Азиатские тигры (igor_tiger) wrote,
Азиатские тигры
igor_tiger

Индия голодает, но растёт

Индия - ещё одна страна, на которую призывают ориентироваться некоторые либералы. 
Считается, что в ней тоже, как и в Грузии, много свободы и идут реформы.
Хотя, безусловно, следует признать: Индия, действительно, растёт. Причём растёт более бурными и - главное качественными - темпами, чем дутый распиаренный "рост" Саакашвили. Правда, при этом всё же нужно отметить, что либеральные принципы к индийскому росту отношения никакого не имеют, что, в свою очередь, вызывает некоторое недовольство у анло-саксов по поводу качестве реформ.
Да, рост Индии уже начал понемному конвертироваться во внешнеполитическом измерении.  Дели стал даже заявлять некоторые геополитические позиции.
Однако, с учётом анализа текущих социальных и экономических реалий в этой стране, Индия ещё долго будет расти подобными темпами. По принципу: "тише едешь - дальше будешь (от того места, куда едешь)".

Boston Rewiew подготовил интересный обзорный материал об индийских реалиях.
Есть  в нём, правда, ряд спорных нюансов. Например, тезис о "голодающей" Индии, ибо обеспечение продовольствием - это та первичная базовая потребность, которая уже повсеместно обеспечена по всей Индии. Проблемы такой в стране нет. Еда в Индии не просто доступна, а очень доступна
Где бы вы ни находились - в Индии вы нигде не умрёте от голода. (В крайнем случае, истоскуетесь по мясной кухне или пресытитесь горохом))). 

...В целом, всё это уже похоже на какую-то тенденцию: либералы призывают брать пример с развивающихся, проблемных и очень депрессивных стран (порой даже голодающих). 
Так, если бы Украина следовала либеральным советам, то это привело б её к расколу (как Грузию), ввергло б в депрессию (как Молдову) и к голоду (как Индию). Можно ещё сюда добавить дутые валютные пузыри, накачанные виртуальными долларами (как США, которые сейчас вплотную приблизились к своему "дефолту").
Правда, учтём важный нюанс:  индусы смогли обеспечить едой свои 1,1 млрд. населения. А украинские либерасты не могут решить проблему для номинальных 45 млн. чел. При том, что в Индии нет чернозёмов и сельскохозяйственные поля тоже не пустуют. 


In the  summer of 2009, New Delhi's  Lalit hotel, a 1980s monstrosity that had recently been remodeled, hosted the  "Second Food Technology Summit," sponsored by the Ministry of Food  Processing and the Confederation of Indian Industries, a powerful lobbying  group. Experts and government officials sat on stage, taking questions from the  audience, which included the chairman of the Indian Food Processor's
Association as well as representatives from Coca-Cola.
The  questions were largely rhetorical, lamenting the obstacles to the modernization  of India's  food markets. "No one cares about the sell-by dates of bread," one  man commented. "What happens when the bread gets old in the village  stalls? They fry it in oil and sell it as bread pakora instead." In the  600,000 villages and towns in non-metropolitan India,  I learned, none of the teeming hundreds of millions of residents cared about  the mechanized processes and international standards of hygiene that would
allow India  to join the industrialized nations in their eating habits.

Perhaps  that is because those hundreds of millions have more fundamental concerns when  it comes to food. The enthusiasm for expiration dates at the Summit must seem peculiar to the poor in a  country where 43 percent of children under the age of five are malnourished. In  sub-Saharan Africa, the figure is 28 percent; it's 7 percent in China, to which India is so often compared. The  Indian government's own data show that 800 million Indians live on about twenty  rupees (about $0.50) a day. Half of those are farmers who produce food that  they, for the most part, cannot afford to eat thanks to the demands of  speculators and affluent urban consumers. According to the United Nations Food  and Agriculture Organization (FAO), wheat prices reached a record high in  February, and the cost of rice-which accounts for 30 percent of the typical  Indian diet-hovers at around 22 rupees per kilogram even in Patna and Chennai, capitals of major rice-producing  states. That's about twice the average cost from 2000 until the middle of 2007,  when prices began to rise sharply. The average Indian consumes 73 kilograms of rice  per year, which means that farmers, assuming they eat at least as much rice as  their non-farming countrymen, are now spending some 20 percent of their income  on rice alone.

Yet  dramatically rising prices and the malnutrition crisis were far from the minds  of the conference-goers enjoying their luxury hotel in the heart of the New Delhi business  district. Since the late '90s, government food policy has promoted breakneck  modernization, withdrawing support for local agriculture even while attempting  to bring the Indian people into a more globalized food market as consumers and  producers. This has involved the entire spectrum of food. Government-operated  agricultural institutes emphasize patented, genetically modified crops produced  by behemoths such as Monsanto and support attempts by Walmart and its Indian  counterparts to take over the retail and wholesale systems. These changes have
been welcomed by the 200 million members of the upper and middle classes,  largely concentrated in the metropolises.

