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So let's summarize: The Indian government spends billions of dollars (which are desperately needed for other purposes in a poor country like India) propping up the price of wheat. This causes many farmers to switch from growing vegetables to wheat. The drives up the price of vegetables, and would drive down the price of wheat, except for political reasons the Indian government would rather let the wheat rot than give it away cheaply. As a result, many of the poor can't afford wheat, and the ones who can can't afford anything but wheat, leading to rampant malnutrition.

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.)




I don't think it's yet even at the level where you can start debating socialism vs. other systems. In India, there are endemic problems with enforcing the law, especially with respect to the wealthy/privileged. Just ensuring that no one can flout the law and get away unscathed would go a long way in alleviating these sorts of issues.


Rant : There is no implementation of any kind. No scalability of judicial,medical etc systems due to the population, largely self-centered mindset, lack of time to keep up with huge economic gaps, most importantly the country being ruled by goons (more than half of Indian leaders have criminal records). Getting into Indian political system is simply not possible for a person, necessary to initiate a change.

Researches study, but the figures they come up are far far away from reality. That is because everything exists on paper just not practically.


>>largely self-centered mindset

Can you possibly imagine surviving in that kind of jungle without being self-centered?


>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).


Could you explain how would enforcing the law against the wealthy/privileged affect this situation at all?

Please be specific about the mechanics.


I am not the OP but let me try.

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_377_of_the_Indian_Penal...


I'm well aware of corruption and the antics of Salman Khan. I absolutely don't dispute that India needs to fix this problem to make real progress.

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)?


My bad. I kind of overlooked your statement where you mentioned 'how it would affect this situation'. On that note, I agree with you, law enforcement won't really help this particular situation.


I'm obviously not privy to the inner workings of Indian politics, but I can give you a possible sequence of events. One of the reasons that the food is rotting is because of poor storage. The government has decided that jute, and only local jute, can be used to make bags to store the grain. Foreign jute or other materials, such as plastic, are not permitted[0].

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.

0: http://hackerne.ws/item?id=4187264


If what OP said is true, then it seems like the weakness of law enforcement in India is the only thing that prevents these bad policies from causing a full-on disaster.

Vigilant enforcement of bad laws is not a good thing.


Its when you have problems enforcing the law that you most need to start worrying about the size of the government. If you had a process of weird and unfair price supports but a government that functioned pretty well (like we do in the US) then that sort of sucks but its tolerable. When the government is going that but making a mess of it (like in India) then its not so tolerable.


BTW, India requires that only jute bags produced by a protected local industry be used for storage. No plastic or foreign jute. Not surprisingly there are not enough bags.

This is contributing to the problem: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405270230444140457748...


Isn't India the country which developed non-violent mass civil protest?

It seems crazy that people wouldn't just use plastic bags in open defiance during a serious shortage.


Not sure how that example is indicative of Socialism.

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.


I agree that corruption and incompetence can be found in all nominal styles of government. The labels (socialist, capitalist) are distractions from the unpleasant reality.

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).


India is an actual democracy (edit: should have said semi-capitalist or mixed economy, sorry), not a socialist state, mind you. The trouble here is bureaucracy and mismanagement. The government is trying to prop up farmers, but this comes at the expense of millions of its citizens. (Note that most other governments aren't anywhere as dysfunctional, in case you were thinking of blaming 'big government'.)

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.


Socialism is an economic system; democracy is a system of governance. India is a socialist democracy. It is not communist but it also not a liberal democracy à la Fukuyama et al.


Isn't it pretty much a capitalist economy? I was under the impression most of its wealth was in private hands. It was socialist over 2 decades ago, but the tide has mostly shifted towards capitalism, and growth has been fast.

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.


Sort of, there's a big sliding scale between free markets and socialism. Hong Kong is less socialist than Denmark, is less socialist than America, is less socialist than France, is less socialist China, is less socialist than India, is less socialist than Cuba, is less socialist than North Korea.

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.


China is less socialist than India? Citation?


> Socialism is an economic system; democracy is a system of governance.

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.


They looked very much alike because most of them were socialist dictatorships, or socialist oligarchies. Their economic system didn't decide the shape of government.


> Their economic system didn't decide the shape of government.

Decide? No. Correlate strongly with? Yes.


"tl;dr: Socialism, lol."

Corruption and incompetence span all political and economic systems.


Summarising this article with "Socialism, lol" is about as valid as summarising an article about Somalia with "Libertarianism, lol". Your socialists are straw-men.



Those disagreeing that this is socialism aren't really attuned to the previous socialist attempts and engineering outcomes.

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.


"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.


Making an ideological debate of it is a sure way into desaster.

"""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.




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