Food Fight–Continued

Obviously, somebody is eating all that food. According to the latest UNCIEF Report,

With a rate of 46 per cent, the levels of children underweight in South Asia are staggering. Three countries – India, Bangladesh and Pakistan – account for half the world’s underweight children, despite having just 29 per cent of the developing world’s under-five population. Underweight prevalence in the region declined from 53 per cent in 1990 but the average annual rate of 1.7 per cent is insufficient to meet the MDG (UN Millennium Development Goals) target..

At 46 percent, South Asia has the world’s highest underweight average. Hmmmm….somebody is buying up all the food and eating them, but obviously not these children. Where in the world is the all the extra food going?


Food Fight–Part Deux–USA vs India

The food fight between President Bush and India is showing no signs of dampening. Pradeep Mehta, the Secretary General of CUTS (Center for International Trade, Economics and Environment), a private economic research organization called Americans to slim down and eat less so that the poorest of the poor can eat marginally better has further aggravated the war of words. Jairam Ramesh, with the Indian Commerce Ministry, told members of Indian Press that President Bush

has never been known for his knowledge of economics,” and the remarks proved again how “comprehensively wrong” he is.

Mr. Bush and U.S. Secretary of State, Condi Rice are being thoroughly lambasted in the Asian Press for their grossly misleading statements. The graphic from the New York Times that roundly discredits Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice. Here compare for yourself, the average American Citizen chowed down 93 pounds of beef and 99 pounds of chicken in 2006, whereas in India the average consumption was 3 and 4 pounds respectively. Wow, no wonder the price of food is going up because…you know what it is obvious to me that Indians are eating more…hmmm….hmmmmm! Can’t the people in State Department learn to read statistics before they make uninformed statements.

“Pax Iranica” or Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran or Start a New Cold War

Having vanquished Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, and China, the United States foreign policy establishment is looking for the next threat to keep it occupied for the next eight years. Viola, here it is—it is Iran (it is not I-ran, it is pronounced Eerraan). New York Times Columnist, Mr. Tom Friedman, adds fuel to the fire that Iran is the next big threat and that the next Cold War or rather the new Cold War will be should be with Iran. Mr. Friedman writes,

The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war. Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president — but this cold war is with Iran.

For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided. Any other questions?

Mr. Friedman goes on to quote Aaron David Miller, a noted Middle East Expert, about America’s chances under the next president with Iran,

“We stumbled for eight years under Bill Clinton over how to make peace in the Middle East, and then we stumbled for eight years under George Bush over how to make war there,” said Mr. Miller, and the result is “an America that is trapped in a region which it cannot fix and it cannot abandon.”

Now, I am not in disagreement with Mr. Friedman at all, Iran is indeed an important player in the Middle East politics. Besides, Iran is sitting on vast oil reserves along with the Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which obviously makes Iran a serious contender in Middle East Politics. However, unfortunately, our presidential candidates have not displayed any nuance, sensitivity, diplomacy, or statecraft in addressing the question “how you plan to deal with Iran.” Here watch for yourself the highly, thoughtful, imaginative, and carefully thought out responses made by two of our presidential candidates.

Perils of Commuting

I have always complained about the perils of commuting in the Northeast sector of the United States–the buses, trains, roads–yes, the roads in particular are terribly congested and polluted with aggressive drivers. However, a recent visit to India completely changed my attitude towards commuting totally (much about that in another post). Traffic and public transportation in major Indian cities is packed to the hilt during rush hour and it is chaotic and unorganized. I received a link on commuting by train in Japan. These set of videos give a new meaning to phrases such as, “packed like Sardines,” “Human Trafficking,” and “Tight Squeeze,” “Human Wave”…watch and enjoy.

Vacuity of the American Media

The last five days I have been watching network coverage of the Democratic Primaries. What really stuns me is the completely vacuity, self-congratulatory tone, non-stop coverage of the horse-race between Clinton and Obama. Now, strangely I find this very comforting, I can watch it for hours and not learn a thing. The tipping point is that nearly 50,000, by some accounts and 100,000 (BBC News) might have perished in the cyclone that hit Burma last week. None of the 24-hour networks have said word about it. If you live in the US, it is very easy to forget that other countries exist and things happen there that might be worth knowing and caring about. Did you know that yesterday India test-fired a nuclear capable missile? Did you know that today Vladimir Putin became the Prime Minister of Russia? Oh, he used to be the President of Russia until day before. Did you know that civil war is raging in Lebanon and that people are dying in Iraq? The war on terror is not going well in Afghanistan. Well, you didn’t know that did you? Yes, that is because to our ratings driven corporate media things such as Reverend Wright and the Right-Wing Pastor that McCain is associated with is worth covering ad nauseam.

Making the Cut–Top 100 Public Intellectuals from South Asia

Foreign Policy Magazine is conducting a survey of top 100 public intellectuals. This list consists of 10 South Asians and 5 Indians from various walks of life, including two Nobel Laureates —Amartya Sen and Muhammad Yunus. Undoubtedly, South Asia, particularly India has come punching out or say breaking the glass-ceiling of the world of high-powered intellectual community.

This list speaks to my overall point that India is no longer a mere outsourcing and off-shoring outpost, merely servicing the needs of its colonial masters. It can and it has significantly contributed the outgrowth of ideas. India has genuine home-grown high-quality intellectual pioneers, these individuals are seriously altering the structure of the intellectual make-up of the global policy making.

South Asians in the Foreign Policy Top100 List

• Ashis Nandy, India, Political Psychologist
• Amartya Sen, India, Economist (Nobel Prize in Economics)
• Sunita Narain, India, Environmentalist
• V.S. Ramachandran, India, Neuroscientist
• Ramachandra Guha, India, Historian
• Salman Rusdhie, India via Britain, Novelist (Knighted in Britain)
• Fareed Zakaria, India via United States
• Mahmood Mamdani, India via Uganda
• Aitzaz Ahsan, Pakistan, Lawyer, Politician
• Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh, Microfinance, Activist (Nobel Peace Prize)

Here are some Indians, who are not included in the list:

• Jagdish Bhagwati, India via United States, International Trade Economist
• C.K. Prahalad, India, Business Strategist
• Vandana Shiva, India, Environmental Activist
• Sashi Tharoor, India, International Diplomat, Novelist
• Partha Chatterjee, India, Historian
• Jumpa Lahri, Novelist,
• Mira Nair, Film-maker, Essayist

EU Blames India and China for Rise in Global Food Prices

Following the footsteps of President Bush, now the EU blames India and China for the increase in global food prices. According to the EU Commissioner for agriculture and rural development Mariann Fischer Boel, “the first elephant is the huge increase in demand from emerging countries like China and India. These countries are eating more meat. It takes about 4 kg of cereals to produce one kg of pork, and about two kg of cereals to make one kg of poultry meat. So a dietary shift towards meat in countries with populations of over 1 billion people each has an enormous impact on commodity markets.” However, this article does not quote any data to point to this growing trend of meat consumption in India and China. The article also quotes leading economist Jeff Sachs as saying that more than “third of the US maize crop in 2008 would be used to fill petrol tanks.” By the way, oil futures hit 123 dollars a barrel today. So, what is really driving global food prices, must be that the poor Indians and Chinese who live on less than a dollar a day are eating more. Hmm….we can’t have that happen. Can we?