Friday, October 16, 2020

India Tops South Asia Hunger Chart Amid COVID19 Pandemic

India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asian have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. The COVID19 pandemic has worsened India's hunger and malnutrition. Tens of thousands of Indian children were forced to go to sleep on an empty stomach as the daily wage workers lost their livelihood and Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the South Asian nationPakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan opted for "smart lockdown" that reduced the impact on daily wage earners. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 

World Hunger Rankings 2020. Source: World Hunger Index Report



India Among Worst Hit: 

India has 17.3% child wasting rate, the worst in South Asia region. Child stunting is also extremely high across South Asia. “Data from 1991 through 2014 for Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan showed that stunting is concentrated among children from households facing multiple forms of deprivation, including poor dietary diversity, low levels of maternal education, and household poverty,” the World Hunger Report said. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 

Hunger and malnutrition are worsening in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in low-income communities or those already stricken by continued conflict. 


India has performed particularly poorly because of one of the world's strictest lockdowns imposed by Prime Minister Modi to contain the spread the virus. 

Global Epicenters of Covid19. Source: Bloomberg



Global Food Prices:

Global food prices are soaring by double digits amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bloomberg News. Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. These rapid price rises are hitting the people in Pakistan and the rest of the world hard.  In spite of these hikes, Pakistan remains among the least expensive places for food, according recent studies. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to rise up to the challenge and relieve the pain inflicted on the average Pakistani consumer.  

Global Agricultural Futures Contracts. Source: Bloomberg

Global Food Prices:

Global food prices are increasing at least partly due to several nations buying basic food commodities to boost their strategic reserves in the midst of the pandemic.  A Bloomberg News report says that "agricultural commodity buyers from Cairo to Islamabad have been on a shopping spree since the Covid-19 pandemic upended supply chains".  It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. Here's an excerpt of the Bloomberg story:

"Agricultural prices have been on the rise as countries stepped up purchases, adding to demand from China and a drought in the Black Sea region. That has helped push the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, which measures key farm goods futures contracts, up almost 20% since June. Sugar prices have gained a boost as China replenished stockpiles, said Geovane Consul, chief executive officer of a Brazilian sugar and ethanol joint venture between U.S. agribusiness giant Bunge Ltd. and British oil major BP Plc." 

Supply Constraint in Pakistan: 

The Pakistan Government estimates final wheat production ended up at 25.5 million tons, slightly above the five-year average of 25.38 million tons, according to Grain Central. While that represented a 1.2 million tons increase on the 24.3 million tons harvested in 2019, it was well short of the government’s target of 27 million tons, forcing Pakistan to import wheat at higher global prices.

Demand for fruits and vegetables is also rising at about 9.5% a year, according to Mordor Intelligence. The supply is falling short of demand, putting pressure on prices. 


Global Food Price Comparison. Source: Bayut



Food Prices in Pakistan:

The food prices have risen 14% for urban and 16.8% for rural areas of Pakistan in the last 12 months, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. In spite of this inflationary trend,  the grocery prices in Pakistan remain among the lowest in the world. A comparison by Dubai-based Bayut shows that groceries in Pakistan cost 72.9% less than in the United States. Other least-expensive countries for groceries include Tunisia ( 67% less), Ukraine ( 66.7% less), Egypt (65.6% less) and Kosovo (65.6% less). 

Globally, Switzerland sells the most expensive groceries, with prices 79.1% higher than in the U.S. Norway is the second most expensive place to buy groceries, with prices 37.4% more expensive than in the U.S., and Iceland is third most expensive, where food items are 36.6% pricier, according to Bayut.

Cost of Dining Out. Source: Commodity.com


Summary:

India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020.  China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger.  Other South Asian have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. However, global food price hikes have also hit average Pakistani hard in spite of the fact that grocery prices in Pakistan remain the lowest the world.  Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. World food commodity prices are increasing at least partly due to several nations buying basic food commodities to boost their strategic reserves in the midst of the pandemic. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to intervene in the markets to relieve the average Pakistani consumer's pain. 

