Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category

The Commodity Price Dilemma

April 1, 2008

Low commodity prices leave little money for the farmers, whereas high commodity prices leave no food on the table for a lot more families. Central and Western Africa, Indian subcontinent and Bolivia face acute wheat/rice shortages. Sharply rising prices have triggered food riots in recent weeks in Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Mauritania and Yemen. The president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has signed deals with Vietnam for rice supplies. Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has reduced the restrictions on rice import (high prices might hurt them in the next elections). The Indian government has banned the export of non-basmati rice. The high prices have been attributed to famines, high oil prices, high meat consumption (causing a surge in consumption of cereals) and biofuels. A recent article in Economist argues that even though the food stockpiles are running at lowest levels in 25 years, there is still plenty of food for everyone. The article argues for changes in food-aid programs.

Economist Article – Food for Thought

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The darkest spot in shining India – poverty

March 7, 2008

Around 800 million people in India live on less than Rs. 20 per day. Around 250 million live on less than Rs 12 a day. The hopelessness of the situation can be gauged by the fact fact that people are eating rats or selling their children for buying a day’s meal.

BBC’s photo feature on poverty-stricken villages in N. India.

The cover story of this week’s economist mentions poverty as one of the two main barriers holding back the Indian economy.
Economist Article – India’s economy – What’s holding India back?

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, which promises wage employment to every rural household and assures at least 100 days’ employment, has not been really successful, thanks to corrupt officials. But more than this scheme, the government needs to think about rigid labor laws. A more flexible system could be a step towards generating more employment. A bigger percentage of the public finances needs to be spent on providing access to basic facilities such as water, electricity and education.

On a side note, I wonder what India’s extreme religious right would say if the people mentioned in the BBC feature converted to Christianity and were given one meal a day and their kids a decent education. Money cannot buy happiness, but it gives you an option to choose your miseries. On the other hand, you could use your money to buy someone else’s miseries. In case, you decide to do that, take a look at:
www.giveindia.org