Or even shorter: India spends billions of dollars on a policy that does nothing except ensure they have a rate of child malnutrition almost twice that of sub-saharan Africa.
tl;dr: Socialism, lol.
(Oh, and as Spodek pointed out, famines are caused by a lack of money, not food. It's been known for DECADES that if you want to stop people starving, you need to give them cash, and cut barriers to trade.)
Researches study, but the figures they come up are far far away from reality. That is because everything exists on paper just not practically.
Can you possibly imagine surviving in that kind of jungle without being self-centered?
i dont' think 'self-centered' is meant as a derogatery term for the indians. Its just an observation, and the cause is poverty. I don't see a solution to this problem, because any solution that is viable, and realistically implementable, will have to be inefficient (due to corruption, and people with power taking advantage of the situation to the dismay of the poorer/powerless ones).
Please be specific about the mechanics.
I agree with the OP in the sense that the biggest problem in India is that if you are rich, you don't have to worry about the law. Let me give you couple of examples:
1. The murder of Jessica Lal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Jessica_Lal Even though the accused is in jail right now, it was not because law enforcement worked. It was because of Indian Media. Read the Wikipedia page to get more details.
2. Almost all Indian politicians are corrupt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_politicians_in_India_ch... Now, it's one thing to get away with a crime but it's a whole another thing to still be active in politics after your crimes are exposed. E.g. Lalu Yadav was involved in a scam costing government ~190MM. He later became Railway Minister and he is still active. Compare this to US. Eliot Spitzer, a generally honest man, had to quit politics after his sex scandal came out.
3. Salman Khan, a famous Indian actor, was drunk driving and killed a person. He didn't do any jail time. [ http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/sep/28khan.htm ]
I grew up in India and I have personally seen how the rich people have used money to circumvent the law.
This lack of enforcement against rich people leads to a situation where common people have no respect for the law. And that is why corruption is so rampant in India.
IMHO, A law enforcement similar to how it's in USA, will do wonders to India and it's economy. Though I should add that before we adapt strict law enforcement, we have to revamp our ridiculously outdated laws [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Penal_Code]. E.g. It was only in 2009 when the law banning gay people was scrapped down.
However, this ignores the question: how would enforcing laws against the wealthy and privileged affect the particular problem we are discussing in this article (wheat rotting while children starve)?
It's very possible that the local jute industry was given protection by the government because they bribed the appropriate civil servants/elected officials. Neither the bribers or the bribees will ever face any sort of prosecution for their actions, despite the fact that giving or taking bribes is clearly illegal.
Vigilant enforcement of bad laws is not a good thing.
This is contributing to the problem:
It seems crazy that people wouldn't just use plastic bags in open defiance during a serious shortage.
More generally I would say it was interventionist, but very poorly handled. The issue is because they don't know what they're doing, rather than that they are subscribed to a certain style of government.
That said, I wonder: Are farm subsidies in India that much different than farm subsidies in the US?
US farm subsidies seem to be, pardon the expression, sacred cows, supported (or at least not challenged) by both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.
Even though they result in lakes of high-fructose corn syrup, youth obesity (especially among lower-income groups), and high health-related costs to society (especially the uninsured).
The Indian government is known to have very serious problems with mismanagement and corruption (worse than many other Asian countries). Witness what was practically the giving away of the communications spectrum to private companies a few years ago, due to sheer ignorance on the part of the minister responsible. India's government needs to be reformed quite fundamentally.
Nonetheless, the enduring problems of corruption and mismanagement in its administration remain. Those can't be attributed to the old socialism or current capitalism alone, considering that India is going through a rapid economic rise out of relative poverty. Bad governance is bad governance, whatever the system, and it's aggravated when countries are poor, have a weak rule of law, and are just starting the climb up the ladder of development.
India has a few sectors, like IT, that are fairly unregulated and which are growing very quickly but the vast bulk of the economy isn't like that.
I certainly agree that good government is very important, though. The better the government the less government intervention in the economy hurts growth, and the more it tends to actually help disadvantaged people.
Except throughout the Cold War, the socialist states looked more like other socialist states (to wit: The USSR, the PRC, clients thereof, and non-aligned socialist states like Albania) than like non-socialist states around them. These states often called themselves "People's Republics".
Of course, if you take that definition of 'socialist', then India most certainly isn't socialist.