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Soaring prices of agricultural products are stoking food-security jitters in China. According to the China’s National Bureau of Statistics, food prices went up by 13 percent in July, compared to the previous July; the price of pork rose about 85 percent. On a year-on-year basis, food prices have increased by 10 percent in 2020 — the price of corn is 20 percent higher and the price of soybeans, 30 percent"

https://thehill.com/opinion/international/516607-another-famine-coming-china-struggles-to-meet-basic-food-demands

Virginia R. said...

Bride-burning accounts for the death of at least one woman every hour in India. A category of dowry death, bride-burning occurs when a young woman is murdered by her husband or his family for her family's refusal to pay additional dowry. ... Bride burning has been recognized as an important problem in India,


India, the shit whole country! – CS Sharada Prasad
sharadaprasad.com › post › shitwholecountry
Very little of human excreta in India is treated. As a result, the whole country is full of shit. Maybe India is the Shit Whole Country of ...


The Indian Dalits attacked for wearing the wrong shoes - BBC ...
www.bbc.com › news › world-asia-india-44517922
Jun 19, 2018 — Over the last month, Dalits (formerly untouchables) across India have been threatened, beaten and killed for seemingly mundane reasons, highlighting again how vulnerable the community is. On Sunday, a groom was threatened for riding a horse to his wedding - because doing so is considered an upper caste privilege.


Christian persecution spikes in Hindu-nationalist India ...
www.baptistpress.com › resource-library › news › chris...


Persecution of Christians continues to rise in India - The Tablet
www.thetablet.co.uk › news › persecution-of-christians-...

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #coronavirus cases nearing 7.5 million with another 62,212 cases over the previous day. #COVID #Modi #BJP #economy https://reut.rs/347x7u5

India’s coronavirus infections rose by another 62,212 cases over the previous day and a local media report said on Saturday that the government had begun identifying about 300 million people who would be given the vaccine first when it is ready.

The Times of India said that frontline health and sanitation workers, police officials and elderly people with co-morbidities will get the vaccine on priority.

The plan, which is still in the draft stage, aims to cover 23% of the population in the first phase. The final plan is likely to be ready by end October-November, the report said.

The selected individuals will be given an estimated 600 million doses.

Earlier this month, health minister Harsh Vardhan had said that India hopes to receive up to 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by July next year to inoculate about 250 million people.

Officials have said that giving the vaccine to India’s 1.3 billion people will be a mammoth exercise, likely to stretch well into 2022.

India’s cumulative tally of coronavirus infections stood at 7.43 million on Saturday, having risen by 62,212 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed.

But the number of active infections slipped below 800,000 for the first time in 1.5 months, which the ministry called a significant achievement.

India has recorded the world’s second-largest number of cases after the United States and worries have been high that there may be further spikes during the ongoing festival season.

Riaz Haq said...

Global #food prices rise as countries stockpile amid worsening #coronavirus #pandemic. In times of uncertainty, people are more likely to hoard. Countries importing grains to boost their pandemic stockpiles include #China, #Egypt, #Jordan, #Taiwan, others. https://www.marketplace.org/2020/10/16/global-food-prices-rise-countries-stockpile-amid-worsening-pandemic/

A number of countries, including China, are stockpiling for an uncertain pandemic season amid concerns over whether the global supply chain for food can remain intact as COVID-19 cases rise worldwide.

World food prices have been rising for four straight months, according to a United Nations price index. Countries importing grains to boost their pandemic stockpiles include Egypt, Jordan, Taiwan and others.

“China comes to mind, as they’ve taken on a massive restocking program,” said Michael Magdovitz, food and agriculture analyst at Rabobank. “But also India. Countries may increase their buffers to avoid any supply-side issues,” such as lockdowns or border closures should the pandemic worsen.

