The greatest tragedy of our civilisation is that today we have more people, and especially children, dyiing due to hunger and malnutrition related causes. There are plenty of food stocks to feed everyone but since it is profitable not to do so but to speculate on agricultural commodity futures, people are going hungry. In India at the moment we are going through a black comedy of sorts. Our Planning Commission has said that only those living in rural areas on less than half an US dollar a day can be counted as being poor and deserving of subsidised rations. The compulsion to make such statements comes from the fact that the food subsidy has burgeoned out of control and so the government wants to limit the number of people to whom it will give food at subsidised prices.
Food is something that has to be kept cheap if capitalism is to prosper because increase in food prices and their non-availability invariably lead to higher wages having to be given thus cutting into the profits. However, since the meltdown of 2008 the avenues for investment of speculative financial capital have dried up considerably and it has made its way to the agricultural commodity markets making food prices shoot through the roof. A combination of inflation and recession has led most economies of the world into a debt trap and hunger related deaths are on the rise all over. Food availability is also governed by the sustainability of agricultural production and this is another area where the thirst for profit has played havoc.
In the coming days we will discuss these and other issues related to FOOD and HUNGER.