Once upon a time in a village people used to travel mostly by bullock carts. There was only one bus service from the village to the nearby town every day. Most of the people could only afford traveling by bullock cart and not by bus. Over a period of time the poor villagers worked hard, developed their own industries, earned more, became more prosperous and naturally even they started traveling by the bus. But now since there was only one bus from the vilage to the town, those who used to travel in the bus since long time back started finding it difficult to get seats in the bus and started complaining saying, ‘Nowadays all have become rich and are traveling by bus, which is why we arent getting seats that easily anymore’!!

Does the above short story ring any bell? What do you think is the real reason for people not getting seats in the bus? Increase in the number of commuters, or shortage of buses? Or is it the fault of poor villagers who became prosperous by hard work?

Lack of supply obviously means either an increase in demand or a shortage of supply. In either case the focus should be on increasing the supply and cutting down wastage. But look at the world leaders who instead blame the increase in demand itself for the shortage of supply. And that too when it is about food!!

Yes, I am referring to the recent statements by US and european union leaders which in summary says, “The world is facing a food shortage because people in India and China have started eating”!

And yes, the world according to them is limited to US and Europe.

“And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food, and so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up” -George W Bush, US President

“..growing Indian and Chinese appetite is contributing to the global food crisis” – Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State

“..the huge increase in demand from emerging countries like China and India. These countries are eating more meat.” – Mariann Fischer Boel, EU Commissioner for agriculture and rural development

To summarize they are “complaining” that Indians and Chinese are eating more food there by causing a global food crisis! What they fail to understand is that India and China account to more than a third of the world’s human population! They should be thankful to Indians and Chinese for fasting all these decades so that their western counterparts could have food. But then indefinite fast kills you, so we Indians and Chinese have finally started eating. So my dear so called world leaders, please stop complaining like small kids and instead come out with plans to grow more food. If India and China can try to manage food to its 1 billion plus population each, I dont think it would be difficult to manage the hunger of a few million people, unless they are known to waste more than what they taste.

On the lines of what Mr.Bush and Rice said, the rest of the world has been saying that, and with adequate proof, that today the earth is polluted only because of the mindless consumption of the west. US is still the world’s largest polluter, has the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, consumes largest amount of energy, etc. So?

By the way what happened to all those genetically engineered food crops of US which boast 15-20 times more yield than normal, etc? :)

I still cannot understand how somebody who consider themselves to be world leaders can make such still comments, cruel jokes. Mr Bush and co, please be prepared to a day when even the entire african continent starts eating more food. There is a difference between eating when you are hungry, and eating when you get food. Look at the waste bins in the developed countries. Atleast half of it would be half eaten food. Why do they need F1 if there is a fuel crisis in the world? Use oil for entertainment and race today, and tomorrow not have it even for the basic needs of commuting.

Yes it is true that India have become more prosperous and most of our population can afford good food today. At the same time it is also true that our food production has also increased in the last few years. Most importantly, unlike US, India is not a net food imported, it is a food exporter. In other words we produce more than what we eat. Bush should blame the weakening US dollar first for the rise in food prices. Rise is price is not always due to shortage of goods, it can also be due to a weakening currency.

Here is some food for thought to the world leaders. In 2007 US used more than a third of its corn crops to create bio-fuel! You modify and use your food crops to run your cars and buses, and then blame the rest of the world for eating their daily diet! UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has said, “US and the European Union have taken a criminal path by encouraging the use of food crops to produce bio-fuels and thus contributing to an explosive rise in global food prices”.

On an average, every Indian consumes 180 kg grains per year while an american consumes above 1050 kg! An average american consumes more than twice the amount of milk (not milk products, just milk!) compared to an average Indian! Bush and co can do a favor to the world by advising their citizens not to live to eat, instead of complaining about the Indians and Chinese who eat to live. Cut down on obesity in US, and automatically you will cut down on the food shortage in US too. We Indians very well know that overeating kills more than malnutrition.

According to FAO data, compared to the previous year 2006-07, this year the cereal consumption in US is projected to be increased by about 12%, while the forecast in increase for India is only 2%! This inspite of the fact that India is a nation of 1 billion plus people! The problem with the arguments of Mr.Bush and co is, the absense of supportive data and lack of logic to back the absence of data. Forget all the above arguments, just look at this one, India accounts for more than 16% of world population, but consumes only about 9% of world cereals today. US on the other hand accounts for 5% of world population but consumes about 15% of world cereals! Who is eating all the rice, Dr.Rice? Why blame the third and second world for all american problems? As Indian defence minister rightly said, this was a “cruel joke” made by Bush, about people who some time back lived below the poverty line and have today prospered because of their hard work.

So to summarize, if Bush & co didnt mean anything offensive, and were only trying to give an economic reason for the rising food prices, well, they need to get their basics right first. I personally think that Bush was trying to tell the americans that bio-fuel is not the MAIN reason for rise in global food prices. Well, may or may not be, but then nor is the Indian and Chinese prosperity the MAIN reason either. If there really is a food crisis in US, then please start growing more food crops in the vast lands of US instead of depending on imports for food. A weaker dollar today obviously means Indians would prefer to export to say, to Europe instead of US. A even stronger rupee in the future would also mean that Indians would sell and consume it all within India itself, instead of exporting it.

White House today issued a clarification on Bush’s statement saying “The point I think is that as you increase your standard of living, the food that you eat can venture more into meats that require more commodities to feed the livestock, which uses more of those commodities, whether it’s corn or wheat or other commodities, and it drives up the price”. Well, again for the second time they got the basics wrong, Meat is NOT a staple food in India, we are predominantly a vegetarian country ;)

Finally, on a lighter note, “Yes Mr Bush and co, we Indians will eat more, drink more, and party more, So?…. ;)