“I think people are trying to protect their own interests, which in some ways is rational,” Preston said. “Even if it can cause what they call a ‘commons problem,’ where then there’s not enough for everybody.”

When the pandemic first hit, governments and food security authorities expressed concerns about food protectionism. That didn’t come to pass globally.

Still, bottlenecks have turned up in developing countries. In South Africa, workers were banned from traveling to a packing plant for citrus, said Thomas Reardon, agricultural economist at Michigan State University.

“Also, because wood was not classed as an essential item, the wood was not coming in to make packing crates, so the fruit could not be packed,” Reardon said.

Globally, the prices of grain and meat continue to rise, just as more and more people can’t afford them given widespread job losses. Sherman Robinson, trade scholar at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said food insecurity is showing up everywhere.

“It’s widespread across developing countries,” Robinson said. “In the developed countries, it really depends on how good your social safety net is. So in the U.S. case, we’re probably among the worst of the developed countries.”

Riaz Haq said...

#India ranks among the world’s worst in terms of #coronavirus, religious bigotry, #humanrights, #hunger, #happiness, #water quality, #AirQuality, #media #freedom, #environment etc. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva



https://twitter.com/aneraokailash/status/1317474161363546115?s=21


Kailash Anerao
@AneraoKailash

India:
94 out of 107-Global Hunger Index
147 out of 157-Oxfam Inequality Index
120 out of 122-Water Quality Index
179 out of 180-Air Quality Index
144 out of 156-UN World Happiness Index
140 out of 180-World Press Freedom Index
167 out of 180-Environmental Performance Index
@hrw

Riaz Haq said...

OXFAM #Inequality Index: #India's #Health Budget Is 4th Lowest In The World; Worse Than #Pakistan, #Nepal Amidst #COVID19 #Pandemic. @trakintech https://trak.in/tags/business/2020/10/13/shocking-indias-health-budget-is-4th-lowest-in-the-world-worse-than-pakistan-nepal/

https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/fighting-inequality-time-covid-19-commitment-reducing-inequality-index-2020

According to the latest ‘Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2020’, report published by the international charity confederation Oxfam on
7 October 2020 , India ranked 155th in a survey consisting of 158 countries, showing that the country spends less than 4% of its budget on health.

The health spending index of India is so poor that even its neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh spend slightly more than 4% of their budget on health.

As per Oxfam’s latest 2020 Index report, of the 158 countries surveyed for checking whether they allocate 15% of their respective budgets on health as recommended, it was found that Nigeria, Bahrain and India were among the lowest rankers, in terms of health spending index.

India secured the 155th spot, sharing its position with Afghanistan, both of which allocated less than 4% of their budget on health.

Speaking of health spending indices, Oxham found that only 28 of these 158 surveyed countries were spending the recommended fraction of 15% of their budgets on health.

The report said, “India’s health budget is the fourth lowest in the world. Just half of its population have access to even the most essential health services”.

The report also mentioned that while the trend of allocating a very small percentage of budget towards health is persistent across South Asian countries,

Pakistan spent a little over 4% of its budget on health, while
Nepal and Bangladesh spent 5%.
The report reads,

“This is particularly damaging when just half of India’s population (55%) has access to even the most essential services, and more than 70% of health spending is being met from household budgets.”

Also, as per the database from the World Bank, in 2017 India dedicated only 3.4% of its expenditure towards health.

Just to get an understanding of comparison, in the same year Japan spent 23.6% of the government budget on health.

Riaz Haq said...

WHICH COUNTRY IS DOING THE MOST TO FIGHT INEQUALITY? by OXFAM
A global ranking of governments based on what they are doing to tackle the gap between rich and poor

http://www.inequalityindex.org/

The Overall Index Score combines all three core pillars on which the index is based: social spending, progressive taxation policies and labour rights.

Pakistan ranks 128 among 158 countries. India ranks 129 & Bangladesh 113.

samir sardana said...

