Recently a friend of mine posted a link to Vandana Shiva's "Globalization and Poverty" on his blog. This post is a response to some of the issues she's raised in the article. Ofcourse, due to the poverty of my ideas, I am forced to retain the same title as hers.
Read her article here
You can't argue with her when she says that our farmers are ruining their crops by excessive use of pesticides. Nor can you disagree when she talks about people growing water-intensive crops because they are profitable.
However, when she blames globalization, you got to sit up and take notice. See the text of what she says:
"...The drought is not a “natural disaster”. It is “man-made”. It is the result of mining of scarce ground water in arid regions to grow thirsty cash crops for export instead of water-prudent food crops for local needs. It is experiences such as these which tell me that we are so wrong to be smug about the new global economy..."
Its funny how the laws of causality never apply to Ms. Shiva's writings. Well, yes, the drought was caused by farmers growing crops like rice and sugar in water-starved regions like Telangana and Hyderabad-Karnataka. But why did they grow those crops? Was it because of the "global economy"? Why do our farmers use more fertilizer? Is it because of Monsanto? Fortunately for Ms. Shiva, no one asks these questions. Everyone is so taken by her form and fury that they forget to ask ... why? Having asked the questions here, let me try and answer them.
Our farmers use more fertilizer because historically they've done so. And they started doing so because of the "green revolution" that encouraged them in this direction. From 0.55 kgs/hectare, the green revolution brought up fertilizer consumption to nearly 20kgs/hectare in the early 70s ( FAO figures). During those days, chemical fertilizers and pesticides were thought of as the solution to the problems of low soil productivity and pestilence. In fact, comics were produced that drove home this fact! So yes, we were mistaken then - but why do we still use fertilizers and pesticides at such high levels? Well, now this has become a permanent clique of politicians and businessmen who take subsidies to manufacture chemical fertilizers and pesticides, so need a market for them, therefore dumping them at our farmer's doorstep - when was the last time you saw an ad on TV or the newspaper discouraging farmers from using chemical inputs? Pray, what do any of these have anything to do with globalization? BTW, the thirsty cash crops for export that Vandana Shiva mentions are rice and sugarcane - and no, they are not exported (at least not in quantities that lets the farmers profit). Farmers grow rice and sugarcane because of our food procurement laws, lack of infrastructure to store value-rich produce like fruits and vegetables, and guaranteed returns for these crops. So, if you want to blame someone, blame the government for not providing the infrastructure or freeing up internal markets, not "the global economy".
This is a typical tactic used by the eco-terrorists, anti-globalists and communists of all hues. Blind your opponent with flashy English (Arundhati Roy) or tragic scenes (almost everybody). Rant about how farmers are killing themselves, particularly to a largely western audience, and then blame it all on Bush, on globalization, on the WTO, on the BJP, on communalism et al.
Watch this space...