Sunday, May 4, 2008

Indian media -poison in the air

StalinCPI(M)'s hero Stalin knew a few things about food scarcity.Only 6-7 miilion killed in the Ukrainian famine caused by his policies

We are trapped.
We have a callous, highly corrupt and predatory state. We have an atrocious police system, brutal, inefficient and indifferent at the same time. We have a judiciary where one can go bankrupt and grow old or die before one gets justice, if at all. So for a straw to grasp at we put a lot of faith our free media- and what do we get? An imperial journalism steeped in arrogance,the muck of it's own biases and making a fortune spreading superstition, blind faith and constant sensationalism based on half-truths and pure lies.In one word, poison.

One of the pet hates of our 'objective' journalists is George W. Bush. Mention Bush and like pavlovian dogs kicked in the balls they begin to scream and howl in rabid anger. Just examine Bush's recent statement on food prices and the reaction in India over it-

(I am translating from Hindi some of the ticker running across the screen on the Hindi 'news' channels)
Bush doesn't like Indians to eat better
Bush unhappy with India's prosperity.
Bush childish and pathetic.
Another gaffe from Bush.

And this is merely the ticker.The actuals reports were soaked in boorishly expressed contempt .
And so on and on ad nauseum for the whole day long, the wolf pack of Indian media and intelligentsia(an unfortunate name for such a brain-dead group) went after Bush.

The communists seemed to be among the most offended.Understandable, as their hero, Stalin knew a thing or two about food scarcity and it's causes. His Ukrainian famine, caused deliberately, killed an estimated six million to seven million.Stalin's famine and terror are described in the seminal book The Harvest of Sorrow by Robert Conquest-
The death toll resulting from the actions described in this book was an estimated 14.5 million--more than the total number of deaths for all countries in World War I.

The brainless and highly anti-American crew of aaj-tak seemed to be as angry and offended as the commies. In their narrative Bush is no different from the ogre who tortures kittens for fun and eats babies for breakfast.But again, this is understandable- this is the same channel that went into a hysterical fit when Saddam was hanged.Sympathizing with a genocidal mass murderer while bashing Bush at every non-opportunity - all in a day's job for this bunch and many others at other news media.

And what did Bush say actually?

Here is the full transcript.The relevant excerpt(what Bush said was in response to a question)-

Q That's right. Good point. (Applause.) And I ask this partly because I'm hungry, but your thoughts on rising food prices?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thank you. (Laughter.) By the way, that's a polite way of saying, hey, man, how about cutting it short. (Laughter.) You know, it's a very interesting debate that's taking place. There's two aspects of rising food prices; one, how it affects our own citizens. And again, we're spending billions of dollars on people who can't afford food, and that's good. We don't have a scarcity issue in America, interestingly enough; we got a price issue. Our shelves aren't going empty, it's just costing more money. And it's why, for example, we've expanded Women and Infants with Children Program, to make sure we help the poor.

Secondly, there is scarcity in the world, and I happen to believe, when we find people who can't find food, we ought to help them find it. I just told you why: There's nothing more hopeless than to be a mom wondering whether or not their child is going to get food the next day. And so I announced a major initiative.

By the way, just so you know, America is by far the most generous nation when it comes to helping the hungry. No contest. We're an unbelievably compassionate nation. And so I asked Congress to put some more money out. It will be over -- it's about $5 billion, over a two-year period of time, of food. Keep in mind, we're spending about $19 billion here at home.

Secondly, I think we ought to change our food policy in Africa and other developing countries. I think we ought to be buying food directly from farmers, as opposed to giving people food. I think we ought to be saying, why don't we help you be able to deal with scarcity by encouraging your farmers to grow and be efficient growers. Otherwise we're going to be in this cycle forever.

Now let me talk about price. As you know, I'm a ethanol person. I believe, as I told you, the interim step to getting away from oil and gas is to go to ethanol and battery technologies for your automobiles. I think it makes sense for America to be growing energy. I'd much rather be paying our farmers when we go to the gas pump than paying some nation that may not like us.

And so -- but most of ethanol now -- or nearly all of ethanol now -- is produced as a result of corn. And the price of corn is real high now. And so people say, well, it's your renewable fuels policy that is causing the price of food to go up. I've looked at this issue a lot. Actually, the reason why food prices are high now is because, one, energy costs are high. And if you're a farmer, you're going to pass on your cost of energy in the product you sell; otherwise you go broke. And when you're paying more for your diesel, paying more for your fertilizer because it's got a lot of natural gas in it -- in other words, when your basic costs are going up, so does the cost of food.

Worldwide there is increasing demand. There turns out to be prosperity in developing world, which is good. It's going to be good for you because you'll be selling products into countries -- big countries perhaps -- and it's hard to sell products into countries that aren't prosperous. In other words, the more prosperous the world is, the more opportunity there is.

It also, however, increases demand. So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That's bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population. And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food. And so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.

And finally, there's been weather-related problems. Some of the major producers of food have had drought. That's what happens. Weather patterns change. And so there's a lot of reasons why the price of food is high. And no question that ethanol has had a part of it, but I simply do not subscribe to the notion that it is the main cost-driver for your food going up.