My point: Language isn't simple. Politics isn't simple. Mixing the two simplifies neither.
Decide? No. Correlate strongly with? Yes.
Corruption and incompetence span all political and economic systems.
If you really wanted to split hairs, you could say this is an example for those people who think that a government can engineer a better outcome for people than the people just left to their own devices.
Oh, but we don't need an example of that -- we can just compare, say, European nationalised healthcare with the US approach, and see better outcomes for lower cost in the European model.
No-one's ever said government always engineers better outcomes. A few examples only serve to knock down a straw-man.
"""has been known for decates"""
Thst is actually only partially true, as has been proven in a number of experiments and shown in the book "Poor Economy".
Poor people that reach a higher level of income will generally not buy /more/ food to satisfy their actual needs, but will switch to buy /more expensive/ food (aka "better tasting"), often even /reducing/ their number of calories consumed.
Part of the problem is lack of money, but the main problem is lack of knowledge/education.
People often wonder why excess grain is dumped instead of shipped off as aid to people that can't afford it. The reason is simple but complex in its implications: the grain is worth less than the cost to move it somewhere else. In addition to the loss of underutilized grain, someone has to pay even more money to move it that in the net is not a cost efficient way to get food to the people that need it relative to not using dumped grain. So the grain is dumped.
One way to improve the situation is to invest in infrastructure to reduce the logistical cost, allowing the grain to compete across a wider range of market prices. However, that investment in infrastructure has to be offset by return on the grain production it effectively allows and has to account for the unpredictability of a global market that the subsidies are crudely trying to mitigate. There is a diminishing return.
One of the big issues in the global market is that grain trade tends to be highly protectionist, in part for food security reasons. While some countries (like the US) produce grain in vast quantities at low cost, most governments do not want to be dependent on foreign countries for their food. At the same time, these policies increase the price and restrict flow of food in these countries in times when the global market is a much more efficient producer. Subsidies and protectionism tend to be very blunt instruments.
I have seen these sort of 'inversions' as well. As an engineer I've pondered whether or not you could create enough infrastructure to create a non-spoiling product which returned enough capital to move the rest. So in the grain situation you might create a simple distillery which produced grain alcohol, which was sold to cover the cost of moving excess grain to locations where it could be used. Grain alcohol has a number of used and it doesn't spoil, further processing grain into alcohol is a relatively self sufficient process (you can use the alcohol produced to run the distiller and still get net positive output.) It of course presumes free grain.
One of the more curious social effects I've witnessed is that someone will dump grain which is too expensive to move, but they are less willing to simply give it to you for your distillery. They note you're getting an economic benefit from their grain (which is true) but they are unwilling to build their own distillery and capture that value but still won't cede the value to someone who does that original investment.
I think this is because, 'If I'm not gaining anything, you shouldn't either' attitude.
Programmers would be pissed if the code written by them gets used by somebody else to make money, while they don't make any money out of it. Isn't this the whole Java debate these days all about. Sun/Oracle aren't getting much money out of Java(While writing/maintaining/advertising it) while the whole world is using it to make money.
How do we make recycling and efficiency more important than personal gain?
Me: "Give me the grain and I'll put it to productive use."
Them: "What do I get out of it?"
Them: "Then why should I give it to you?"
Me: "Because the resources you used to create it won't be wasted."
Them: "Oh, Okay." <- never happens
Now I'm being humorous there but there might be some social engineering needed. And I wonder if one could promise a share of any future profit (if there is any) which comes from the use of the grain.
I always knew 'reward' vs 'punishment' motivations always exist. But only today I had a blinding flash of obviousness that 'no-reward' 'no-punishments' scenarios are equally demotivating.
And understandably so, I would not put in extra hours at office if not rewarded, yet I'm not getting punished either.
zero sum game
One month i only sold 5, but you asked for the other five. If i give you, there will be more things in circulation and now i will be offered less money for my things. Maybe only next month, but i still lose.
now, you give your exceeding production for free. That person that got it for free makes grain alcohol, sells it cheaper than your paying customer. next month your paying customer will either also want it free, or at a much lower price to remain competitive, lowering your next month profit.
The whole problem is people trying to make more money with the grain by creating false scarcity. if they sold way cheaper when they had more production, the original paying customer would have bought twice the grain and made twice the grain alcohol to begin with. and none of that would have been a problem.
