Saturday, April 26, 2008

Food Crisis. Surprised? No.

Vir Sanghvi is a jury member that selects contestants who appear on the new Shahrukh Khan quiz show 'Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain?' which is Indian version of globally hit show 'Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?'. (Counterpoint, Hindustan Times,27th April)

He has seen the tapes of peoples' auditions for the show and read their forms and on the basis of this he gives his version of 'Mood of the Nation Poll' albeit softened to be called 'Mood of the Middle India'. The middle class is cheerful, doesn't complain about anything and is hopeful about the future. TV and Mobile are integral parts of life and everyone wears good clothes and looks prosperous. But what about food?

You may laugh at this question. What about food, we have more pressing issues to think about than worry about something as lowly as food. You have money and you can buy food. But in this country where agriculture minister is more interested in running the richest sports body in the country (BCCI) and finance minister is bothered about rise and fall of sensex more than rise of fiscal deficit, food is still one of the biggest expenses for many Indians who don't own TV and mobile.

For many years now, agriculture growth has languished at less than 2% but continuous double digit growth figures in other sectors of economy have ensured that we shine as 'one of the fastest growing economies'. Not that this fact was not known, but for Indian media the agriculture crisis meant farmer suicides in Vidarbha only. No body talked about reducing productivity of Indian fields, more farmers moving to growing cash crops (sugar, cotton, jute etc.) rather than food grains and incoherent Government policies which would motivate farmers to sell to open market rather than Government and hence cause a supply demand imbalance.

And the usual cockiness that comes with money! We can afford to go to costliest hotels and restaurants and food was something we took for granted. We thought that we have reached stage where food security was something as natural as ... well food itself!

Western countries had their special contribution in aggravating problem. Surge in use of BioFuel ensured more cultivation and use of sugar crops like sugarcane and beet and maize and corn for producing fuel, lead to shortage of these for human consumption!

The need of the hour is to estimate our needs and necessities honestly and realistically. Think of whole country and just not focus on 'resurgent' middle class. Remember what happened to 'India Shining' campaign?


Vaibhav said...

Nice Blog !

Yes, I guess the flow is money is not going in the right direction.

Manu said...

Abhishek, the entire world is facing a food crisis, so India cannot be too far behind. But yes, pur govt could have done a lot more to help mini9mize the impact of this food crunch. Another thing the gov can do is to enforce fam,ily planning. Otherwise for a country like ours that adds another Germany to its population each year, food is never going to be enough.

Abhishek said...

Yes manu, you are right. Population growth is causing a resource crunch in every domain.
And you know what, whenever India imports wheat the prices go up globally!