Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Twin Story: Poverty & Hunger

In a recent email I received a few days ago, the following message circulated over continents.

Title: Food They Bought For One Week And The Number Of Persons In The Family


The Melander family of Bargteheide - 2 adults, 2 teenagers
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

The Revis family of North Carolina - 2 adults, 2 teenagers
Food expenditure for one week: $341.98

The Ukita family of Kodaira City - 2 adults, 2 teenagers
Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25

The Manzo family of Sicily - 2 adults, 3 kids
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

The Casales family of Cuernavaca - 2 adults, 3 kids
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna - 4 adults, 1 teenager
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

The Ahmed family of Cairo - 7 adults, 5 kids
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

The Ayme family of Tingo - 4 adults, 5 teenagers
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village - 7 adults, 6 kids
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp - 3 adults, 3 kids
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

And they of course forgot India. For that please refer to Amrita

The point I am trying to make here is poverty and hunger go hand in hand and just as poverty is created by lack of education and opportunity, hunger its true sister is just a shadow of poverty.

In his article Hunger: Old torments and new blunders in The Little Magazine (Volume II, issue 6) Prof Amartya Sen says, that if all the food in the world were to be stacked together in gunny bags, the breath of these bags would go around the world and up to the moon, six times over!

So where is the food. It is in the rich mans plate, the first world’s greed and the merchants hoarding to keep price up or in the sea to keep the hunger going in the world and the prices upwardly mobile. So only the rich can eat and the teaming millions die, for want of food, clothing, education, jobs and medical care.

In India, the story is not far from this truth. The teaming grotesquely obese populace live in disturbingly close distance from the ones who do not have two proper meals a day.

Yet, in India, there is something that perhaps is absent in many other parts in the world.

Even the poor have not lost their smile! Because, even the most desparate may crib and cry, curse the gods at one moment, but in the next they are still keeping the health and the smile on their faces, because they are not spiritually bankrupt as well.

And this makes us survive the worst yet.

Last, but not the least, in India we are facing another kind of poverty which can be defined in these words - Life is...'leaving the house in the morning for work, dressed in clothes that you bought on credit card, driving through the traffic in a car that you are still paying for, filling petrol that you cannot afford. All this to get to the job that you hate but need it so badly so that you can pay for the clothes, car, petro and the house that you leave empty the whole day"

Ref: Hunger: Old Torments, new blunders

MUST READ: On BBC High Food Costs A Global Burden

Also: Malnutrition Getting Worse In India

Photo credit:


Amrita said...

Julia your post really shakes one up.

In India its a bit complicated, with the vegetarian and non-veg diets. But a vegetarian family of 2 adults and 2 children (middle class) could spend about 15 to 20 dollars a week maybe more.

There is such unequality in the worl, makes me angry.

You watch those swishy cookery programs on TV and wonder what would be the cost of some of those ingredients.
I must link your post for others to read.

Julia Dutta said...

Thank you Amrita for your continued support of my posts and this particular blog.

Frankly I am at a loss of words to really express the sheer gap in the disparity between the rich and the poor and the haves and the have nots. And in this we have gone way outside what Marx was referring to, in Das Capital. Unfortunately, the haves are growing larger, and those who did not have two meals yesterday, have none today. What is there to say Amrita.

My mother was one of the first recruits of the now successful Family Planning Programme. From the Primary Health Centres, many times her work involved visiting the families as well. The sheer poverty she saw there, affected her so much that her own diet changed and many times she said, when she returned, she could not eat at all. We are talking of the late sixties, and early seventies. Amrita, in many ways, things have only got worse.

Janet Jeyapaul said...

A powerful post..the poor will always be there with us I think..if food is not wasted around the world it could go a long way in seeing all are fed

Julia Dutta said...

Hi Janet,
Yes, also if food is not hoarded and thrown into the sea to keep prices up. There is no lack of food in the world. There is only unmeasurable greed!
Thank you Janet for visiting my post,

sukku said...

It's a game that the rich play in order to stay rich....thanks for sharing the post

Julia Dutta said...

Thanks for visiting. I agree its a ploy played by the rich to stay rich.

Sujata said...

Very thought provoking post.

Julia Dutta said...

Hi Sujata,
Thanks for visiting :)))