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?

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Staggering Inequality

According to a new report released by Arjun Sengupta, Chairman of the Center for Development and Human Rights based in New Delhi, 836 million people in India live on a daily wage of Rupees 20, which is equal to 48 cents (US-India) current exchange rate.  That is, 15 dollars a month or 180 dollars a year.  The same report points out that the size of Indian middle class has increased from 162 to 253 million.  Nevertheless, more than two-thirds or about 85% of the Indian population functions with less than 20% of the average Indian per capita income, which is about 900 dollars.  Forget the methodology behind the calculation of these figures.  Simply imagine the day-to-day socioeconomic impact of such existence.  What can you buy with 50 cents these days-maybe, one first-class mail stamp or half-hour parking in a big city in the Northern Hemisphere.  You can’t even get a can of soda for 50 cents.  Despite, all the hype surrounding high-rise buildings, late-night call centers, software development, medical outsourcing, construction of new malls, discos, and multiplex movie halls, more than two-thirds earn less than 50 cents a day.  This staggering inequality is hard to fathom.