For the  officials at the conference, it was a matter of faith that soon the majority of  Indians would join in that welcome. India's embrace of a "free  market" in the early '90s, its rise as an economic power, the presence of  an outsourcing industry closely connected to multinational corporations in the  West, and the growth of a frenetically consumerist lifestyle among the  beneficiaries, seem to have led to the notion that, after long decades of  Gandhian fasting, the country has woken up to a perpetual feast. The colorful  crowds at the new malls, eating at local food carts, global chains such as McDonald's,  and gourmet restaurants reinforce this impression. 

Until  recently, the new eating habits were noted mostly with approval in the West. In  2008, however, they began to come under criticism amid the worldwide rise in  food prices. Many observers have pointed to the use of agricultural land for  biofuels and the growing demand for meat and dairy products as principal causes  of spiking prices. Both trends apply in India, but the government's  free-market modernization scheme has exacerbated the problem further by  encouraging the planting of animal feed in a country that was already  struggling with the basics. Contrary to widespread stereotypes, Indians are not  all vegetarians, but historically, they've eaten less meat than they do today.  
Whereas India  produced just 121,000 tons of chicken meat in 1971, it produced 1.9 million  tons in 2005.

A few days  after the Summit,  I spoke with Vijay Sardana, a food-industry consultant and poultry expert who
had been in attendance. At the Lalit, Sardana seemed a symbol of India's food  markets on the move. He took calls constantly on his Blackberry or made small  talk around the generously laden buffet tables. But when I spoke to him at his  modest apartment in East Delhi, he told a story I didn't hear at the Summit.

"It's  not just ignorance at the farmer level," he said. India's food  problems included corporate lobbying, commodity trading ("all  speculation," he claimed), and government policies that were removed from  the rural reality. Officials at the Summit want India to be the  "food factory for the world," but Sardana was concerned that the  country may not even be able to feed itself.


• • •

The  agricultural town of Armoor,  in the Southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, feels like a forgotten
settlement, no more than a cluster of mostly ramshackle houses and shops  surrounded by a sea of rice and maize. In the summer of 2008, a riot broke out  there. Around ten thousand farmers went on a rampage, setting ablaze three  government jeeps and the two largest mansions in the town.

A few weeks  later, the burnt carcasses of the jeeps were still visible as I walked around  with a man named Devaram, who worked for a leftist party that had been  instrumental in organizing the farmers. We stopped to take a look at the gutted  mansions. In spite of the blackened walls and gaping door frames, the
structures were imposing, standing tall amid the stunted shacks and scrubland.

I asked  Reddy what red sorghum was, if it was something people ate. "No, no,"  his hangers-on cried out. Reddy smiled. "It's for cattle, and for  chicken," he said. "It makes them fat, makes them produce more milk,
more eggs, more meat, so that people in the cities can eat them and get  bigger."

One might  assume that the misfortune of the poor in the countryside would be the  salvation of urban butchers, but they aren't necessarily feeling enriched by  the increased demand for meat and dairy among India's upper classes.

The three Delhi butchers I met on a  sweltering August day in 2009 were all burly men, trying to cover up their  social awkwardness as they waved a folder full of documents at me. For over a  century, the center of slaughtering operations in Delhi has been the Idgah, located in the old,  walled part of the city. The butchers took me on a tour of the neighborhood,  leading me through alleyways that ran past small stalls holding live animals,  the ground beneath our feet thick with grain and droppings. The slaughterhouse  was a large open shed with raised platforms on all sides. The slaughtering and  skinning was done by hand, and things seemed dirty and disorganized. But it was  also, as the butchers pointed out, a place that offered employment to nearly  2,000 people. Few animal parts were wasted, they said, pointing at the vendors
standing outside the Idgah. They were selling goat heads and feet at twenty  rupees per kilo to people who were too poor to buy meat but would use the  animal parts to make stew.

The  government decided to close the Idgah in 2005, and it was finally shut down a  few months after my visit last year, the land earmarked for a shopping mall.  All large-scale butchering was moved to a mechanized slaughterhouse in  Ghazipur, across the Yamuna river. The butchers took me to see the new
facility, sneaking me past the security guards employed by the company that  held the operating lease. The assembly lines full of German-made equipment  looked far cleaner and more efficient than what I had seen at the Idgah. In  place of the chaos of the Idgah, the atmosphere at the Ghazipur slaughterhouse  was one of regimentation and precision. The electric guns were, however,  silent. The few workers hanging about were eager to show me around and express  their discontent at suddenly having to make a twenty-kilometer commute every  day. They were young, carrying cell phones and sporting stylish haircuts, but
they were following a family occupation and felt bewildered at the changes  enforced upon them. Even though the mechanized line was faster than the manual  slaughtering they had done at the Idgah, they made less money now because  animal suppliers were balking at the higher fees charged by the company running  the place.