The implication is that even slight excesses result in rock bottom prices, and even slight shortages result in very high prices. This volatility is bad for everyone. Therefore the government steps in with subsidies to even out how much farmers get, and to guarantee a surplus to avoid ruinous food prices for consumers.
But there is simply no good way to do this without perverse consequences somewhere...
That's not really accurate. Yes, the total amount of food may not change, but the type of food changes quite a bit. People will eat less desirable, but cheaper food.
The article mentions that it would be better if some of the farmers started growing vegetables rather than grain, but the subsidies don't pay for vegetables.
Same for wheat - low gluten types are cheaper. (Which is basically why they invented the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorleywood_bread_process )
However there is a long lead time for changing how many animals there are in the food pipeline. Thus the amount of meat animals does not increase very rapidly to respond to a bumper crop in wheat. (The meat supply can, however, drop rapidly after a drought or flood...)
And the yearly fluctuations in crop yields tend to be fairly large. Certainly larger than the variation we're likely to see in how much people want to eat.
Yeah it's not like there are mechanisms to deal with this sort of volatility (hint - futures).
It is also a technique mostly for businesses, not consumers. How many consumers do you hear about controlling next month's food bill by buying their produce on a future's market? Right, none.
This ignores a subtlety. If one consumer locks in a large fraction of the supply at a low price, then the supply is smaller than expected, you've made the supply-demand problem more extreme for everyone else. So futures allow entities to lessen their own volatility, but that increases everyone else's volatility.
That whole region had ridiculous yields for years after Mt. St. Helens blew (it was in the ash plume -- great fertilizer) but they had difficulty moving that volume economically during years when the rest of the country had high yields. Or at least that is my recollection as a kid. Once they started dumping grain, the pile only got bigger.
Some of the piles in Indiana and Kansas would make you think they are building a ski slope. First time I saw one I was so confused given that moisture is such a problem and drying is not cheap. Some elevators make a lot of profit managing moisture.
 If you are an awesome engineer and can figure out a cheap way to dry grain / corn, there is one big market for you.
In 1981, Sen published Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981), a book in which he argued that famine occurs not only from a lack of food, but from inequalities built into mechanisms for distributing food. Sen also argued that the Bengal famine was caused by an urban economic boom that raised food prices, thereby causing millions of rural workers to starve to death when their wages did not keep up. However, this argument has recently been undermined by evidence suggesting significant decline in food availability in the Bengal Famine. This implies the curious irony that Sen had bought into precisely the excuse used by the War Cabinet to refuse aid to Bengal -- that hoarding, not a lack of food, was the famine's cause.
Sen's interest in famine stemmed from personal experience. As a nine-year-old boy, he witnessed the Bengal famine of 1943, in which three million people perished. This staggering loss of life was unnecessary, Sen later concluded. He presents data that there was an adequate food supply in Bengal at the time, but particular groups of people including rural landless labourers and urban service providers like haircutters did not have the monetary means to acquire food as its price rose rapidly due to factors that include British military acquisition, panic buying, hoarding, and price gouging, all connected to the war in the region. In Poverty and Famines, Sen revealed that in many cases of famine, food supplies were not significantly reduced. In Bengal, for example, food production, while down on the previous year, was higher than in previous non-famine years. Thus, Sen points to a number of social and economic factors, such as declining wages, unemployment, rising food prices, and poor food-distribution systems. These issues led to starvation among certain groups in society. His capabilities approach focuses on positive freedom, a person's actual ability to be or do something, rather than on negative freedom approaches, which are common in economics and simply focuses on non-interference. In the Bengal famine, rural laborers' negative freedom to buy food was not affected. However, they still starved because they were not positively free to do anything, they did not have the functioning of nourishment, nor the capability to escape morbidity.
sounds more like "helping my friend producer with tax money" than "keeping market stable"
And giving money to the needy, if necessary.
For one thing, if you finance the handouts with taxes rather than printing money, they will have no effect on inflation.
The Federal Surplus Relief Corporation was created for the sole purpose of maintaining America's agricultural output, which then and now, was the primary source of America's economic strength. Maintaining food production also meant that many of the associated farming jobs would remain intact, preventing the crisis for worsening.
