Food crisis on the horizon?
The Red Corridor of India now an explosive front!
That is where the tribal belt lies and where much chronic food crisis and malnutrition and development deficit looms large!
The Right to Food Security is now on the election manifesto, right?
So, there is every hope that food distribution and food security would get top priority in the government’s agenda.
In agriculture, what is important, economics or politics? It looks less attention is getting noticed in the public mind over what the government does or it promises to do. The budget for 2010-11, by all accounts, has left out any thought on the agri sector; it has concentrated on balancing the budget. This budget is a deficit management budget! Nothing wrong in its own way.
But then, when it comes to the uncertainties on the agriculture front, agri front is always uncertain, with monsoon prediction always a hazard and the drought and floods, besides the very many natural calamities and last but not the least is the political mismanagement.
So, agriculture and the food front will be the top priority in the national agenda.
So, development means basically, as far as we are concerned, it is all about how we do on the food front.
This year, the UN Secretary General, the low-key Ban-ki-moon has sounded a loud warning as to the global food front.
Last November,2009,the the World Food Summit was a great disappointment with many nations failing to turn up(unlike the currently held Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit saw some 40 odd nations, most of them heads of state tuning up in a row!
So, there is some lack of awareness, says the UN chief and the world around there is a very serious food crisis engulfing us, he further warns.
The FAO’ report indicates that 1.02 billion people in the world are hungry, that means almost like 90 per cent of the Indian population remaining hungry, not enough food to eat!
So, we see, though not reported widely in the Indian media, unlike in the foreign media, there is a long line of stories, food riots around the world.
Even moderate hunger caused riots in countries ranging from Egypt, Malaysia and Tunis while other countries that saw agitations and less violent protests over food supplies are Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Burkin Faso, Guinea, Haiti and Pakistan!
The protests sometimes were non-violent, as happened in Bolivia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Also in Ethiopia and Niger!
So, what do we see on the food front in India?
Even within India, we see widespread hunger and deprivation in several states, Jharkand, Madya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and UP and Orissa ranking very low in the hunger-affected extreme poverty and malnutrition.
On malnourished children’s plight, the less said the better, so serious and the pictures some newsmagazines have carried are too unberable and unacceptable .Then considers the stories about the latest farmers’ suicides!
You have the full picture; no government agency is willing to accept responsibility.
And to cap up the cup of miseries, we have a government where the top leaders don’t speak out. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Congress President nor the other high Constitutional functionaries deem fit to dwelve on the theme of extreme hunger nor the farmers suicides nor about the malnourished children!
Is the agriculture sector a national priority? A national pride, India being the great traditional agricultural country?
We are not sure.
Yes, even today the large majority of the poor, the rural people are dependent upon agriculture as their occupation. In the tribal belt of India, which has now emerged as the Red Corridor, the situation is really explosive!
The front page news or the Prime Time television might be obsessed with the IPL match fixing or the Jessica murder judgement, what the urban India sees as its priority interest might not be at the bottom of the real India.
It is the food security, rather than the nuclear or other strategic issues are the real news.
This, somehow, the present government, hasn’t realised as the most serious issue.
Sonia Gandhi might utter the inanities, aam aadmi but already such utterances sound out of place in the comical/tragical New Delhi power corridors.
The PM might go abroad for an 8-day tour. He might be ceremonially correct but not genuinely.
The real problems are elsewhere.
It is the emotional integration of the people, the rural, tribal and the urban.
There are disconcerting divides. There is no over-arching vision that binds the minds of the people, the rich and the poor, the illiterates and the elites.
There must be a shared vision, a shared ideological under-pinnings.
What do we have?
Do we believe in India as a great idea?
As a coherent whole, as a nation? Does the patriotic instincts of the people kindled by the leadership?
We are not sure. The government must reach out to the last man.
Agriculture, the rural India and the last man is real India.
Agriculture was farmed, as the London- Financial Times wrote recently some 5,00o years ago in Uruk, Mesopotamia. Farming was the occupation of 80 per cent of the people. Now, in the USA farming is done by one per cent of the people.
But in other countries like Rwanda the same 80 per cent of people are engaged in farming. Some 2,500 years ago hybrid maize was invented. Now almost the whole food seems to be able to come from biotechnology. The green revolution started and we are all moving towards all hybrid varieties of grain. All rice from China from “new” varieties!
So, what India should do?
This question, Indians have to ask for themselves. We can’t ask others. The Indo-US collaboration in agriculture, valuable as it might be, is still no solution.
Americans look upon Indians as an outsourcing destination for cheap labour only!
So, India has to learn to become self-sufficient in food, food security is as important as any other security.
Let us look at our agriculture as a confident priority in any scheme of national priorities.
So, we look at the developments in India and abroad from various angles. Goodbye!
Image Source : cleanenergy-project.com