick French arguing that India is becoming a hereditary monarchy:

Is India sliding into a pseudo monarchy of sorts? In his splendid new book, India: A Portrait, historian Patrick French dredges up some startling data on the stranglehold of family and lineage on Indian politics.

The research finds that though less than a third of India's parliamentarians had a hereditary connection, things get worse with the younger MPs. Consider this:

Every MP in the Lok Sabha or the lower house of the Indian parliament under the age of 30 had inherited a seat.
More than two thirds of the 66 MPs aged 40 or under are hereditary MPs.
Every Congress MP under the age of 35 was a hereditary MP.
Nearly 40% of the 66 ministers who are members of the Lok Sabha were hereditary members.
Nearly 70% of the women MPs have family connections.
Interestingly, for MPs over 50, the proportion with a father or relative in politics was a rather modest 17.9%. But when you looked at those aged 50 or under, this increased by more than two and a half times to nearly half, or 47.2%.

Also most of the younger hereditary MPs - and ministers - have not made a mark and sometimes have been shockingly conservative in their actions. A young MP from feudal Haryana, for example, was seen to be cosying up to extra-constitutional village councils in the state which were punishing couples for marrying outside their caste and clan.

"If the trend continued," concludes French, "it was possible that most members of the Indian Parliament would be there by heredity alone, and the nation would be back to where it had started before the freedom struggle, with rule by a hereditary monarch and assorted Indian princelings." He also worries the next Lok Sabha will be a "house of dynasts".

Most agree that growing nepotistic and lineage-based power in the world's largest democracy is a matter of concern. "The idea of India," political scientist Mahesh Rangarajan told me, "is rent apart by these two contradictory impulses."

But nepotism is a part of India life; and politics mirrors society. Power, wealth, land and status have hinged to a large extent on who your parents were, what they owned and where they stood in society. Most Indian businesses continue to be owned and run by families though the new economy is throwing up more first generation entrepreneurs. Bollywood, India's thriving film industry, is dominated by sons and daughters of famous actors and producers. Three members of one family - Nehru-Gandhi - have held the post of prime minister. If the Congress party wins the next elections and PM Manmohan Singh steps down, there is a likelihood of the dynast Rahul Gandhi becoming India's next prime minister. (It is no surprise that 37% of the MPs - 78 of 208 - in Congress are hereditary compared to only 19% hereditary MPs - 22 of the 116 - in the main opposition BJP.)

Despite French's troubling data, all may not be lost. "Please remember," Dr Rangarajan told me, "the MPs have lineage as a huge plus, but the posts are not hereditary." In other words, if they fail to deliver, they will be voted out of power. Merit triumphed over dynasty in the recent elections in dirt-poor Bihar. So though lineage remains a key factor in politics, remind analysts, it can only give a headstart, and nothing more. Thank democracy for that.

Riaz Haq said...

Chandran Nair argues in his book "Consumptionomics" that the Asians need to rethink the whole idea of western-style consumer-driven capitalism to ensure a better, more sustainable future for their massive population.

Here are some excepts from Financial Times review of the book "Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet":

, -- Life might not be as much fun in his world as it is for the lucky ones who become wealthy under liberal capitalism. “Golf and car racing might be out but badminton and social dancing are more popular,” he suggests in his vision of leisure time in a Nairian society. But the benefits of development would be spread more widely, damage to the earth’s resources would be controlled and people would probably spend less time working.

Nair’s starting point is that the world simply cannot survive the consequences of the growth of highly populous Asian economies to levels of development reached by industrialised countries if that is to be achieved on the same resource-guzzling terms as western development.
-------------
Throughout the book, Nair evinces an angry disdain for western-style capitalism, which he regards as setting the world on a path to destruction by its devotion to the ideology of markets and its voracious appetite for finite resources. He’s none too complimentary either about its media cheerleaders, including this newspaper.

“The biggest lie of all is that consumption-driven capitalism can deliver wealth to all,” he writes. “In Asia it can only deliver short-term wealth to a minority; in the long term, it can only deliver misery to all. This is the intellectual dishonesty at the heart of the model the west has peddled to Asia.”

Nair points to the familiar issue of energy use, saying that if Asia’s population was to use as much energy per person as Europeans do today (relatively modest compared to Americans), then it would use eight to nine times as much energy as the US currently consumes. Perhaps more startling is an estimate he uses for poultry consumption. Americans will eat 9bn birds this year, apparently. If by 2050 Asians ate the same amount per person, they would swallow more than 120bn. That’s a lot of battery chickens.

Nor is Nair impressed by arguments that technology will ultimately solve issues such as energy shortages and climate change, allowing economic growth and consumption to go on expanding. He dismisses the notion that Asia should concentrate on growth and then, when it is rich, clean up afterwards. What he demands is a radical change in the prevailing global economic model and its governance.
-----------
But the shape of a Nairian Asia does emerge. It would be made up of strong nation-state governments willing to take unilateral action on issues such as controlling natural resource exploitation and domestic agriculture and industry. Governments would get bigger and spend more with an emphasis on sustainable infrastructure such as public transport. Carbon, natural resources and financial transactions would be taxed – possibly allowing for a reduction or elimination of payroll taxes. Agriculture would be deindustrialised, with a drive to return to labour-intensive farming to ensure sufficient output and stop mass migration to cities.

What would life be like for the individual? They would be expected to forgo owning a car, would pay high prices for meat and restaurant portions would be restricted. But income differentials would be minimised and access to the benefits of technology widely shared.

He doesn’t say it but Nair is describing a kind of Asian Norway, with the benefits of natural resources controlled and socialised to a high degree, rural communities subsidised to keep people on the land, fisheries protected, a high commitment to energy efficiency and high taxation to support high levels of social welfare.

Riaz Haq said...

Is India too wealthy for British aid? asks the BBC:

Bihar children being fed under a government scheme More than a million children in Bihar suffer from severe malnutrition
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories

* How UK overseas aid will be spent
* 'More poor' in India than Africa
* Ignoring India's 'republic of hunger'

Britain's decision to give £280m ($457m) in annual aid to India for the next four years has prompted questions in the UK about whether India needs the aid these days. The BBC's Geeta Pandey travels to the northern state of Bihar to see where a sizeable chunk of the British money will be spent.

About two dozen children squat in a narrow lane separating mud and brick homes in Madhaopur village.

It's a hot sunny afternoon and the children sit facing each other, hugging the wall where a thin sliver of shade keeps them out of direct sunshine.

A woman puts steel plates in front of each child, another ladles out khichdi - a rice and lentil dish - onto each plate.

Within minutes, the chattering ceases and the children begin to eat hungrily, scooping out khichdi with their hands and putting it in their mouths.

Ideally, the children should be served inside the Anganwadi (government sponsored child development) centre, but the pokey, window-less room that passes for the centre is too small to accommodate them all.
'Malnourished'

The building provides pre-school education to children between three and six years and gives them one cooked meal a day to supplement their nutritional needs.

"Nearly 50% children here are malnourished," says Geeta Verma, who is part of the technical assistance team of DfiD (Department for International Development).
A baby being vaccinated in Bihar DfiD supports vaccination programmes in the villages of Bihar

"They are given a daily meal by the Anganwadi workers. It's a naturally fortified meal - for proteins we use lentils, for micronutrients, we use leafy vegetables," she explains.

Research has shown that the diet in Bihar leaves children with a 300-calorie deficit and this meal aims to bridge that gap.

"This meal provides each child with 300 calories and 10 grams of protein," Ms Verma says.

The team has helped prepare the menu and has been coaching the women in the important role nutrition plays in the physical and mental growth of their children.

In Madhaopur, DfiD is also supervising and assisting with immunisation of babies and has helped with a project to teach illiterate women.
'Too wealthy?'

Since being opened up in 1991, the Indian economy has grown rapidly. And at a time when most economies around the world are in recession, India's continues to grow at an enviable 9%. This has helped lift millions out of poverty.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
Sangeeta Kumari

Bluntly speaking we are struggling for existence, we are trying to perform our best in the midst of a crisis. We have very poor infrastructure.”

End Quote Sangeeta Kumari Bihar government official

This has led to some in the UK wondering if India is too wealthy to qualify for receiving aid. They say the £280m could be put to better use in Britain where the economy is ailing and many services are being cut back.