The farming jobs supported many skilled industrial production jobs, especially for heavy equipment such as tractors. This would prove invaluable a decade later when the U.S. entered WWII and the factories began producing weapons and tanks. The factories already had plenty of trained workers ready to work the lines.
All of this is covered in most high school U.S. history courses.
Now, FDR did a lot of things and some of them worked pretty well. He'd touched off the fastest industrial expansion in US history a few months before he killed it with the NRA, for example. I'm not aware of any current economic school of thought that would endorse the idea that price supports actually helped with the depression. A Keynesian would say that you have to run a deficit to increase the aggregate demand, a Monetarist would say you need more money to increase aggregate demand, a Supply-Sider would say you can't help, a Socialist would say the state needs to take over the means of production, etc.
Now, I do have friends from states that rely on agricultural subsidies, and their high school history textbooks evidently did wax poetic about how awesome agricultural subsidies were, but that isn't in most American's high school educations.
I think that's not correct.
Sectors by percentage of the US GDP: agriculture: 1.2%, industry: 22.1%, services: 76.7%
Arms and weapons alone (one of the main perceived sources of "America's economic strength" abroad, along with intellectual property and others) make more than that (sources estimate between 1% and 4% of the US GDP).
It's a really good book you should check it out.
Firstly Farming in India is currently very unproductive. To understand why this happens, you have to understand some history. India was even from its very existence in history a huge sub continent ruled big and small kingdoms, with Agriculture as its main source of work. And Farmers were always taxed in return for many things. Add to this shortage of rainfall, droughts and other occasional problems forced farmers to mortgage their lands for some money to rich landlords. These problems went to an extent till farmers were almost synonymous with slaves. The Naxal terrorism problems has deep roots in this history.
I have many friends who come families of farmers. And you can still hear the old stories. The lands get passed on from generation to generation through inheritance. And every time the land is inherited it gets divided among sons. So with every generation each person gets lesser and lesser land to harvest on. With growing population you can now image with each generation, number of farmers increase but the land available for farming decreases. This makes farming a highly unproductive business in India.
This is coupled lack of modern logistics to distribute, modern machinery or harvesting and farming. All these stories of rotting grains that your hear of is because, the crops are often sold to local middlemen with farmers often given an unfair deal. The middle men take real hefty cut, and both the farmers and consumers suffer. Also middle men again sell to places called 'mandis' which inturn are very inefficient ways of distribution.
The policies ran by Government of India utmost work as patch jobs. There is no long term vision to improve the situation of farmers. Providing subsidized pump sets, lower interest loans etc only give the farmer a longer rope to hang himself. There are no incentives to bring in larger agricultural reforms, to modernize distribution, to eliminate middle men(In fact in the recent FDI debate, some MP's actually sided with the middlemen, can you believe that?), to improve logistics, cut corruption, fight bureaucracy, bring in mass farming techniques, infrastructure and equipment.
Agriculture policies are just one election to the next bait to get farmer votes.
Even until say a generation and half back. During my Dad's times it was quite usual for couples to >10 kids. It was considered a sign of pride!
Apart from that there are other social issues. Social security is a huge problem in India, Pension is a cruel joke. Other form of income during old age include rent from real estate or meagerly savings. Amidst all this kids are considered as a somebody who can take care of their parents.
For the west this might sound strange, but parents are a integral part of the family. In fact family means Parents, siblings and their kids included.
In all this Boys are considered cash cows. Because they are perceived as somebody who can earn and feed them in old age. Girls are considered money drains, as they marry and go away to their husbands home, to never return or contribute much. There is also a huge problem of dowry(Mandatory gifts given to girls during marriage) which makes girls look like burdens. The Indian middle class is also shy to send Girls to work.
All this contributes to 'reproduce until you get a boy' problem. The rest is left to your imagination. Especially when more population leads to more of it, merely by its very dynamics.
So you see the problem isn't that simple. Sometimes its genuine. Imagine you are old, need food, clothes, medical care. You need money for it, you see your neighbor get all the help from his son. While you get no help from your daughters.
The natural reaction is ... 'If at all, I had a son... I wouldn't be in this state today'.
These problems are not that simple to solve.
But I can see how there might be a long way to go - if women could work, they could provide and so on...
There are also security issues. Indian cities haven't been very safe for women especially for women working at night. Crimes against women are common. Also there lack of affordable places like creche's and day care centers for kids preventing women from working post maternity. Most working women quit jobs for this very reason alone.