Pakistan Food rates are one of the lowest in the world - on a nominal basis. Better to do a ranking on PPP

The farm gate prices of agri output can be compared on nominal basis as while Pakistan has the benefit of low rents and wages - EU/USA/South America have the advantage of productivity, scale and quality

Pakistan's Food problem is solvable,as it is a marginal player in the global market.

The disaster is India and,perhaps Africa.If the COVID wave resumes here (like in France,UK etc.) then,that will bring disaster to the food prices,across the world esoecially as PRC and USA/EU,will start warehousing,and countries like Australia/Ukranine/Russia will NOT be able to supply

France which sold the Rafale has a daily count of 32000 ! If it spreads to the farms - this model will replicate all over EU - and that will start the food prices spiral

Riaz Haq said...

The Next #China? #India Must First Beat #Bangladesh. India’s #COVID19 #economic gloom turned into despair this week, on news that its per capita gross domestic product (#GDP) may be lower for 2020 than in neighboring Bangladesh https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/the-next-china-india-must-first-beat-bangladesh/2020/10/16/e228a854-1014-11eb-b404-8d1e675ec701_story.html?tid=ss_tw

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1317991276583636993?s=20

Ever since it began opening up the economy in the 1990s, India’s dream has been to emulate China’s rapid expansion. After three decades of persevering with that campaign, slipping behind Bangladesh hurts its global image. The West wants a meaningful counterweight to China, but that partnership will be predicated on India not getting stuck in a lower-middle-income trap.

------------


Consider first the exceptionalism of India’s growth. Bangladesh is doing well because it’s following the path of previous Asian tigers. Its slice of low-skilled goods exports is in line with its share of poor-country working-age population. Vietnam is punching slightly above its weight. But basically, both are taking a leaf out of China’s playbook. The People’s Republic held on to high GDP growth for decades by carving out for itself a far bigger dominance of low-skilled goods manufacturing than warranted by the size of its labor pool.

India, however, has gone the other way, choosing not to produce the things that could have absorbed its working-age population of 1 billion into factory jobs. “India’s missing production in the key low-skill textiles and clothing sector amounts to $140 billion, which is about 5% of India’s GDP,” the authors say.

If half of India’s computer software exports in 2019 ceased to exist, there would be a furor. But that $60 billion loss would have been the same as the foregone exports annually from low-skill production. It’s real, and yet nobody wants to talk about it. Policymakers don’t want to acknowledge that the shoes and apparel factories that were never born — or were forced to close down — could also have earned dollars and created mass employment. They would have provided a pathway for permanent rural-to-urban migration in a way that jobs that require higher levels of education and training never can. Bangladesh has two out of five women of working age in the labor force, double India’s 21% participation rate.

Riaz Haq said...

#India in denial. India is neither comparable to the traditional superpower, #US, nor to an emerging superpower, #China...not even equivalent to its immediate neighbors #Bangladesh, #Pakistan, #SriLanka, #Nepal in many development indicators. - Asia Times https://asiatimes.com/2020/10/india-is-nowhere-in-the-world-denial-wont-work/

The elite in New Delhi delude themselves by thinking the country can hold its own on the world stage
By BHIM BHURTEL
OCTOBER 20, 2020

Despite Indian strategists’ claim that India is an aspirant global power, it is at the bottom in South Asia except for war-torn Afghanistan in the GHI ranking.

The report suggests that India ranks 94th out of 104 countries listed. India shares the same rank as Sudan, in the red zone. That means India’s hunger situation is in the “alarming” category. India’s South Asian peers rank as follows: Sri Lanka 64, Nepal 73, Bangladesh 75, and Pakistan 88.


---------

The perceptions of Indian political leaders and top bureaucrats about their country’s position in the world appear far removed from reality.

These elites appear not to be mindful of the republic’s fundamental purposes envisaged in the constitution. And they seem lost to their duty and function to the people.

