A lot of ‘educated’ people (including, I fear, most of those who read this blog) will be surprised to hear that one of the most serious things that have been happening in the world lately is not the launch of some new video game or the defeat of Tiger Woods or some celebrity’s wardrobe malfunction or the inaugural preparations for the Beijing Olympics but that food prices (especially those of staple foodgrains like rice) have skyrocketed, causing alarm bells to start ringing in the highest places (not the sort of places where only Paris Hilton, BMWs and Louis Vuitton-type labels matter, though). Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, has warned that more than 100 million people have been lately pushed down to starvation levels (that would include many tens of millions in
Wonder of wonders, who should be among the first to respond positively (even if no more than with a token) but George W. Bush, President of the United States, who has at once sanctioned $200 million out of a special food aid fund to help out the
I hope some readers will realize I am not changing the context when I mention that I was thrilled when my daughter told me to read a story she had liked in a comic-strip book. The story is about a little girl in rural Karnataka who lived with her grandparents. Her grandmother, a hardworking, simple, god-fearing, traditional housewife, loved to hear the girl reading out a serialized story in a certain magazine, and waited with bated
My daughter pointed out to me that the story had been written by Sudha Murthy. And I discovered not only that my 11-year old daughter had liked the story enough to draw my attention to it, but she knew quite a bit about Sudha Murthy too (which is more than what most of my ‘good students’ in class 10 and 12 can boast of): that she is not merely N. R. Narayan Murthy’s wife but a very accomplished scholar, teacher, manager, social worker and writer – a full and admirable woman in her own right, not merely a useless, expensive and vain ornament as most rich men’s wives are. We had a talk about the sort of people who ought to be respected, with or without money, and she seemed to understand perfectly well my lament that the real trouble with the world is that most of the money in the world is in the hands of the wrong people. I am beginning to have some hopes for my daughter. And I hope also that I have been able to hint at why famine-like situations should develop in a world of apparent plenty, and what sort of mindsets (rather than capital, technology and media gimmicks) are needed in large numbers in order to make a difference for the better.
(P.S., April 18: After reading the above post, Rajdeep, from Nagoya, Japan, sent in the following relevant and highly interesting link: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1725975,00.html
April 19: By the way, doing a Google search with the keywords 'current world food crisis' will yield very interesting results!)