[Marxism] Indian realities

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Mar 3 12:38:08 MST 2006


India Today, August 22, 2005
Living It Up
By Dilip Bobb

India ranks No. 1 among the countries with highest consumer confidence, 
according to AC Nielsen.

I can remember a time," goes one of comedian George Burns' most famous 
quips, "when the air was clean and sex was dirty." Back in the mid-70s, 
that was certainly true of India. Pollution was something bees did with 
flowers and sex was a subjective personal pronoun, not an active verb. In 
an age before buzzwords became, well, buzzwords, India had one: socialism. 
Bequeathed to us by the Iron Lady with the white streak in her hair, it 
meant Soviet-style deprivation and denial. The aim was political, the 
consequence economic.

For those luxuriating in today's consumer nirvana and bewildering choice of 
products, the scene even 25 years ago was surreal. Anything "imported", 
from razor blades to M&S underwear, Levi's jeans, Wrigley's chewing gum and 
aftershave lotion, gave you exalted status. An open display of wealth was 
vulgar and parsimony was a Gandhian virtue. Indira Gandhian, that is.

Pre-liberalisation India was a wasteland. The principle of caveat emptor, 
or buyer beware, was Greek to us. As were eating disorders, aids and music 
videos. Malls were found in hill stations and microwaves were something 
beamed from outer space. Like Gandhi, the original one, self-denial was a 
fashionable accessory.

It would be another Gandhi, the reluctant one, who would inspire a consumer 
and social revolution. Under Rajiv Gandhi's leadership, the middle class 
found their place in the sun. Prosperous farmers, a growing labour elite, 
an explosive rise in small-scale entrepreneurs and well-paid professionals 
made up the new middle class, some 15 per cent of the population or 
approximately 100 million strong, representing a market hungry for 
exploitation. Economic liberalisation, politically suicidal till then, gave 
the middle class a recognition denied since India's independence.

===

The New York Times, March 3, 2006
Report Warns Malnutrition Begins in Cradle
By CELIA W. DUGGER

Nutrition education programs for parents would do a better job than large 
and politically popular feeding programs in fighting the rampant 
malnutrition that is stunting the development of more than 100 million 
children worldwide, a new World Bank report says, finding that a lack of 
food is usually not the main cause of child malnutrition


The World Bank, as the International Bank for Reconstruction and 
Development is popularly known, is the largest financier of antipoverty 
programs in developing countries. Its report, titled "Repositioning 
Nutrition as Central to Development," maintains that countries like India 
with staggering rates of malnutrition need to change their approach to 
speed up progress


Some of the facts about malnutrition, familiar to experts but not widely 
understood, seem counterintuitive. For example, rates of malnutrition in 
South Asia, including India, Bangladesh and Nepal, are nearly double those 
in sub-Saharan Africa, which is much poorer.

India's programs to feed children in school have multiplied in recent 
years, but its nutrition program for preschool children mainly assists 
those between the ages of 3 to 6 ­ too late to prevent the stunting and 
damage to intellect that occur by age 2, bank nutritionists and other 
experts say.

A spokesman for the Indian Embassy in Washington said yesterday that he had 
not yet read the report and could not comment on it.

THE PROBLEM OF MALNUTRITION IN INDIA, KNOWN FOR ITS WELL-EDUCATED, 
HIGH-TECH WORKERS, IS STRIKING. ALMOST HALF THE CHILDREN ARE STUNTED BY 
MALNUTRITION, BUT THE PROBLEM IS NOT LIMITED TO THE POOR. A QUARTER OF THE 
CHILDREN UNDER AGE 5 IN THE RICHEST FIFTH OF THE POPULATION ARE ALSO 
UNDERWEIGHT AND NEARLY TWO-THIRDS ARE ANEMIC, THE REPORT SAYS.

"Think of the power of India if all these kids were not malnourished and 
could participate fully," Ms. Shekar said.

Full: 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/03/health/03hunger.html>http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/03/health/03hunger.html

===

Undernutrition and micronutrient malnutrition are themselves direct 
indicators of poverty, in the broader definition of the term that includes 
human development. But undernutrition is also strongly linked to income 
poverty, although by no means synonymous with it. The prevalence of 
malnutrition is often two or three times­and sometimes many times­higher 
among the poorest income quintile than among the highest quintile.35 (TABLE 
1.5 ILLUSTRATES THE SITUATION IN INDIA, WHICH HAS ALMOST 40 PERCENT OF THE 
WORLD’S MALNOURISHED CHILDREN.36) This means that improving nutrition is 
pro-poor and increases the income-earning potential of the poor. In 
countries where girls’ nutrition lags behind, improving the nutrition of 
young girls adds an extra equity-enhancing dimension to any such investment.

<<http://siteresources.worldbank.org/NUTRITION/Resources/281846-1131636806329/NutritionStrategy.pdf>http://siteresources.worldbank.org/NUTRITION/Resources/281846-1131636806329/NutritionStrategy.pdf>



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