Our blogsite pays homage to Amartya Sen and his concept of the Argumentative Indian. Dr. Sen himself has now stirred up a veritable storm of argument with an article in the New York Times on the looming food crisis. Within 24 hours the article generated so many responses that the New York Times had to declare that it could no longer entertain any more comments on the subject ! to more reasoned analyses and differences of opinion.
In the article, entitled The Rich Get Hungrier, Dr. Sen has chosen to place blame on misdirected Government policies such as alternative land use, growing purchasing power generating more demand than hitherto and imbalance in wealth distribution.
The comments from readers range from the downright dismissive, such as
“There is nothing new which Prof. Sen has brought out. The better thing would have been if Prof. Sen had come up with the solutions of the problem”
The fact that a voice as eminent as Dr. Sen's has now been added to the whole discussion of food will have the welcome result of focusing private and public attention more intently on the whole subject.
And not too soon either, considering that (according to a summary of studies conducted in the U.K.)
-Some 2 to 3.5 billion people have micronutrient deficiency (deficiency of vitamins and minerals);
In the United Kingdom, “a shocking 30-40% of all food is never eaten;”
In the last decade the amount of food British people threw into the bin went up by 15%;
Overall, £20 billion (approximately $38 billion US dollars) worth of food is thrown away, every year.
In the US 40-50% of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten;
Wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides;
More fuel used for transportation;
More rotting food, creating more methane — one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change.
In India, with its stark contrasts between lavish feasts and widespread starvation, the situation is made even more poignant by the fact that according to Government sources from the Ministry of Food Processing, the annual food wastage in the country due to inadequate storage and transport infrastructure is Rs. 58,000 crores annually (close to US$15 billion)
In order to forestall a shortage, the Government of India has now placed restrictions on the exports of rice from the country, provoking an outcry from traders bemoaning the loss of foreign exchange earnings in a rising market. It is worth remembering what Mahatma Gandhi said “There is enough in this world for man's need but not for man's greed” .
to more reasoned analyses and differences of opinion.