May 04, 2008

life in general: enough bushism among indians

The US president George Bush Jr has attracted a lot of flak here in India for his statement the other day that India's middle class is responsible for rising food prices.

There are many Bushisms that are outrageous and this one too at first sight seems to be the same. But except for the fact that only India and only middle class has been targetted and that only food prices are being shown concern about I agree with the underlying thrust. Many of blog posts here have talked about the mindless and excessive consumerism but I recognise the fact that it is a global phenonmenon.

All countries' affluent people (that would cover the rich and the middle class) are responsible for so many things -- forced displacement of rural/remote/tribal communities from their habitats, ecological devastation, excessive industralisation's pollution of air, water and soil etc.

But what is more hypocritical about Indians criticising Bush for this statement are two things:

1) There are enough affluent Indians themselves who think that the poor people of India are getting prosperous and so the foodgrain production is being consumed more by such peope. I can vouch for this myself – a month ago, at the end of a seminar on Indian financial markets I was speaking with a senior official of the Forward Markets Commission (the regulatory for the commodity spot and derivative exchanges in the country) and I posed before him the fact how excessive use of chemical-fertilisers and chemical-pesticides have depleted the soil and caused a decline in agriculture yields.

I also asked him the potential future effect on agricultural production in the country of the land grab in rural India going on by a politician-company nexus in the implementation of the farcical Special Economic Zones Act. He evaded these issues and instad told me that he believed that it as the income levels of non-affluent people were going up they were eating more food. I was shocked to hear this. He was actually touting the views of mainstream economists and government officials. Now, how much different are these from what Bush said? What is middle class of India to Bush is lower-middle class for Indian economists and government officials.

So, it is hypocritical for Indians to go hammer and tongs at Bush on this particular issue.

2) And where they should go hammer and tongs at Bush these very Indians are cowardly silent. And that is on the issue of the dubious and illegal war on Iraq and Afghanistan by Bush and his cronies.

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