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Posts Tagged ‘Agra

For whom do the FAO and its director-general work?

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A farmer accompanies his cattle through the fields of Uttara Kannada district, in the state of Karnataka, south India.

A farmer accompanies his cattle through the fields of Uttara Kannada district, in the state of Karnataka, south India.

For farmers small and large?  For the tens of millions of food-consuming households, poor or just getting by?  For the governments and bureaucracies of small countries who want to import less and grow more?  For the organic cultivators on their small densely bio-diverse plots?  Or for the world’s large food production, trading, and retail corporations, whose influence is wide and whose power is vast? [This is an extract from the full article at Monthly Review’s MRZine.]

FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva

There is the continuing if travel-stained hope — held by so many of us, those who work at humble stations in the food and agriculture sector — that, of all those whom the director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO of the United Nations) does work for, it is not that last.  But, since 2011 June, when José Graziano da Silva became the head of the FAO, the signs have been otherwise, and they are growing stronger with each passing month.

What effect does this have on the way the 190-odd member states of the UN deal with agriculture and food, with nutrition and food security, with making food affordable?  A great deal.  These are questions the member states of the FAO (and of the UN) have faced since 1945, with the end of World War Two.  If you read this passage, it helps illustrate how little has changed from one point of view, and how much has, from another, far more insidious and destabilizing point of view:

. . . [S]ome of the basic problems that have afflicted humanity since the beginning of society remain unsolved.  Large parts of the world still suffer from hunger, and the threat of famine is ever present.  Today we are confronted by a new challenge in human history which, if not faced, could sweep away the little progress we have so far achieved — this is the upward surge of world population at a rate never experienced before.

That was the fourth director-general of the FAO, B. R. Sen of India, and he said these words during his inaugural address at the First African Regional Conference held in Lagos, Nigeria, on 3 November 1960.

Sen appealed “… to our Member Governments not only to discuss their problems, but also to avail themselves of the knowledge and skills FAO has acquired over many years in the fields of agricultural development and food production and distribution.”  He said: “While the increase of agricultural productivity must remain the sine qua non of economic development of the less developed regions, the importance of education, public health and institutional factors must be recognised in any plan of balanced economic development.”

The FAO 'real' food price index. What will a private sector 'political commitment' do to these trends?

The FAO ‘real’ food price index. What will a private sector ‘political commitment’ do to these trends?

As you see, it has been over 50 years and few of the deficits recorded then have been banished.  How could they have been?  In the years — the decades — since 1960, many a development theory has been advanced only to be discarded . . . but not before the worst of them were thrust upon poor folk and choiceless urban dwellers, as they are now.

Only the armory of the food giants today is far more potent than it ever has been.  And still more powerful will they become, if championed by the FAO as they currently are.  Graziano da Silva at the end of 2012 November said that the private sector can make an important contribution to the fight against poverty and hunger and promote sustainable food production and consumption.  Where did he say this?  At the FAO Headquarters, to participants whose associations represent more than five thousand companies, during the first in a series of planned dialogues on what the FAO is calling “private sector involvement in poverty- and hunger-reduction initiatives.”

This is deeply worrying.  Food companies, global grain traders, commodities exchanges, multi-national food retail chains, and large processed-food corporations have been using all the means they could muster to influence the FAO during the 2001-10 decade.  Now, under Graziano da Silva, the gates have opened wide in a manner that was still resisted during the tenure of his immediate predecessor, Jacques Diouf (1994-2011), and could hardly be countenanced during the tenure of Edouard Saouma (1976-1993).  What would those who came before — A. H. Boerma (1968-1975), B. R. Sen (1956-1967), P. V. Cardon (1954-1956), N. E. Dodd (1948-21), and J. B. Orr (1945-1948) — have thought of such a swerve marketward?

Indigenous and organic cereals displayed in Bangalore, Karnataka

Indigenous and organic cereals displayed in Bangalore, Karnataka

The signs came early.  In 2011 October, for the World Food Day of that year, Graziano da Silva in an article wrote of “boosting investments in agriculture and food security” but didn’t say whether he meant public investment or private.  What he did do was extol what he believes are the benefits of “boosting cash flows into economically stagnant rural communities,” as the FAO release of that day explained.  The director-general’s words were: “Cash transfers and cash-for-work programmes work in the same way as rain on dry soil, allowing these communities to bloom once again.”

It was a turn of metaphor that, when similarly used by him in an article about eleven months later, infuriated 109 farmers’ and peasants’ movements and associations.  Graziano da Silva and Suma Chakrabarti, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), wrote an article published in the Wall Street Journal on 6 September 2012.  In the article, they called on governments and social organizations to embrace the private sector as the main engine for global food production.

mrzine_logo“The language used by Graziano da Silva and Chakrabarti is offensive,” said the signatories to the common statement issued by the 109 organizations.  “Phrases like ‘fertilize this land with money’ or ‘make life easier for the world’s hungry’ call into question the FAO’s ability to do its job with the necessary rigor and independence from large agribusiness companies and fulfill the UN mandate to eradicate hunger and improve the living conditions of rural people.”[You can read the rest on MRZine.]

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Written by makanaka

December 5, 2012 at 16:35

British Bombay’s furious 1911 growth rate

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In 1911 the population of Bombay was recorded as being 979,000 and the city had recorded an astonishing growth in population, adding 203,000 inhabitants (more than 20% in the decade) from the time of the previous Census, that of 1901.

