Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Sunday, October 23, 2016

97/118 ...Not a Rational Number

Italian mathematician, Giuseppe Peano defined a rational number as the fraction of two integers. A proper rational number means that the denominator of the fraction is greater than the numerator. The fraction 97/118 would have fallen into that category. The fact that India ranked 97th of 118 in global hunger index makes the number only improper and completely irrational. This might be an obvious number, considering the fact that India, once called Sone ki chidiya is racing to the top in the number of people born on its soil.

About 20 crore (200 million) Indians are hungry and undernourished. This is roughly the same as Brazil's entire population. Ironically, India and Brazil compete against each other in every aspect like growth rate, GDP and poverty! While growth rate and GDP feature regularly as topics of discussion and in the headlines of newspapers, poverty seldom finds any reference. Should the newspapers then have a separate section devoted to poverty like the business, cinema and sports sections? Politicians are busy, executing the needs of the majority, appeasing the minorities and making news whereas people, with their artiodactylic behaviour let the 'shepherds' dictate what they should be bothered about. Journalists on the other hand are also busy, with some of them trying to glorify the surgical strikes and some others doing all possible research so as to discredit the strikes. India is home to 15% of the world's poor people. Does this not find enough fuel for the politicians, journalists and people to discuss about? Definitely, debate moderators who out shout debaters will have a lot to tell the nation about its poverty.

Improved or improving??
India is the largest producer of fresh fruits, tropical fruits, fresh vegetables, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal (eggplant), cow and buffalo milk, rice, wheat and mainly pulses. India exports about 10 billion dollars worth horticulture produce, second only after China. How is that both the countries are also placed top two in the number of hungry mouths? Is India exporting all its produce without feeding itself first? A hungry man can never satisfy other's hunger. Even though India is the largest producer of pulses, we import pulses from countries like South Africa and Mozambique. Why? And why, with so much surplus of pulses, the fares are so high and people are still hungry? People are still eating spiced up, flavoured Biriyani with Mirchi ka Salon garnered with rich cashew. Food grains are being stashed away so that prices go up and since rice and pulses are the staple food, people are going to buy them, whatever the cost. But what about those who cannot afford the prices? Good business can be done honestly as well. Lee Iacocca and J.R.D. Tata would have loved to explain on that. As said by the historian, Ram Guha who obviously picked it from Mahatma Gandhi, "A true nationalist needs to accept the dirt in his country so as to clean it up."

On the bright side, India has become better in the past decades. Poverty has fallen from 36% of the population in 1990-91 to 15% now. The hungry mouths however have increased. Thus comes into picture the biggest menace in the country, over population. Can we find an answer to this problem?