india's population has nearly doubled since 1970. so has its foodgrain production. actually, india's food production could've quadrupled, considering the average yield per acre, across the world (including china and even countries such as vietnam and laos, sometimes) of any major cereal (rice, wheat corn) is more than twice the indian average. but yes, india does produce a little more than it requires and has been doing so for nearly four decades.
so why do you still see charities across the western world (and everywhere on the internet) asking you to save indian children from hunger etc.,? india doesn't require any foodgrain imports from the west (except to bridge any very temporary shortfall, just as any other food surplus nation in the world)- so how can any westerner save indian children from hunger? by donating money so that the child/his parents/charity looking after him can buy food. by giving the child/his parents etc purchasing power.
but what most western donors probably do not know is that their money would buy food produced in india and not in the west. for all they know, they're sending food to india.
now, there's another way in which any kindhearted citizen of the west can save indian children from hunger: ask his/her government to stop subsidizing its agriculture. or at least stop spending ridiculous amounts on crops that people of those countries rarely consume- like for instance, the subsidies that america spends on rice production. it throws away more money on the subsidies than the actual output is worth, in dollar terms! if those subsidies are lowered, indian farmers would produce more and earn more from selling a part of their produce overseas. which in turn would mean more purchasing power for indian parents.
p.sainath and many like him do not like that idea because they inherently do not believe indian farmers are capable of the kind of productivity any western or chinese or vietnamese or laotian farmer is capable of. and that is exactly what many knowledgeable people in the west also think, even when they see that their real agricultural productivity is going from bad to worse. so, the indian farmer should continue to live on the indian government's charity, according to people like sainath (he would of course make it sound like he's talking about farmers' rights). and indian children should continue to receive food from kindhearted westerners. (that's what i call brahminized angst).
but is it possible for indian farmers to increase productivity and their incomes by selling their produce only in india?
look at how growth in indian agricultural output has managed to hover around, on an average, 2% a year, over the last forty years. why? because that's more than adequate to meet the annual growth in population? it's like indian farmers instinctively seem to know just exactly how much india needs. or, think of it in this way: if indian farmers had quadrupled their production in the last forty years- where would they have sold half their produce? definitely not in india. which means they've been producing just as much as india is willing to pay for. and india has been paying less and less over the years- from around 50% of gdp in 1970 to around 18% now, which of course, meant more and more distress in the countryside. and now, more and more suicides.
so, why do indian farmers need to significantly improve their productivity if they need to sell only in india? and given the record of the past forty years, how will they manage to increase their incomes by selling only in india? especially, when the indian government/s would continue to control all trade in agriculture commodities even within the country?
why this half-rant now? because i get massively annoyed by invitations to 'click to save an indian child from hunger' and so on, sometimes.