I walked out of the slaughterhouse with my guides to take a look at the surrounding  neighborhood. The modern, hygienic slaughterhouse sat next to the largest  landfill in the Delhi  metropolitan area. There was a low range of trash being turned over with  infinitesimal patience by ragpickers, mostly children. The sky above was  crowded with kites and crows wheeling in urgent circles, drawn there by the  landfill, the slaughterhouse, and the wholesale poultry market next door. A  canal ran nearby, filled with black slush the consistency of Turkish coffee. It  was crowded with feral dogs trying to stay out of the August heat.

The setting  is a perfect metaphor for India's  approach to feeding itself as it grows and becomes more embedded in the global  economy. Some will enjoy the fruits of that growth, and no doubt there are more
 dians living lives of comfort than ever before. But a gleaming new  slaughterhouse is of little benefit to those still waiting for their slice of  prosperity. Under the banners of modernization and free-market economics, the better  off are rigging a system that caters to their desires, while some of the  world's most desperate people are left to pick at the refuse accumulated at the  edges of luxury. Many countries have high rates of inequality, but  prioritizing, as a matter of official policy, high-quality meat for the rich in  a nation where half of children are underweight seems especially perverse.


• • •

The most  comprehensive effort to address the failures of India's food policy is the campaign  to pass a right-to-food law in Parliament. The stark inequality in India when it  comes to food has already resulted in a mid-day meal scheme targeted at poor,  school-going children. But the impact of the subsidized meals, instituted at a  national level since 1995, is hard to measure. Evidence suggests that the  program has been successful in certain parts of the country, but the quality is  sometimes poor, leading to outbreaks of food poisoning. Corrupt businessmen and  officials siphon funds from the program, and prices are now rising too fast for  the government to keep up.

The  right-to-food movement asks not only that the government provide food to  especially vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women but also  emphasizes the country's larger policy, noting that "sufficient availability  of food" for the hungry "requires that land and water must never be  forcibly diverted away from food production for cash crops or industrial  use." The demands made by the movement are egalitarian, and because the  movement is a loose coalition of organizations and individuals spread
throughout the country, it seems inherently democratic.

Jean Dreze,  a Belgian economist who has been in India since 1979, has been  influential in framing the proposed law. He coauthored a number of books on  hunger with the Harvard economist Amartya Sen and became an Indian citizen in  2002. I asked him what those pushing for the law hoped to achieve, since it was  unlikely that a marginalized, impoverished majority could sue the government  for not giving them food.

"The idea  is not that everyone will rush to court, although that is an ultimate  possibility," Dreze explained. "The law would have an in-built  mechanism for accountability, and we've seen that the government tends to
become far more responsive when it can be held accountable in courts for something." Dreze, who comes across as Gandhian in many ways, and the  members of the right-to-food movement see food as part of a bigger question of  what democracy might mean in India. In our conversation, Dreze expressed impatience
with the Malthusian idea, floated in some Western circles after the global  price rise in 2008, that India's
growing population was to blame for putting pressure on limited food resources.
He noted that population growth was decelerating in many parts of the country  in 2008. If people had more money and work, they could buy more food, he said,  citing Sen's work on hunger in British India, which showed that famines (the  worst of which killed about 4 million people in Bengal)  were a result of inadequate access to food, not inadequate supply.

"If  the population needs to be well nourished, we do need to produce more  food," Dreze said. "But the present system is unsustainable and  inequitable." He argued that corporate interests manipulate the government  framing the policies. "In child-nutrition programs," he said,  referring to the mid-day meal schemes, "the corporations have lobbies to  push packaged food. They had pre-formatted letters sent to various members of  Parliament asking them to sign these and send them on to the ministry  overseeing the program. In some instances, they tried to have cooked meals  replaced by packaged biscuits," which have less nutritional value.

The  government's public-distribution system, which had provided subsidized food  grains and basic cooking ingredients to everyone, has also run aground since  the '90s. The old system was inefficient and subject to corruption, but the  current eviscerated version reaches only a fraction of the people most in need. 

For Dreze  and the other activists demanding a right to food, having enough to eat is a  part of the right to life. In providing food for children, mothers, and  pregnant women as well as for the rural and urban poor, the law would make India a more  equitable country, bringing some kind of check to the deeply hierarchical
market-driven economy that has taken hold. When I spoke to Dreze, he had seemed  guardedly hopeful about the prospects for a right-to-food law. More than  eighteen months later, however, the proposal in Parliament is a diluted version  of the early draft, without either the accountability on the part of the
government or the breadth of coverage activists hoped for.

When I  visited India  last December, food prices were rising once again. Onions, a staple in Indian
cooking, had more than doubled in price, and the government had to resort to  emergency imports from Pakistan, obtained in part with threats to withhold its  own tomato exports. But it isn't clear if there is any desire on the part of  the government to address prices at a systemic level. There has been talk that
the government will work with American companies on genetically modified crops to put an end to future shortfalls, which would do little to alter the  distorted system in place.

There may  be meat and dairy for the privileged at the moment. For the majority, though,  there is not much in the way of affordable food. Just the occasional biscuit.
  
Tags: Индия
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