Yet they want to attempt a massive task that is beyond their economic, technological, political, military and strategic capacity.

----------
India is unable to feed its kids and yet dreams of being a global strategic player.

Second, I read a report by Andy Mukherjee in Bloomberg Business dated October 17. The headline is fascinating: “The next China? India must first beat Bangladesh.”

Mukherjee writes: “Ever since it began opening up the economy in the 1990s, India’s dream has been to emulate China’s rapid expansion. After three decades of persevering with that campaign, slipping behind Bangladesh hurts its global image. The West wants a meaningful counterweight to China, but that partnership will be predicated on India not getting stuck in a lower-middle-income trap.”

The third report I skimmed was published earlier but is still relevant. The Davos-based World Economic Forum (WEF) started to publish the World Inclusive Development Report (IDI) in 2017.

The WEF says IDI is designed as an alternative to GDP and reflects more closely the criteria by which people evaluate their countries’ economic progress. The IDI 2018 ranking suggested that India is again at the bottom. In the IDI ranking of 74 states in the Emerging Economies category, Nepal ranks No 22, Bangladesh 34, Sri Lanka 40, Pakistan 47, and India 62.

Besides, India, the world’s largest functional democracy, is not a role model for other countries in South Asia, even for its human-rights record. Amnesty International’s recent closure of its operations in India confirms this.

These reports show that India is neither comparable to the traditional superpower, the US, nor to an emerging superpower, China. It is also not equal to a middle-power country like Japan or Germany. It is not even equivalent to its immediate neighbors Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal in many development indicators.

India lags its South Asian peers. Therefore, India is not a role model in the South Asia region, either in economic performance or in socioeconomic development. Recently, South Asian countries have been looking to China with hope rather than India because of India’s poor image. A country with a lower socioeconomic development ranking cannot be a role model for higher-ranked countries.

Indian leaders’ and bureaucrats’ denials won’t work for India. The sooner India accepts that it lags far behind superpowers, middle-power countries and its immediate neighbors, the sooner it will start fixing its economy.

Hubris of being a global player may be useful for Indian leaders and officials but it won’t help the people.

Riaz Haq said...

Dirty air: how #India became the most polluted country on earth. World's 10 dirtiest cities are all in India. #pollution #disease #China #Pakistan #Asia https://ig.ft.com/india-pollution/

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1319724406747246592?s=20

The problem is most acute in India but it is not alone. The Financial Times collated Nasa satellite data of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — a measure of air quality — and mapped it against population density data from the European Commission to develop a global overview of the number of people affected by this type of dangerous pollution.

The results are alarming: not just the number of people breathing in polluted air, but those breathing air contaminated with particulates that are multiple times over the level deemed safe — 10 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre — by the World Health Organisation.

The data show that more than 4.2bn people in Asia are breathing air many times dirtier than the WHO safe limit. It only takes into account areas that are populated to avoid skewing the numbers for countries such as China and Russia that have vast unpopulated regions.

Historically China has grabbed most headlines for poor air quality. But as the time-lapse video of PM2.5 pollution between 1998 and 2016 shows, India is now in a far worse state than its larger neighbour ever was.


The 2016 data, the latest available, show that, although both countries have a similar number of people breathing air above the safe limit, India has far more people living in heavily polluted areas. At least 140m people in India are breathing air 10 times or more over the WHO safe limit.

A study published in The Lancet has estimated that in 2017 air pollution killed 1.24m Indians — half of them younger than 70, which lowers the country’s average life expectancy by 1.7 years. The 10 most polluted cities in the world are all in northern India.

Top officials in prime minister Narendra Modi’s government have suggested New Delhi’s air is little dirtier than that in other major capitals such as London.

