Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why India’s top cities matter … or do they really?

India’s top 20 cities account for just 10 per cent of the country’s population, but this population earns more than 30 per cent of the country’s income, spends 21 per cent and, so, accounts for just under 60 per cent of the surplus income. The next lot of cities account for 20 per cent of population, 13 per cent of income and under eight per cent of surplus income or savings. Rural areas account for 70 per cent of population, 64 per cent of expenditure and just a third of the country’s surplus income. It’s obvious then that India’s savings can grow only as the country’s urbanisation rises. Given this, the promise of creating more urban centres would be a more effective tool in getting votes from rural India. (via Rajesh Shukla: Why India’s top cities matter).

Twisted data

How about also pointing out, Mr.Shukla, that urban India hogs all the infrastructure investments? Or that traditional banking (in the form of money lenders) has been done to death in the rural areas - and ‘modern’ urban banks do not go the countryside. Or that the traditional health infrastructure has been demolished in rural areas - and urban areas are getting all the investments. Or that credit growth in the rural areas has been choked for nearly 80 years now - and the Indian farmer competes with the US farmer, without the US$7.5 billion dollar subsidy.

Are you looking at the fact that rural India which is largely a user of Indian languages is excluded from higher education, which is transmitted in English? Has it occurred to you that this exclusion of India’s rural population from higher education could be the reason for the stagnation in rural areas?

Farmers - in India and USA

The Indian farmer working without subsidies, with low technology, lower productivity has a cost edge over his European an American counterparts.

Giant food corporations, killed buying competition with high prices (to farmers), direct buying from farmers (at higher prices), monoclonal seeds that destroy bio-diversity. And the US consumers are not getting the lower food prices that are being promised in India.

And paid hacks of these Western corporations are trying to tell Indian consumers and policy makers that these giant corporations will reduce the costs of food In India.

Corporate farming … anyone?

Today, an ‘efficient’ and ‘hi-tech’ agricultural farm sector in the US needs more than US$ 7.5 billion (conservative estimates, assuredly) of subsidies to survive. The US-EPA says, “By 1997, a mere 46,000 of the two million farms in this country (America), accounted for 50% of sales of agricultural products (USDA, 1997 Census of Agriculture data)- and gobble up most of this huge subsidy that lowers Third World agricultural prices. These lower agricultural prices devastate agriculture in Third World countries, creating man-made famines. These man-made famines, of course, gives the West a false sense of superiority. (bold letters mine).

These giant corporations are aiming for entry into India - promising ‘efficiencies’ in buying (which will give consumers a better price), and higher prices for farmers (which will increase farm incomes). Of course, this will last as long as there is competition. Once, these giant corporations, fueled by huge amounts of debt and equity, drive out competition, they will lower the boom on the consumers and the farmer - like in the USA.

Raj Patel, in his book, Stuffed and Starved, demonstrates how global food corporations are behind global food habits, imbalance traditional diets, creating disease epidemics (like diabetes) - and how India needs to be careful before crafting industrial policies that encourage these global corporations to destroy Indian agriculture. A book review extracts some key points as follows,

What we think are our choices, says Patel, are really the choices of giant food production companies. Millions of farmers grow food, six billion people consume it. But in between them are a handful of corporations creating what Patel calls “an hourglass” model of food distribution. One Unilever controls more than 90% of the tea market. Six companies control 70% of the wheat trade. Meanwhile, farmers across the world are pitted against each other, trying to sell these gatekeeper companies their produce. And if you think the consumer comes out on top because of all this competition, think again.

Selective data, is usually called propaganda Mr.Shukla. I wonder, who your minders are?

No comments: