L E T T E R S    T O    T H E    E D I T O R

True picture of food, oil crises

In his article, The daily bread: Failure to tackle food crisis can be unsettling (June 18), H.K. Dua has painted a true scenario of the global oil and food crisis. Indeed, the present gloom in the world has arisen out of the twin crisis of oil and food. Globally, oil production is controlled by cartels of oil producing countries. They lower their oil production and create a climate of shortage of supplies while the domestic demand continues to rise. Agriculture is being ignored for higher industrial growth and there is underinvestment in this critical sector. Moreover, the youth are enamoured by urban glitz and desire to live in cities with skyscrapers and malls.

The world is not producing enough food for everyone on this planet. The US, while holding India responsible for food crisis, is indulging in a blame game. The percentage of obese persons is much higher in the West than in the poor developing countries.

Mr Dua has rightly pointed out that there is great imbalance in the world food consumption. While the rich can afford to eat what they want and when they want, the poor have to subsist on what they can get and when they get. Perhaps Adam Smith may prove to be correct in the 21st century. The world’s population may outstrip the food production leading to riots, famines, starvation and panic in deficit countries.

Dr L. K. MANUJA, Nahan (HP)



The article makes serious reading. If we think about food crisis, the first that comes to one’s mind is population explosion. In India, the density of population is 324 per mile as against 129 in China.

According to Thomas Robert Malthus, population increases at the rate of geometrical progression, i.e. 1-2-4-8-16 while food items increase at the rate of arithmetical progression, i.e. 1-2-3-4-5. So people outnumber foodstuffs in a short span of time. If humans won’t apply checks, nature will do that through natural calamities like famine, floods, wars etc.

Consequently, it is in the interest of humankind to check population explosion. Malthus has propounded a very simple theory. If we don’t plan our family, we will have to suffer. It is a sorry state of affairs that our government does not make a law to this effect for fear of its vote bank.



As highlighted by the writer, food scarcity is a major concern in an era of climate change and millions of people living below the poverty line across the world, particularly in India, are unable to afford two square meals a day.

I agree that with rapid industrialisation, SEZs, urbanisation, agricultural growth is not keeping pace with population growth. Population, particularly in India, is growing at a fast rate and the per capita land and water resources are shrinking. Disasters are taking place and the world is unable to have enough food on the planet with the shrinking of the agricultural land.

Our policy makers should explore ways to increase agricultural production in uncertain weather conditions; the goal should be to increase the average production of selected crops in rain-fed areas as 60 per cent of our cultivated area is still rain-fed.

As food is the first need of every living being, including creatures, animals, cattle and birds, there is need to bridge the available yield gap by using advanced technologies. All nations must join hands to evolve a common strategy to deal with the food crisis.



It was surprising to hear from President Bush that Indians were now eating more and had become relatively prosperous. But what are the facts? An average American eats five times more than an Indian in a year. An Indian consumes only 178 kg of grain, whereas an American gets 1046 kg to eat. The US Department of Agriculture cannot refute this argument as it has itself released this data.

I share Mr Dua’s view that the cartels are quite active in the international market and they are influencing the prices of oil as well as food grains in a big way. While the farming community is in debt and distress everywhere throughout the world, the MNCs are earning huge profits. The Americans use foodstuffs such as maize, soyabeans and sugarcane and plants like switch grass and their cellulosic waste for producing bio-fuels. They burn food grains to run their cars and lay the blame at the doors of India and China for increasing prices of the same.

If we intend to fill an average tank with bio-fuel, the required quantity of maize would be equal to the annual consumption by an individual. So, it is explicit who is consuming more and why. The predictions of Adam Smith and Thomas Robert Malthus may never come true. Yet, we must draw proper lessons from previous failures to control population and raise the productivity per hectare in Africa and South East Asia.



Mr Dua rightly says that the present global food crisis is due to the US’ excessive use of bio-fuels for producing energy. President Bush’s lie of blaming India’s middle class for overeating is uncalled for. It is like Sir Winston Churchill’s notorious claim in the House of Commons that “Quit India’s prisoners are gaining weight in the jails”.

The US’ sovereign right to burn food for producing fuel is unethical, besides being an encroachment on man’s fundamental right to food.


Pitfalls of RTI

The Right to Information Act has provided an easy handle to offices and departments to put off information seekers by directing them to contact the information officers even when the piece of information sought is simple and implying no trouble to anyone.

It should not be a burden for the authorities to provide prompt information on queries like, for instance, will a particular examination commence in February 2009 as usual or whether there is any change in its schedule and when are matriculation results likely to be declared this time.

Before the RTI was enacted, such information was easily obtained but now the process has become cumbersome, time-consuming and costlier. The government will have to do something in this direction to help the poor information seekers.

Dr T. R. SHARMA, Patiala



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |