Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, November 01, 2010

jean dreze interview

in what is a telling assessment of india's current social imbalance, jean dreze rakes our conscience with this - "the middle-class has lost track of how poor our country is".
this is an interview to tehelka commenting on the Food Security Act.

he says:
I think that the middle class has completely lost track of how poor this country is. We live in a make-believe world that exists only on television and small islands of privilege. That was the message of late Arjun Sengupta’s striking figure, that 77 percent of Indians live on less than Rs. 20 a day. The figure was not exactly right, but even if it was, say, 5 percent off the mark, the basic message remains. Are we saying that anyone who has more than Rs. 20 a day should be excluded from the PDS?
The Planning Commission is proudly talking of “infrastructural investment” to the tune of $1 trillion in the 12th Plan, about half of that would be public money. $1 trillion! That’s astronomical: nearly 10 percent of GDP, year after year. But for food security, 1 percent of GDP is considered extravagant — that’s not “investment”.
jean dreze is a hero on Farm, Yeah.
some dreze interviews and profiles can be accessed here and here.


dv said...

well, well mr dreze bleeds more copiously here than he is wont to. what is sadder than the scene he paints is that he has the ears of the dowager empress of india who is loath to rein in her appointee in the pmo. once that's done it's a short hop to the planning commission and cutting the trillion dollar boys to size. do lavish your scholarship on discovering why that is not happening, jean.

if any articulate middle classer were to be interviewed he would bleed as eloquently as dreze.

unaffordable food prices would be a good thing. dreze and the rest will survive worse than the poor.

Nandakumar V said...

That's classy stuff from DV.

Anonymous said...

Food security through the govt storing and distributing foodgrains to "below poverty" people may work for a while, but is not a good long term solution. Decentralize, and not measure agricultural productivity through a narrow set of grains - wheat and rice, which end up in consumer's hands devoid of nutrients.
Even before we reduce hunger we have almost unmanageable increase in diabetes, cancer and other life style illnesses. Mr Dreze's effort surely must have helped lots of people who otherwise reached a dead end with no options, and some of those people will go on to do great things, but a vision that emphasizes independence and diversity, than government funded charity, is better for all of us. A little hardship is good.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link for a useful study about long-term impact of agriculture on land.

- Prathapan