People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 18

May 11, 2008


                                                                                        The King Is Never Wrong

G Mamatha

WANT to know the latest fad now? Our ‘greatest friend’ had stated, “we (Indians) are demanding better nutrition and food” and thus have caused the “prices to go up” and also did the same to the prices of oil. “There is nothing wrong with the statement”, reacted a former top-bureaucrat involved in the n-deal talks with our ‘friend’. Being the world’s most powerful man, our ‘friend’ can never be wrong. Let us not beat around the Bush. By George we all know him and he is, to use his own words, not to be ‘misunderestimated’ (No printers devil but one more example of the famous ‘Bushisms’).

Remember the King is never wrong. Bane to those who accuse him! Immediately his courtiers jumped in defence of his ‘pearls of wisdom.’ His Highness’ royal representative in our country, His Excellency Mulford had subtly hinted “hostile political commentary is not productive” when “this is a time for increased cooperation”. Taking cue our prime minister had immediately replied “I don't want to get into arguments with foreign dignitaries” and refused to react, preferring silence, lest his stance be known to one and all. And our more loyal than the king former bureaucrat has said, “It is the global recognition of India's prosperity and economic development…” The mainstream media whose interests are to serve the ‘people’ (highly subjective term these days for them) too did not lag far behind and came out with a strong advice “The hysterical response from our politicians and sections of the media to Bush is simply out of place. It reveals a sense of immaturity that is unbecoming of an aspiring global power.” They have asked us to develop “sophistication in our understanding of the rest of the world”.

Come on, let us not be hysterical! With a set of remotes in our hand to switch on our AC, TV-watching the IPL with Red Skin American Cheerleaders, munching the Big Mc and sipping the coke on this ‘gajab ka shaam, let us ‘jashan manale’. ‘We the people…’ do not and of course as the ‘Times’ and other ‘Indians expressly’ tell us, should not ask other poor two-legged creatures (humans) moving around our cities-scantily dressed (is it haute couture) and extremely thin (are they under diet control)-hungry hai kya? Sensitive among us might just tell these ‘people’ (my goodness they too are people) ‘Come on folks, don’t be anorexic, eat’. Let us not forget to at least munch our chips while we advise them. An after thought, let us not ask them to indulge in eating, lest the prices of our eatables go up!

As informed citizens, let us discuss some statistics over a cup of coffee.

Let us remember that all these statistics include the entire population of the country irrespective of their class of origin.

Let us rejoice at this ‘global recognition of our prosperity’, by eating into few more statistics. Not only are we eating less but majority of our people are starving. In 1991, the food grain available per Indian was 531 grams per day. In 2005, it had fallen to 437 grams i.e., the average Indian is consuming 100 grams less per day than he did 10 years ago. India has 57 million under nourished children-over a third of the world total. Every second child in the country in undernourished. Around 56 percent of the women and 79 percent of the children under three are anemic. According to the State of Food Insecurity Report, between 1995-97 and 2000-02, hunger grew in India and had added more people to the “newly hungry” in the planet than the rest of the world together. According to the Global Hunger Index, India stands at number 94 of the 118 countries computed. Ethiopia ranks a notch above us at 93. Pakistan ranks ahead of us, too, at 88. China logs in at 47. All our South Asian neighbours do better than us on this index, except Bangladesh.

This is not because we produce less. India has arable land of 184 million hectares and produces annually 90 million tonnes of milk (highest in the world), 150 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables (second largest), 485 million livestock (largest), 204 million tonnes food grain (third largest), 6.3 million tonnes fish (third largest), 489 million poultry and 45,200 million eggs. We have declared that we have achieved self-sufficiency in food grain production, meaning that we have enough to feed all our people (that we don’t is another matter). In spite of all this we are accused of being responsible for the increase in the food prices. Why?

The US and its cohorts want to absolve themselves of the responsibility and shift the blame on the developing countries. International prices of major food grains are going up steeply owing to the use of grain for ethanol production. Rich countries have planned to use corn, wheat, sunflower seeds, rapeseed and other foodstuffs to produce fuel. The sinister idea of turning foodstuffs into fuel was definitely established as the economic strategy of the US foreign policy. The rise of bio-fuels presents a serious issue since it takes over arable land and diverts resources from food production. It is estimated that by 2020 we will be burning 400 million tonnes of grain a year — equivalent to the entire world rice crop — just to keep our cars on the road!

Our cars! Already our country is blamed for the rising oil prices too. Let us see some more statistics. The total number of cars in India roughly equals to those sold by General Motors – USA alone and to be clearer there are seven cars per thousand people in India, whereas there are 514 in Europe and 940 in the US. The per capita consumption of energy in the United States is 13,000 kilowatts, while the world average is 2,429 kilowatts. Today, developed countries are pushing to have fossil fuels mixed with biofuels at around five percent and this is already affecting agricultural prices. Imagine what would be the situation if their double-digit targets were to be met?

Doesn’t that ring something to you from our history? The British had forced our peasants to shift from agricultural crops to indigo cultivation for dyeing their manufactured cloth. Result…destruction of agriculture, severe famines and deaths to hundreds of thousands. In this new phase of imperialism again the role of the peripheral nations is to produce energy for the central wealthy nations.

Is the truth bitter than the coffee? If you are unable to even face the truth, think about the people living those lives!

But the King can never be wrong! His cat is India and he is right about Afghanistan, WMDs in Iraq, Iran, terrorist Cuba and now on the rising agricultural prices. Hail the Fuhrer…sorry, the King!