Secondly, even if women work. The situation in India is worse enough to make them spend that money on their own selves and their families, than their parents.
But I agree, with you that women must be encouraged to work more.
Only 60 years ago it was common in the western world that women had to stay at home to take care of the family and household chores. I don't think it was only feminism that changed that, but also technology. For example washing machines probably saved a lot of time (even a bachelor can wash their own clothes these days). Not sure how widespread access to such technology is in India?
GDP per capita is about $3500, adjusting for PPP. 31% of the population has improved sanitation.
So, washing machines are not very widespread.
>Imagine you are old, need food, clothes, medical care. You need money for it, you see your neighbor get all the help from his son. While you get no help from your daughters.
That's incredibly sexist. As far as I can tell, it is in fact the other way around. Their sons usually try to avoid that responsibility and it is their daughters who actually spend time with them and try to work out their problems
Alas just 'spending time' doesn't solve all problems. You need somebody who can 'spend money' too. This is not an anti-girl rant. This is the saddest reality of our country. The middle class is overly male chauvinist and doesn't like sending women to work. Once married, the girl contributes literally nothing financially to her parents.
Firstly this is not a problem among the rich and the poor. Because Rich have money and poor don't mind women working.
Its the middle class which is in this problem. If you turn blind eye to this root cause. You can give as many moral lectures as you want on why this is wrong. Nothing will change.
Because people know deep inside them old age is imminent, and they will need money/financial support to survive then. Bitter truth!
So when I describe my parents take on dowry (i.e. no dowry, we want a daughter, not a daughter in law etc), people think I am joking.
(I don't remember why I am writing this anymore)
>You would be surprised to hear that my friends (girls and guys alike) don't believe me and think I am joking.
Not surprising at all. In fact I'm finding it difficult to take you seriously. Given how many mouths you have to feed. Your family will be really big which 2 parents + 2 parents + 2 kids(assuming) + you and your wife. That's almost 8 people. Maintaining a family of 10 people, their expenses, bills, health care is a costly business, Even if you have your own BIG home. Else add rents et al to additional expenses. Plus you have kids education + their expenses. And your own family expenditure. Unless you are earning really huge I don't see you will make it through.
Therefore even though you may want to. But still you may not be able too.
>>In their opinion, I don't know what I am talking about, and will not care about anyone once I get married. TL;DR, People, even daughters laugh at you when you promise to take care of their parents equally as your own.
They are just trying to deal with reality.
The Hesperian's "Where There Is No Doctor"  offered another explaination - in some parts of the world people are too poor to not have many children. A child needs few years to grow, and then it can work for the family. This makes children an investment that returns itself with profit after few years, and it is good for the family to get many of them.
 - http://hesperian.org/books-and-resources/
The actual reasons really are 'reproduce until you get a boy' or 'have as many boys as you can' so that you can have something depend on in old age.
You would because, you are not 60 and you are not being forced to do small time jobs for paltry income to just afford food, clothing, shelter and medical care.
A person goes and works small time jobs, struggles to put food on his table. He spends almost nothing. Struggles to pay rents, or buy clothes. All this while his hand and legs have no strength. Yet his peer who has a son eats dal, roti and kabab at home watching television.
Go and all the best trying to lecture that person, why not having a son was OK.
Honestly if you were to ask me, merely the thought of being that person scares me. I would save like hell now, have enough money to feed me until I die than be in such a position when I am 60.
Honestly, the thought of becoming either(small time job vs comfortable living with son oldman) of those old persons scare me. I would rather be an oldman, more like Ron from "Into the wild"(think lifestyle business), than either of these. Unfortunately, i can't rely on Federal Health care or pension for that.
The indian goverment needs to build storage, build a transport system to replace the old british one that is dated. So many things theyt could be doing and should of been doing and yet all the warning signs get ignored.
Firstly they need to look at the price they pay as the sad fact they have paid so much has allowed the GM crops to sneak in via various crop priomises and alot of farmers jumped onto that bandwagon, found themselfs in debt they could not pay and cmmiting suicide to maintain honour. So any drop in price would be impacting and needs to be done slowly. You cant hook a farmer onto a subsidy crack-pipe without weaning them off slowly, but there again people dont apprecieate that money can also be a drug.