Critics also point out that India has 69 dollar billionaires; it has its own space programme; plans to send a man to the Moon; spends billions of dollars annually on defence; and even has its own overseas aid programme.

But India has its areas of darkness too - according to World Bank estimates, 456 million live on less than $1.25 a day; tens of millions of children suffer from acute malnutrition; millions of Indians are illiterate; hundreds of thousands continue to die of totally preventable causes; and eight million children remain out of school.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a Sydney Morning Herald piece on India:

..India's euphoric victory in this month's cricket world cup final fits with a mood that its time has come. "The World at Our Feet," screamed a headline in The Times of India the morning after triumph.

And yet the numbers show India is a very poor world power. Its per capita income is $US1265 ($1207) according the International Monetary Fund's latest estimate. That's less than one third of China's and just 2.7 per cent of America's. The 2010 United Nations Human Development Index, a measure that combines income, education and life expectancy, ranked India at 119th out of 169 countries. That's only one place above East Timor. China was 30 places higher than India and Russia was 54 places up the list.

In India, more than 700 million people survive on less than $US2 a day and about 42 per cent of children aged five or less are under-weight. A UN report found there are 421 million Indians living in ''multi-dimensional'' poverty, a greater number than in Africa's 26 poorest countries combined.

Rapid economic change in India has created confronting anomalies. High-tech wizardry and medieval squalor live side by side. It is possible to access fast wireless broadband in villages where children are dying of starvation and thanks to the explosive growth of mobiles, more Indians probably have access to phone calls than toilets.

There is mounting evidence that the spoils of economic growth have become disproportionately concentrated among a small group of super-rich industrialists. Research by the former World Bank economist Michael Walton shows the combined worth of India's US dollar billionaires rose from the equivalent of 1.7 per cent of India's gross domestic product in 1999 to a peak of 23 per cent in 2008.

India's economic miracle, so often lauded abroad, is contested at home. Three of India's 28 states have communist governments. Leftist political parties, critical of India's economic trajectory, are an influential force in politics. India's dynamic volunteer sector, which includes tens of thousands of non-government organisations, has produced an army of activists who decry the social and environmental damage being done amid India's rapid development.

The sense of alienation and anger among India's poor has helped stoke a bloody Maoist rebellion in its most destitute regions. These insurgents - called Naxals after the eastern Indian village of Naxalbari where the movement began - are active in more than one-third of India's 626 districts. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has branded them ''the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country''.

---------

The World Bank estimates the proportion of Indians living on less than $US1 per day (in 2005 purchasing power parity) fell from 42 per cent in 1981 to 24 per cent in 2005 but population growth meant the actual number of people living below that poverty benchmark was only reduced from 296 million to 266 million in that period.

In a new book, the British writer and historian Patrick French criticises journalists who "make a living by reporting ceaseless tales of woe" from the subcontinent. He is right to challenge the outdated stereotype of India as a poverty-stricken basket case but the media obsession with India's growth rate, urban middle-class and super-rich entrepreneurs can also be misleading.
------------
Some analysts have attributed an apparent middle-class disengagement from mainstream politics to the power exerted by poorer ''vote blocks''. Very low voter turnouts in wealthy neighbourhoods of Mumbai and Delhi are cited as evidence of this apathy. But if the middle class cannot hold sway at the ballot box, it exerts influence in other ways.--------

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Ananya Vajpeyi titled "Notes on Swaraj":

In my view, it is precisely because
India experiences itself as economically and militarily on the ascendant that a re-thinking of cultural, political and moral selfhood is timely. It is also
appropriate to return to Gandhi
because so much of India – its poor, its minorities, its separatist and dissenting
constituencies in Kashmir and the
Northeast – remain outside the consensus view of its superpower status. An Indian sovereignty that bans millions of citizens in zones of exception and abandons them to the most egregious forms of violence and deprivation is not consistent with the idea of swaraj.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's another piece by Ananya Vajpeyi on exceptions to Indian "constitutional democracy":

By enforcing extraordinary laws, by sending in armed forces, by granting impunity to soldiers and paramilitaries for their actions against armed or unarmed civilians, by denying citizens redress, justice or compensation, by creating a war-like situation for a population that has political, social, cultural and economic grievances possible to address without force, it is the state that sets aside the Constitution. The Indian state has done this too many times, in too many places, and for too long.

