Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Among the world's Hungriest and Poorest - Incredible India

Dear All,
With respect to "crude statistics", I do tend to take alarmist global indices published by global think tanks on a whole range and variety of global issues, with a "pinch of salt".
The question still remains :
1. How do we respond to such "crude statistics"
2. What do we actually manage to do about these issues with the resources at our disposal.

There is no doubt that a country with 1.2 billion people has its politicial leaders pining and whining for the embrace and pats on the back, of the outgoing White House resident, backed by well funded Washington based policy think tanks, rather than evolving long term food security policies and development paradigms.
In the backdrop of the US Farm Bill 2007, continued and insistent EU and US farm subsidies, the arm twisting of developing economies by the diplomats and negotiators of the same countries and economic blocs, in global trade forums, so called respected think tanks which routinely spew out alarmist statistics have a habit of hijacking agendas for reasons best known to them.
In this, they do seek the support and mental attention of diaspora communities as well as of the Oxbridge / IMF / World Bank / Brussels trained economists who keep kicking the stirrups of Indian economy.
This routinely brings to my mind the statement of Leo Tolstoy - " I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back. "
At the same time, serious and more appropriate analysts like Devinder Sharma and P Sainath are continually sidelined and merely tolerated, in the cacaphony raised by these strategic policy think tanks with vested agendas.
Warm Regards,


The Indian elite keep ranting about the economy's growth rate while the corporate papers (Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express etc) get all excited about the bullish stock market that has crossed the 19,000-point mark.
But what about half the population grinding under poverty and malnutrition?

The Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute released its report "The World's Most Deprived: Characteristics and Causes of Extreme Poverty and Hunger" on 6th Nov 07. The Institute devised the global hunger index (GHI) as a measure of poverty & hunger in a country.
This report is the first of its kind to use household survey data to look at those living below the one-dollar-a- day line. The index is designed to capture three dimensions of hunger: lack of economic access to food, shortfalls in the nutritional status of children, and child mortality, which is largely attributable to malnutrition.

1) India ranks way down at 96 among 119 developing countries included in the report. Even Nepal is four notches higher at 92, Pakistan 88, Myanmar 68, Sri Lanka 69, China 47.
In contrast, Mauritius is among the top 20 of least hungry countries.

The report commented "The lack of improvement in India's GHI score between 1997 and 2003 despite continued growth is a cause for concern, since India's GHI still indicates alarming levels of hunger".

Across all developing regions of the world, the poorest households are most often located in remote rural areas with limited access to education, roads, and health services and members of these households often face exclusion due to their ethnicity, gender or disability.
Nagarjuna has interest in Food Policy issues and may like to comment further.

2) While child malnutrition has reduced, a separate study (see www.Indiatogether. org) finds that 1 in 2 Indian rural children under 3 is hungry.
3) And nearly 150,000 Indian farmers committed suicide in the period 1997- 2005, official data show. While farm suicides have occurred in many States, nearly two thirds of these deaths are concentrated in five States where just a third of the country's population lives. (See P Sainath, ZNet, 12 Nov 07).

Two more recent statistics:
4) INDIA also leads the world in the number of women dying in childbirth - 117,000 in 2005.
This means a maternal mortality ratio of 450 deaths per 100,000 live births. The Pakistan figure is 320, Sri Lanka 58 and China 45 (one tenth of India's) [R Hensman, 19 Nov 07 www.countercurrents .org

5) Times of India, 20 Nov 07 reported that India has the largest number of illiterates in the world.
It ranks 126th out of 177 countries in the Human Development Index (UNDP 2006)


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