Sadly this pattern of growth/overstock etc is common in many area's of the World over time and as I mentioned the whole butter mountain/dairy one the EU had in its early days being a good enough example. Exports would be one area, though they will take a loss, but better a small loss than losing it all.
I know that the issues in India are far more complex than this. I am over-simplifying in a gross manner. That said, I can't help but feel that "civilization" has degenerated into the lunatics running the asylum world-over. I don't know what the solution might be, but it is almost unthinkable to see millions of people dying rather than millions of people mounting a revolt to take control of what is rightly theirs: Their country, their land, their resources and their very lives.
Here's a case where the actions of a few in power are likely a huge part of the reason for millions dying every year. What is wrong with humanity?
For reference: soon after being formed, India was given 0 chance of survival, with a common theme being that the country would soon break up into a million different states.
That country with more languages, cultures and dialects than Babel is still here.
Further, for the longest time India depended on foreign aid to feed its people. Until they finally did something about it and ushered in the green revolution which turned Punjab and many other states into bread baskets. India has gone from a place where people died in famines to a place where they can actually worry about improving nutrition standards.
And the subsidies being reviled today played an important part before to make this discussion happen in the first place.
India built the IITs. Which went on to power companies across the globe.
They built their own space program, and they also built the Non Aligned movement during the cold war, which was a pretty nifty achievement.
They currently supply some of the larger contingents to the UN. (And some of those contingents are mired in corruption charges.)
India is a stupidly complicated country. I could go on for pages about its ills, at the same time point out genuine accomplishments it has achieved.
Edit: removed a line which was argumentative.
One has to admit that there is something wrong with the way governments are working world-wide (not just India or the US). Examples abound of everything from flat-out government corruption to governments making decisions which often-times have consequences that affect millions in very negative ways. It's a weird time because we are so connected that it is easy to see these things happening all across the world. Fifty years ago it was very hard for the average citizen of any country to get a play-by-play account of what was going on around the world.
Today you can get a good picture within an hour of sitting down at your computer. One of the pictures I am getting is that we have all allowed governments to do more than they should. And we are all paying for it in one way or another. To be auto-critical, the disastrous economic downturn that we have been navigating through was nearly 100% caused by the US government deciding that it was politically important to put into place a framework that allowed almost anyone to own a home. Yes, private enterprise and Wall Street took it from there. It was government that enabled and promoted this and provided the ecosystem within which the disaster was created. Other examples of this are wars nobody wants, military bases all over the world and foreign aid that often ends in the hands of dictators and questionable characters.
Being hopeful, I see a future where the Internet connects people to the point where governments simply won't be able to cause so much damage at the local or global level. I think that era is slowly coming to an end.
err.. you're talking about the Wall Street and big pharma types, right? Oh wait, no.
That's what I was wondering. There is something making the rounds called Ug99, a form of wheat rust capable of destroying 80 percent of all known wheat varieties (PBS). The protocols may be inept but to what extent could the government just be trying to contain a botanical pandemic?
Its so entrenched in the billion person economy, there simply seems to be no way for the educated classes to have an impact and change this. Any ideas on how this can be changed?
People feel what they do is right, and what others do is wrong. No matter what the truth is.
The educated are the ones with money, and if you have money in India, you can get away with almost anything unscathed. Notice how the wealthy/rich/educated are almost never standing in lines in India. It is always poor folk in line; the rich have paid someone to either stand in line, or the government agent to cut ahead of the line.
As someone said, India's problems are too complex to propose simple solutions. Educating the masses is just one prong of a multi-pronged approach to making things "right".
I heard one of the founders speak http://www.efarm.in (he runs another site connecting farmers called http://www.efarmdirect.com). His views are quite interesting and he is using IT as an enabler to solve some of the issues. They are trying to use basic mobile phones to gather supply info, feed that information above the chain.
"The ruling party has been the worst manager of the demand-supply of food grains."
the very idea that a political entity can 'manage' supply and demand.
When asked who actually is.. The answer is obvious.
'Its the government'.
The article is very simplistic and alarmist. Things are much more complex, and it's high time Western readers stopped using the "developing" (read: industrial) world to boost their perceived moral superiority.
Why are political articles about the US not allowed on HN, but Indian are?
Former USSR republics are prospering well.
http://doingbusiness.org/rankings and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_vehicles_...