It is time for citizens in the so-called ‘normal’ parts of the country to consider how they want to defend their Constitution against such misuse and ill-treatment by the state, a procedure that leaves millions of people exposed to both everyday as well as excessive violence, and ultimately turns them against India. If the Indian Union sees any attrition to its territory in the coming years on account of separatism and civil strife (not such an unlikely scenario as hawkish policy-makers like to believe), this will have come to pass at least partly because the state allowed the cancer of exception to eat away at the body politic, and did not administer the medicine of constitutional reinstatement and restitution in time. It bears repeating that periodic exercises in the electoral process do not always prove to be a sufficient counterweight to the toxic effects of the AFSPA, even if elections are relatively free and fair (a tough challenge), and even if significant percentages of the relevant populations do turn out to vote.

The state’s reasoning for why military, paramilitary and police must replace civil agencies in the work of everyday governance, a step which can and does go horribly wrong, is that disruptive violence (from secessionist and insurgent groups) has to be met with restorative counter-violence (from the state) in order to ensure overall security for the population, and preserve the integrity of the Union of India. Defenders of the AFSPA insist that this is a sound rationale. But inevitably, questions arise: What are the limits of the immunity that such an extraordinary law grants to the armed forces, when does the justifiable control of terror become overkill, and when should a quantitative assessment about the necessary degree of force give way to a qualitative judgment about whether force is necessary at all, over and above alternative – peaceful – means of addressing the situation?

There appears to be a dire need for a system of checks-and-balances, perhaps also originating from the Constitution, to be instituted, so that the explicitly democratic mandate of the Indian republic may be strengthened against an always lurking authoritarian tendency (a legacy of the post-colonial state’s colonialist and imperialist predecessor).


http://udayprakash05.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-people-of-india-are-skeptical.html

Riaz Haq said...

Overall, the latest World Bank data shows that India's poverty rate of 27.5%, based on India's current poverty line of $1.03 per person per day, is more than 10 percentage points higher than Pakistan's 17.2%. Assam (urban), Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are the only three Indian states with lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.

Riaz Haq said...

The Indian economy is in trouble, says Ramtanu Maitra:

Although the economy continues to show high GDP growth, there is a growing disparity between India's sea of poor people and the few at the top of the heap. Out-of-control inflation, caused by the inflow of billions of dollars in hot money, combined with poor productivity due to weak physical infrastructure has resulted in corruption of unimaginable proportions, which has eaten away the gains made earlier. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who heads a group of disparate political parties under the banner of the United Progressive Alliance, is busy keeping the coalition government in power by doing little to prevent further deterioration of the nation's economy.
On June 16, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised its benchmark lending rates for the tenth time in 18 months, as a monetary measure to slow down the rampaging inflation monster, which has already greatly hurt the poor, and is now beginning to hit the middle class, which had benefitted in recent years from the GDP growth and wage rise. The earlier nine such monetary measures within the past 18-month period did not slow down inflation. It is inevitable that the high interest rates will attract more short-term hot money into the country, spurring a faster rate of inflation in the coming days.
India has earned the distinction of incurring the highest inflation of major emerging markets. On June 14, the Singh government said inflation had increased 9.1% in May, compared with a year earlier, a rate higher than expected. High inflation was first observed two years ago in the rise of food prices that affected India's poor the most. But since India's hundreds of millions of poor have little voice in directing New Delhi's economic policies, for the greater part of the last two years such inflation was pooh-poohed by Indian economists, accusing the growing army of the middle class of "over-consumption of food." Now, inflation has shown up everywhere, once again, proving the shortsightedness of those economists.
What this picture, which I elaborate below, underscores, is the inescapable truth that if a fundamental shift away from the monetarist system is not initiated in the United States, and soon, we are looking at the literal devastation of the largest population centers in the world, such as India and China. This is, in fact, the concern of all humanity - and must be stopped.
The Growing Anti-Poor Bias Unwilling to change course, and stubbornly defending the failed economic policy, New Delhi is still harping on India's high GDP growth rate. The New York Times reported on June 15, that Kaushik Basu, the government's chief economic advisor, said, in an interview on June 13, that inflation was a problem that all developing countries were facing. "If you look at emerging economies around the world," Basu said, "India's performance looks pretty run of the mill."
But, neither Basu nor others in the Singh government are interested in taking a good look at the damage done by their strictly money-obsessed policies. "The last two years have been a lost opportunity" for India's governing United Progressive Alliance party, Citigroup said this month in a research report.
This monetarist obsession has given rise to full blown inflation across the spectrum. The unprecedented price rise in basic food items is severely impacting hundreds of millions of Indians. Despite the shouting by the globalizers, investment bankers, and their followers within India, millions of Indian families live on a daily diet which consists of cereal - rice, or wheat flour, or both - some vegetables, including onion, and a variety of lentil, or other similar items. Lentils provide the only significant source of protein they have access to, since they cannot afford to buy other high-protein foods, and this includes a large number of people who are non-vegetarians.. .....