Harsh Vardhan, India’s environment minister and a doctor, has played down the health consequences of dirty air, insisting it is mainly a concern for those with pre-existing lung conditions. But that appears to fly in the face of international studies that show that air pollution has a wide-ranging impact, including an elevated risk for heart attacks and strokes, increased risk of asthma, reduced foetal growth, stunted development of children’s lungs, and cognitive impairment.

Dr Vardhan has claimed India needed its own research to determine whether dirty air is really harmful to otherwise healthy people — an argument the government also made in the Supreme Court.

Dr Kumar believes New Delhi’s unwillingness to acknowledge the severity of its pollution crisis stems from its reluctance to take strong measures tackle large polluters. Such a crackdown would inevitably upset powerful vested interests in the automotive sector, highly polluting small and medium-sized industries, power plants, construction companies and farmers. And it could hit economic growth ahead of elections next year.

“They are not unaware but, despite being aware, they deny,” says Dr Kumar, “The corrective measures that would be needed are unpleasant, and might make them lose votes rather than gain votes.”

But environmentalist Sunita Narain, director-general of New Delhi’s Centre for Science and Environment, says official attitudes have shifted since last winter’s catastrophic air emergency, when record pollution levels forced schools to close for several days.

“That was a turning point,” says Ms Narain, who has battled India’s air pollution for decades. “There is outrage now against pollution — it is also now much more of a middle-class issue and government is acting because it understands the public health emergency.”

Riaz Haq said...

#COVID19 #pandemic has created a 2nd crisis in #India — the rise of child trafficking. #Lockdown meant millions of children deprived of the midday meal they used to receive at school and many people lost their jobs. #Hunger #poverty #Modi #BJP #coronavirus https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/24/asia/india-covid-child-trafficking-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

One evening in August, a 14-year-old boy snuck out of his home and boarded a private bus to travel from his village in Bihar to Jaipur, a chaotic, crowded and historical city 800 miles away in India's Rajasthan state.

He and his friends had been given 500 rupees (about $7) by a man in their village to "go on vacation" in Jaipur, said the boy, who CNN is calling Mujeeb because Indian law forbids naming suspected victims of child trafficking.
As the bus entered Jaipur, it was intercepted by police.
The man was arrested and charged under India's child trafficking laws, along with two other suspects. Nineteen children, including Mujeeb, were rescued. Jaipur police said they were likely being taken to bangle factories to be sold as cheap labor.

In India, children are allowed to work from the age of 14, but only in family-related businesses and never in hazardous conditions. But the country's economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and many have lost their jobs, leading some families to allow their children to work to bring in anything they can.
Making colored lac bangles like those sold in Jaipur is hot and dangerous work, requiring the manipulation of lacquer melted over burning coal. Bangle manufacturing is on the list of industries that aren't allowed to employ children under 18.


"Children have never faced such crisis," said 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, whose organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) works to protect vulnerable children. "This is not simply the health crisis or economic crisis. This is the crisis of justice, of humanity, of childhood, of the future of an entire generation."
When India went into a strict lockdown in March, schools and workplaces closed. Millions of children were deprived of the midday meal they used to receive at school and many people lost their jobs.
Traffickers have exploited the situation by targeting desperate families, activists said.
Between April and September, 1,127 children suspected of being trafficked were rescued across India and 86 alleged traffickers were arrested, according to Bachpan Bachao Andolan.
Most of the children came from rural areas of poorer states, such as Jharkhand or Bihar. Pramila Kumari, the chairwoman of Bihar's Commission For Protection Of Child Rights, said the government commission had received more complaints of trafficking during the pandemic.
Child trafficking, when young people are tricked, forced or persuaded to leave their homes and then exploited, forced to work or sold, can occur in several ways. Experts say sometimes, children are lured with false promises without their parents ever knowing, like Mujeeb. Other times, desperate parents hand their children over to work so they can send money home.

Riaz Haq said...