I'm a web developer and I want to solve this distribution problem. I've been trying to think of a business model to sustain it but have come up with nothing.
You can say the same about almost any country.
The state of poverty and despair in western countries is far more mind boggling to me than in developing countries.
I agree our own poverty situation is awful, but honestly that's another reason to not be spending tax money the US International Food Aid Program. What if we spent that ~1.2 billion each year on feeding our hungry children, trying to reduce the number of families in poverty etc..?
The US gets a lot of value from having a friend in the region. Especially one with the military capabilities that India has.
But really, my point is that we live in a complicated world. It's idealistic (naive?) to think "how silly, people are starving yet they have a space program or a nuclear program?!" Science and energy aren't wasteful places to be spending money. Frankly, we live in a world where military spending can hardly be seen as wasteful.
Oh, yes sure.
But if somebody in my neighborhood dies, I lend them shoulder so that they cry in comfort. Not that they are incapable of dealing with their loss. But because that's how friends treat each other. With compassion and are always there for each other during times of need.
The Federal Reserve has printed trillions of dollars and given it to their buddy banksters and have no trail of it, and we the taxpayers have to pay it back by inflation. Poor suckers who saved for their retirements can go to hell.
End the corporate bailouts, bring the US military budget to a sane level, end the subsidies for big oil and gas, end the subsidies to banksters and we'll have enough to feed all the kids and the poor and provide universal healthcare.
Bank of America Pays No Taxes, Gets $1B Refund: Report
Bank of America, GE Pay Zero Federal Taxes
Bank of America, Citigroup, GM paid no taxes
Federal Reserve Cannot Account For $9 Trillion
We all pay for the research but when it's time for profits it's "capitalism" because socialism is evil!
A 2009 study by the Environmental Law Institute assessed the size and structure of U.S. energy subsidies over the 2002–2008 period. The study estimated that subsidies to fossil-fuel based sources amounted to approximately $72 billion over this period and subsidies to renewable fuel sources totaled $29 billion. The study did not assess subsidies supporting nuclear energy.
The three largest fossil fuel subsidies were:
Foreign tax credit ($15.3 billion)
Credit for production of non-conventional fuels ($14.1 billion)
Oil and Gas exploration and development expensing ($7.1 billion)
The three largest renewable fuel subsidies were:
Alcohol Credit for Fuel Excise Tax ($11.6 billion)
Renewable Electricity Production Credit ($5.2 billion)
Corn-Based Ethanol ($5.0 billion)
Also, you are aware that in 2011 the usa spent .86 trillion dollars on the military and wars? Maybe we should go after that for food aid before complaining about a paltry billion donated from the richest country in the world to our fellow human beings.
Not wishing to belittle the struggle of so many US families - but this isn't quite the same thing.
Roughly 10% of americans were food-insecure at some point in a year (2)
Yes, in India ~50% of the population doesn't have regular access to clean water or a sewage system. Yes, I'd rather be poor in the US than poor in India. But I maintain that the state of poverty in the US (and other western countries) is a far bigger failure than the state of poverty in any developing country.
Also, I can't help but link to this great post whenever talking about poverty:
the mac and cheese one makes me tear up every time I read it.
Consider a morbidly obese person who eats 6 cheeseburgers/day. At dinner time on the 30'th day of the month (payday is the 1'st of next month) they run out of money, and are only able to purchase 4 cheeseburgers that day. By the definition of the USDA, this person is food insecure.
Comparing poverty in the US to poverty in India is a misnomer - poor people in the US are actually richer than the rich (top 5%) in India. I say this based on both personal experience and statistics: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/the-haves-and-t...
The article by Scalzi you cite does not describe the poor in the US. I debunk it (with stats) here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1713461
Their site was one of these "thinktanks" that appear to be an official government agency until you look very closely.
The country is held back by public sector mismanagement and obscene corruption.
"The Ganges River Basin is the most agriculturally productive in the world, but the Ganges is not navigable. The combination of fertile lands and non-navigable waterways makes the region crushingly overpopulated and poor."
It's annoying they don't have a price between free and $349/yr. I'd pay $100-150.
British went to India (on what visa?) and looted the country shipping everything valuable to Britain. And now British can't let Indians into their country because of visa restrictions? That is fair right?