Riaz Haq said...

India fares worst in terms of low birth weight and underweight children, and under-five infant mortality compared to Brazil, Russia and all South Asian neighbors, says BBC's Soutik Biswas:

Will the proposed law to provide cheap food to more than half of India's people eliminate hunger, the most shameful scourge of an aspiring superpower?

The jury is still out on how the $19bn (£12bn) scheme will work, as is the case with similar big-ticket welfare schemes launched by what many believe is an endemically weak and corrupt state.

But there is little doubt that India needs to fight malnutrition on a war footing, and the food security scheme may well be its last chance to redeem itself.

Many believe that it does not behove a country which never tires of gloating about its red hot economic growth to have millions of malnourished and starving people.

The facts on the ground are startling. India has the largest number of malnourished children in the world, a rate worse than the average in Africa.

Nearly half of India's children under three are malnourished. More than half of the tribes' children are underweight and stunted.

India fares worst in terms of low birth weight and underweight children, and under-five infant mortality compared to Brazil, Russia and all South Asian neighbours.

India also has the highest number of Vitamin A deficient children in the world: nearly 6% of the children suffer from eye problems related to the deficiency. Of the 37m people in the world who are blind, about 15m are from India. More than 320,000 children suffer from avoidable blindness.
----------
Then there are India's notoriously fickle public distribution system shops aimed at providing food security to people. Over 500m people are supposed to benefit through a gigantic distribution network of half a million fair-price shops supplying cheap food grains.

Here too, the results are mixed and contested. In many states, it has failed to make cheap food grains available to the poor. Theft of supplies, fraudulent beneficiaries and hoarding by the shop-owners is not uncommon.
Cart before horse?

So will the latest food security scheme aimed at providing subsidised food grains to 75% of the rural population and half of the urban households work?

There are many economists who wonder how India will cough up the funds to finance the scheme which will see the country's food subsidy bill climb to $19bn from $13bn. The government insists money will not be a problem.

There are also questions about how beneficiaries will be identified and targeted in a transparent manner in a country where there are different official estimates of the poorest of the poor - from 37% to 77% of the people, depending on whom you believe.

India's state-run cold storage system is shambolic, so where is the guarantee that some 65m tonnes of food grains procured from farmers for distribution for the scheme - up from 55m tonnes presently - will not rot before reaching the beneficiary? How can the food grains be distributed through the leaky public distribution system shops without reforming them?

So is India again putting the cart before the horse? Without reforming its laws and public institutions, welfare schemes with the best intentions run the risk of floundering.

For the scheme to work, the government will need to target beneficiaries properly and revamp the distribution system. The public distribution system, for example, could be made accountable by issuing smart cards to beneficiaries to eliminate bogus cards and fraudulent withdrawal.

If the food security scheme does not work, economists believe, India is doomed to remain a hungry republic. It is already one of the fast-growing economies with the hungriest people in the world. And it can get worse.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16291300

Riaz Haq said...

The number of hungry people has dropped in India with its score on the Global Hunger Index improving to 63rd position in 2013, but the country still lags behind China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-10-14/news/43027402_1_hunger-index-hunger-levels-ghi-score

http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Global%20Hunger%20Index%202013.pdf