Anyway, good question. You don't look hungry. (Laughter.)


Nowhere does Bush come across as someone who resents Indians now consuming and enjoying more food than the meagre morsels to which the Nehruvian socialism had condemned them. I challenge those jumping up and down over this to point out the 'offensive' part and explain how it is much (or at all) different from what many others have said including the United Nations and such Bush haters like Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs and several others.

Here is what the UN says-
India, China pushing up food prices: UN

With the major exporters, including India, banning rice exports, shortages are expected to be felt around the world.

Soaring food prices- up 55 per cent from June 2007 to February 2008, and dwindling global food stocks due to more world food consumption than production are seriously threatening the United Nations ability to keep millions from starvation.

Growing demand for bio-fuels, needs of rising population, growing middle class in India and China with increasing purchasing power and erratic weather are among the reasons that have pushed the food prices up to the level where 100 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty needing international help at a time when international donors are signs of fatigue.
(Hat tip-Rohit)

Here is favorite economist of the trendy left, Jeffrey Sachs, who is no friend of Bush or capitalism-
The most basic reason for the rise in natural resource prices is strong growth, especially in China and India, which is hitting against the physical limits of land, timber, oil and gas reserves, and water supplies.

Paul Krugman, another Bush hater gives a decent rundown of the causes of price rise.One of his causes-
First, there’s the march of the meat-eating Chinese — that is, the growing number of people in emerging economies who are, for the first time, rich enough to start eating like Westerners. Since it takes about 700 calories’ worth of animal feed to produce a 100-calorie piece of beef, this change in diet increases the overall demand for grains.
The rise of China and other emerging economies is the main force driving oil prices

One can google and find any number of experts who hold the same or similar views on the causes of global price rise in food- a combination of
high oil price,the rise of China and other emerging economies(which itself is also one of the causes of high oil price), diversion of land to growing bio-fuels instead of food(which has been a pet cause of the environmental left), and bad weather. There is of course debate about which factor is more important (and Bush mentioned all of these) but Bush has echoed what is now the popularly held opinion among the 'expert' class. Let's say a broad scientific consensus exists over the issue.

Clearly those in the Indian media who keep on bashing Bush over this cannot be so ignorant.As Rohit points out in his excellent post-

That it wasn’t an inadverent error is clear from another story the Times of India ran a few days back on the United Nations attributing rising food prices to the demands of the growing middle class in India and China. In fact, Bush’s speech sounds like a recycled version of the U.N statement. Notice the entirely different treatment to essentially similar issues: While Bush was ”blaming” India and China, the U.N was ”raising alarm!” Apparently, a mundane UN agency isn’t sexy enough to be sensationalized.

The Times of India probably calculated that Indian politicians and policymakers would not even bother reading the speech before racing to express outrage. Unfortunately, the newspaper has been proved exactly right. In a rare show of political unanimity, politicians from Left and Right have criticized Bush for a crime which he did not even commit! Of course, it afforded them an opportunity to advance their own agenda with B.J.P criticizing the government’s failure to control inflation while the Communists blamed ”neo-liberal” agenda forced on the Indian government by the Bush administration!

No Rohit, this is not dumbness but malice.
I accuse the persons responsible for these misleading(no, lying) reports of practicing not jounalism but fraud, of reporting not facts but their own biases, of whipping up emotions for a media equivalent of a 'high' and to stay competitive with other media in the ratings . You sirs(and ladies) are not honest journalists but scoundrels.

(emphasis mine)


prasanna said...

Hi Gurmeet

That was a fanatastic post .Its good that you pointed out that th "increased consumption in developing countries" theory has takers across ideological spectrum in US

There is hardly anything offensive in what Bush has said.This is a deliberately manufactured outrage by the friendly Inidan media to hide the woeful incompetence of its political masters to control the price rise.The political class can only manages to fool us by this blind Anti-american rhetoric

Original comment date- 2008-05-04. See here-

T S D Murthy said...

As merchants of mendacity masquerading as maintream media go, TOI is the daddy of them all. The damage done is indelible. Be it the drawings rooms, the office, the saloon, the suburban trains, everyone has the impression Bush is displeased that Indians do not look emaciated enough. Just a slight slant here, an emphasis there, elliptical editing here, u have an entirely different story. If one remembers the TOI Editorial 'Pax Americana' on the day the US-Allies forces went into Kuwait as 'Operation desert storm' was given the go-ahead after Iraq occupied by it in an act of naked agression, one wd know nothing has changed for TOI's purblind editorial policy. When the Babri Masjid issue was raging, Arun Shourie reproduced excerpts from three editorials without mentioning the newspapers and asked the reader to figure out the newspaper. All had the same venefic traits, all dripped with diatribes, all the three could have come from the same pen. Then he went to add that the first two were from the Dawn and the Nation from across the border while the third was from our own TOI.

Original comment date- 2008-05-05. See here-

Jomster said...

I maligned the poor man. Now I feel really rotten!


Original comment date- 2008-06-08. See here-