American's also don't let Brits in because of Visa issues - and after we, almost successfully, taught them to speak English
>>Britain liberated India from a Mughal conqueror
So called Mughal conqueror also thought he is a liberator.
Tell that to the Christians of Orissa or Muslims of Ahmedabad or Kashmir.
50,000 Christians fled in Orissa in 2008, thousands of homes destroyed and dozens of Churches burnt.
Thousands were still unable to return because of Hindu extremists more than 1 year later:
Remember when Hindu-dominated BJP kicked Jaswant Singh out of the party for saying the truth?
Jaswant Singh: "Look into the eyes of the muslims that live in india and if you truly see through the pain that they live of which land do they belong to? we treat them as aliens! because somewhere, inside we continue to ask that 'even after pakistan you still want something?' these are citizens of india now. that was jinnah's failure, because jinnah never left and never really advised the muslims that stayed back."
-Muslim parents are not averse to mainstream education or to send their children to affordable Government schools. The access to government schools for children of Muslim parents is limited.
-The average amount of bank loan disbursed to the Muslims is 2/3 of the amount disbursed to other minorities. In some cases it is half. The Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to extend banking and credit facilities under the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme of 1983 has mainly benefited other minorities marginalizing Muslims.
-There is a clear and significant inverse association between the proportion of the Muslim population and the availability of educational infrastructure in small villages. Muslim concentration villages are not well served with pucca approach roads and local bus stops.
-Most of the variables indicate that Muslim-OBCs (Other Backward Class) are significantly deprived in comparison to Hindu-OBCs. The work participation rate (WPR) shows the presence of a sharp difference between Hindu-OBCs (67%) and the Muslims. The share of Muslim-OBCs in government/ PSU jobs is much lower than Hindu-OBCs.
Firstly Muslims participated and contributed equally to Indian 'Freedom' Struggle. Notice the word 'Freedom' there! Indians consider it Freedom, being an Indian I've never read anything in our history books, which considers the post mughal period as a the period of 'Freedom'.
Secondly British stole a lot from India, took it back to England to make itself rich. Mughals as far as I know did nothing like that. The conqueror never went back, In fact he united India and contributed to India's rich cultural heritage in music, poetry, science, wealth and in nearly every aspect of life.
After all that India was never a nation ruled by single ideological power. Mainland India has been ruled by Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists(Asoka was a Buddhist), atheists. And there have been no defined borders of Mainland India throughout history. Which has been area from the north starting from southern tips of Russia, the whole of Afghanistan and then extending on the east till Iran.
India has been ruled by people speaking various languages, cultures, skin color and ethnicity for thousands of years.
The British rule in India was full of continuous exploitation of the Indian masses, both politically and economically. The value of freedom can't be measured in diamonds.
To learn more, start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_independence_movement
That's a sad, sick peace of imperial mentality. Would you rather be butchered by an army of some foreign people who consider people of their skin to be superior to yours, and then say it's only some diamonds?
What did the British steal from Native Americans? Only some gold?
What did the British steal from European colonists of America? Only some tea?
Even 60+ years after independence India and Pakistan are still virtually at red alert because of the lack of trust and because of the Kashmir dispute and both countries spend billions of dollars to arm their military while 75.6% of Indians and some 60% of Pakistanis live under poverty (live under $2 a day according to HDI). It works out well for the weapons manufacturers of the world, the taxpayers of India and Pakistan are helping the economy of US, UK, France, Germany etc by buying billions of dollars worth of killing machines.
Thats, well I don't know how to categorize that.
The brits - the East India Company to start - destroyed several different kingdoms starting with Bengal. They also demolished the Rajputs, the Sikhs, the Marathas - all Hindu Kingdoms. They demolished the Sultanate that ruled from Delhi, and several other princely states.
You could even say they were equal opportunity in that - no matter what religion you were, you would be cowed, because, well - they knew how. Divide and conquer worked.
They also didn't put Hindus back in charge. They realized that they needed a new class of people to work for them and then worked to create a peon/intelligent worker class. They didn't choose those people based on religion.
Ummm, no you did not teach them to speak English.
Rather, "you" eradicated the parts of the population that did not speak English.
As many "hackers" work on the next farting iPhone app or the next photo-sharing service that will leverage your social graph to puss fake viagra ads, stories like this need to be promoted to shame people chasing pathetic first-world problems.