[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Feeding a billion people every day

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Listening to NPR’s special report yesterday, I was astonished to learn that some of Nebraska’s farmers manage as much as 2500 acres, with help from few humans and monster machines. I hear Nebrasks’s corn belt is booming but I was left to wonder how could just few people farm thousands of acres? I cannot fathom this conquest of agricultural technology – virtually erasing farm labor from the equation. You may also want to know, Twitter too is part of Nebraska’s success story! (more here)

Nebraska's Farming Profits Abound

On the other side of the globe, Indian farmers are struggling to keep up with rising demand on one hand and age-old, labor-intensive agro practices on other. Add to that the dependence on a lackluster monsoon season. For its part, the government of India hasn’t provided the infrastructure support for electricity, irrigation and storage. As much as half of farm foods don’t get to the people and rot even before it reaches its first trading post. This is pathetic and colossal waste of human and natural resources. Consequently, inflation in food prices is at unbearable levels – leaving most Indians to spend all of their income on just feeding the families. Though GDP growth is elevating many out of poverty, many wonder if it is as effective as economic theory suggests.

Such is the state of food production in a country that must feed over billion people every single day. About 250 million of that are adolescents – whose health and nutrition is crucial for the future of India. There is no concerted vision or effort from government or private sectors to address these problems holistically.

India’s problems are manifold and which one is a priority is debatable. In fact, the endless is debates amongst political groups and media is one reason decisions are stalled. I believe the livelihood and as UNICEF attests, the future of the country, rests more on agriculture than on information technology or skyscraper-studded cities. Yet, it appears there is no sense of urgency or apprehension around state of agriculture. No doubt, the decision makers are enjoying a smooth ride on the GDP bullet train. When would they have the time to step back?

Pegging our hopes on India's budding entrepreneurship

There were times when some of India’s leaders had the will, but not all the means to make it happen. Today, there are probably many ways to address this issue within a 10-year timeframe, but a vision, leadership and of course, the will, is obviously missing.

The one ray of hope is the phenomenal power of India’s educated youth. I know they are entrepreneurial (Tarun Khanna, a Harvard Professor claims billions of entrepreneurs here and here!) with the will and capability to take the best from around the world and mix it with the best of India’s past to revolutionize its future. May the almighty bless my wish to come true soon!

PS: Think Change India is a wonderful place to check out and keep track of growth in social entrepreneurship in India, specifically around agriculture.

Dichotomy of New Jersey

Friday, September 17th, 2010

As a resident of Jersey, I admire the issue of wealth gap that’s not so obvious to many people who live here. Wikipedia states New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the United States of America, yet, data published today indicates New Jersey’s poverty rate fell below the national average, with 9.3 percent of residents living under the poverty line. Anyone familiar with the state knows Camden and Newark are notoriously poor even though Cory Booker (whose saga I have admire) is doing his best to revive.

The report goes on to say this

A record-breaking total of 43.6 million people were living in poverty across the United States in 2009. The figure is the highest in 51 years of poverty data collection.

You know, the United States goes all the way out to save countries from across the globe yet nothing is really being done to save the poorest right here. I am not advocating for a socialist nation but I am advocating for what Aristotle might have called Capitalism in moderation. I love this country for what it has done for millions and millions of humans, both here and across the world. I owe my own personal success to this country. However, we must admit we are failing on poorest of our own people here, their children and their generations.