#US green card: Over 8,00,000 #Indian nationals in green card backlog in #UnitedStates . With 8 decades wait, 200,000 will die before reaching the front of the line - The Economic Times

https://m.economictimes.com/nri/visa-and-immigration/over-800000-indian-nationals-in-green-card-backlog-in-us/articleshow/79352887.cms

-------------------------


About 68 percent of the employment-based backlog was from India in April 2020. This outcome is the result of country caps that limit nationals of any single birthplace to no more than 7 percent of the green cards in a year unless the green cards would otherwise go unused. Another 14 percent was from China, and 18 percent from the rest of the world. The Chinese backlog actually declined slightly during 2020 through April, but the backlogs for Indians and all other applicants grew significantly.

https://www.cato.org/blog/employment-based-green-card-backlog-hits-12-million-2020

Riaz Haq said...

Rebooting Economy 41: India's growing poverty and hunger nobody talks about

Latest estimate from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports - World Economic Outlook: A Long and Difficult Ascent, October 2020 and Fiscal Monitor: Policies for the Recovery, October 2020- shows that 90 million people globally would slip into "extreme poverty" (surviving on $1.9 a day) due to the pandemic. This is in line with the World Bank's June 2020 estimate ("Projected poverty impacts of COVID-19") which estimated 70-100 million to slip into extreme poverty.

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Earlier this month, the Global Hunger Index 2020 report ranked India at 94 (of 107 it mapped for the 2020 report), far below neighbouring Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This index is based on four component indicators: (i) undernourishment (insufficient caloric intake) (ii) child wasting (under 5 years) (iii) child stunting (under 5 years) and (iv) child mortality (under 5 years).

India's progress has been very tardy compared to its neighbours as the following graph shows. Its "child wasting" (low weight for age reflecting acute undernourishment) and "child stunting" (low weight for age reflecting chronic under-nutrition) is particularly poor. The hunger index scores are measured on a scale of 0-100, where '0' represents zero hunger.

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The inept and callous handling of the pandemic and the untimely and unplanned lockdown has jolted India like no other country. Its GDP growth for the April-June 2020 quarter tanked to minus 23.9% - the highest among major economies. The RBI estimates the GDP growth for the entire fiscal to be minus 9.5%, as against the IMF's estimate of minus 10.3%, while its global average is estimated to be minus 4%. (To know why read "Rebooting Economy 37: Do high-frequency data suggest V-shaped recovery? ")
Also Read: Rebooting Economy VIII: COVID-19 pandemic could push millions of Indians into poverty and hunger

India would account for 40 million of the 90 million the IMF says would turn extremely poor or 44.4% of all. The following graph from the IMF's Fiscal Monitor report shows that in India (extreme left), their number would rise from 80 million in 2018 to 120 million in 2020.


https://www.businesstoday.in/opinion/columns/indian-economy-coronavirus-impact-indias-growing-poverty-and-hunger-due-to-covid19-pandemic-effect/story/420575.html

https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2020/09/30/world-economic-outlook-october-2020

Riaz Haq said...

#Indians' national dream of emulating #China’s rapid growth is receding — by some #economic yardsticks, #India can’t even keep up with #Bangladesh. #Modi’s #COVID19 #lockdown in March left millions of scared migrant workers without jobs, shelter or food. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-opinion-india-and-modi-are-losing-china-battle/
By Andy Mukherjee

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The post-lockdown economy will simply not have enough demand to consume what can be produced. There’s some attempt to reform the supply side — labor and farm markets, in particular. But not much is being done to revive demand, either in the short or the long run. Some of us are wondering if this callousness will cause India’s demographic dividend — two out of three Indians are still in the magic age group of 15 to 64 years — to go unclaimed.

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China’s example beckoned. After the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Beijing wouldn’t brook political freedoms, but the economic reforms begun by Deng Xiaoping were deemed irreversible and foreign investors were mostly welcomed. The economy took off. China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and grew at 10%-plus rates for 20 years.

