Friday, August 31, 2007

Please stop the aid

I was reading through the latest Scientific American issue, which is titled "Feast and Famine". It talks about the growing danger from obesity in developed (and developing) countries. It also talks about the problem of malnutrition in countries.

India falls in both categories. In a city like Bombay you can see both, quite often next to each other. There are overweight, obese people, walking right next to malnourished children. Actually, the overweight, obese people are more likely to have their driver take them home in an air-conditioned car, while the malnourished kid taps their car-window in the hope of getting some money.

The article "Still Hungry", by Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Fuzhi Cheng talks about the problem of world hunger. Unfortunately, this article is not free, but I'll write down the paragraph that goe my attention:

Internationally, policies and institutions need to do more to guide globalization for the benefit of the poor. Industrial countries should accelerate opening their markets, and the World Trade Organization should work closely with civil society and national governments to remove barriers that hinder the movement of laborers across borders, distort prices, impose unfair intellectual-property rights, and choke competition. The U.S., the European Union, and Japan have erected trade barriers against imports of food and agricultural commodities produced by poor farmers in developing countries. At the same time, they pressure developing countries to open up their markets for the products of industrial nations, including highly subsidized agricultural commodities. These practices are worse than hypocritical; they actively hinder efforts to reduce world hunger.
Quite something to think about!

It also reminded me a lot of the article "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!", by the Kenyan economist James Shikwati. In it, James argues that development aid is one of the causes of the continued poverty in Africa.

With so much poverty and hunger that I have seen in India, I don't care about the troubles of the obese.