It was never going to be easy for India to emulate its neighbor, whose single-party state struck a bargain with foreign investors, while discriminating against its own business class. Such stratagems weren’t possible in India’s noisy, federal democracy. Politicians couldn’t ignore local businesses that gave them money to fight elections. So India cleaned up the stock market and opened it to overseas investors. This made sense. Unlike China, which was saving more than half of its national income before the 2008 global financial crisis, India lacked the capital to sustain a liberalizing economy through messy cycles of coalition politics, let alone to build the roads, power plants and other basics of missing infrastructure.

So we put our faith in institutions. Our heritage of English common law, independent courts and regulators held the promise of fairness and protection for all stakeholders, and we thought these would get stronger over time. The state, we hoped, would shrink as an economic player, and become a more robust referee. Governance would improve, endemic corruption would recede. The anonymity fostered by urbanization would smash the regressive caste system. We liked it when scholars such as Yasheng Huang, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, said that India could overtake China.

To me and many of my generation, Manmohan Singh was a savior, someone who carried the scars of partition and had known poverty as a child. He was one of us. Our disillusionment with him was 20 years in the future.

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Then, in November 2016, Modi performed a high-voltage stunt: He outlawed 86% of the country’s cash, presumably to unearth illicit wealth. People queued up for days to return their worthless notes. New currency was in short supply. Small businesses in my hometown — a shoe-making hub — couldn’t pay workers. Women-run micro enterprises on the outskirts of Mumbai later told me that their going rate for weaving golden threads into a sari crashed to 4,000 rupees ($54), from 7,000 rupees.

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The rest of the economy is still highly informal, and inefficient: 80% of the output of farms and by small businesses goes to pay for capital, which is scarce. Labor’s share is 20%. Workers are liberally rewarded only in a bloated public sector, much of which ought to have been privatized long ago. Because it wasn’t, taxpayers have to keep alive debt-addled firms such as Air India Ltd.

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The push toward higher wages should have come from higher farm productivity, which would have raised the price of migrant labor coming to cities. India missed this page of the East Asian playbook and failed to create a permanent urban working class.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hunger pangs in #Modi's #India have just gotten worse. The proportion of children under 5 who are underweight has risen, compared to the prior National Family Health Survey (NFHS) round in 2015-16. India ranks worse than #Pakistan, #Bangladesh and #Nepal. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/hunger-pangs-in-india-may-have-just-gotten-worse-11607962661718.html

One of the mysteries associated with India’s rapid economic expansion over the past three decades is the persistence of hunger and malnutrition, especially among children. A recent survey shows the country may be slipping further, instead of improving. Mint explains.
What do the NFHS findings indicate?

In a number of large states, the proportion of children under 5 who are underweight has risen, compared to the previous National Family Health Survey (NFHS) round in 2015-16. Even relatively advanced states like Gujarat and Maharashtra have recorded a slide in the nutritional well-being of their children since 2015. This is contradictory to what should ideally happen in a growing economy, since rising prosperity should improve access to food. The ground situation in 22 states and union territories was captured in phase-I of the survey—which was interrupted by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

Could this be a fallout of the pandemic?

The NFHS surveyors had started fanning out to households across the country since mid-2019. The exercise of reaching out to over 600,000 households was likely to last a year, but those plans were disrupted in March. Thus, the phase-I results have nothing to do with covid-19 and are an indication of India’s nutritional state before March. If anything, the prevalence of hunger is only expected to have shot up in subsequent months. The first official glimpse of covid’s economic impact may, thus, get captured in phase-II, which will cover key states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The results will be out by May 2021.

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India has been a poor performer in global hunger indices, often ranking behind even poorer Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. But it has at least managed to show improvements over its own past record. 2020 may be an outlier when even this kind of progress might not happen. A 2017-18 consumption survey by the National Statistical Office had shown a steep drop in monthly per capita consumption in rural India. NFHS-5 indicates economic woes were real in late-2019 and in early 2020 too, even before covid.