Detail of Bombay map from 'Indien: Handbuch Für Reisende', published by Verlag von Karl Baedeker in Leipzig, 1914

Detail of Bombay map from 'Indien: Handbuch Für Reisende', published by Verlag von Karl Baedeker in Leipzig, 1914

“British India contains more than 250 Districts,” explained the Imperial Gazeteer of India, 1909. “The average area of a District is 4,430 square miles, and the average population 93,000. The average District is thus about three-fourths of the size of Yorkshire, and its inhabitants number considerably more than half the population of that county. The actual Districts vary greatly in size and density of population. For instance, the Upper Chindwin District of Burma has an area of 19,000 square miles and a population of 153,000; Mymensingh, in Bengal, has an area of over 6,ooo square miles and a population of nearly 4,000,000; and Vizagapatam, in Madras, has an area of more than 17,000 square miles and a population of nearly 3,000,000. Among the major Provinces the Districts are largest in Burma and Madras, and smallest in the United Provinces.”

“Burma is about the size of Sweden, with nearly twice its population, and contains great tracts of forest and jungle. The territories administered by the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, though smaller in extent than Burma, contain more than eight times the number of inhabitants and form the most onerous of the Provincial charges. This Province nearly doubles the population of France, though only three-quarters of its size. The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh are almost as densely populated as Bengal, and contain more people than Austria-Hungary in an area less than that of Austria alone. The population of Madras and the area of Bombay approximate to the population and area of the United Kingdom.”

The Gazeteer explained in detail the role of the principal administrators, none of whom seemed more indeispensible than the District Collector: “The ordinary day’s work of the Collector-Magistrate entails many other miscellaneous duties, which vary in accordance with circumstances and of which it would be difficult to give a complete list. The Government looks to him for information on all important occurrences which take place in his District, he is called on to advise on general schemes which may be under consideration, and he is expected to explain to the people any new orders of the Government which they may not readily understand.”

“In times of stress and difficulty his duties and responsibilities are increased tenfold. If a collision is apprehended between Hindus and Muhammadans, or if an agrarian difficulty is likely to result in outrage, it is to his tact and firmness that the Government looks to prevent violence, and, if necessary, to quell disorder. Should the District be attacked by famine he is responsible for the lives of the people; he must watch minutely, and keep the Government informed of, the progress of events, and must organize and carry out measures of relief. For the proper discharge of his many duties he must be accessible to and intimately acquainted with the inhabitants. This acquaintance cannot be gained at the desk or on the bench, and accordingly the Collector-Magistrate spends several months of the year in camp. During his tours he inspects the working of the various departments with which he is concerned, satisfies himself as to the manner in which his subordinate officers are carrying out their duties, and advises and encourages them in their work. At the same time he gets to know the people of all parts of the District, and they have a ready opportunity of discussing their affairs with him. The local magnates will visit his tent with some ceremony; the village elders will come and chat with him about the prospect of their crops, the assessment of their lands, the opening of a new school, some local quarrel regarding a right of way, the dacoity which occurred in the village during the preceding summer…”

Population of Principal Towns (Census of 1911)
Population Comparison
Town Province/Agency District/State in 1911 with 1901
1. Calcutta with Suburbs and Howrah. Bengal 1,222,313 + 115,575
Calcutta and Fort Calcutta 896,067 + 48,271
Cossipore and Chitpore 24 Parganas 48,178 + 7,428
Manicktola 24 Parganas 53,767 + 21,380
Garden Reach 24 Parganas 45,275 + 17,084
Howrah Howrah 179,006 + 21,412
2. Bombay Bombay Bombay 979,445 + 203,439
3. Madras and Cantonment Madras Madras 518,660 + 9,314
4. Hyderabad and Cantonment Hyderabad Hyderabad 500,623 + 52,157
5. Rangoon and Cantonment Burma Rangoon 293,316 + 47,886
6. Lucknow and Cantonment United Provinces Lucknow 259,798 4,251
7. Delhi and Cantonment Delhi 232,837 + 24,262
8. Lahore and Cantonment Punjab Lahore 228,687 + 25,723
9. Ahmedabad and Cantonment Bombay Ahmedabad 216,777 + 30,888
10. Benares and Cantonment United Provinces Benares 203,804 9,275
11. Agra and Cantonment United Provinces Agra 185,449 2,573
12. Cawnpore and Cantonment United Provinces Cawnpore 178,557 24,240
13. Allahabad and Cantonment United Provinces Allahabad 171,697 335
14. Poona and Cantonment Bombay Poona 158,856 + 5,536
15. Amritsar and Cantonment Punjab Amritsar 152,756 9,673
16. Karachi and Cantonment Bombay Karachi 151,903 + 35,240
17. Mandalay and Cantonment Burma Mandalay 138,299 45,517
18. Jaipur Rajputana Jaipur 137,098 23,069
19. Patna Bihar and Orissa Patna 136,153 + 1,368
20. Madura Madras Madura 134,130 + 28,146

ncipal Towns (Census of 1911)

Population Comparison
Town Province/Agency District/State in 1911 with 1901
1. Calcutta with Suburbs and Howrah. Bengal 1,222,313 + 115,575
Calcutta and Fort Calcutta 896,067 + 48,271
Cossipore and Chitpore 24 Parganas 48,178 + 7,428
Manicktola 24 Parganas 53,767 + 21,380
Garden Reach 24 Parganas 45,275 + 17,084
Howrah Howrah 179,006 + 21,412
2. Bombay Bombay Bombay 979,445 + 203,439
3. Madras and Cantonment Madras Madras 518,660 + 9,314
4. Hyderabad and Cantonment Hyderabad Hyderabad 500,623 + 52,157
5. Rangoon and Cantonment Burma Rangoon 293,316 + 47,886
6. Lucknow and Cantonment United Provinces Lucknow 259,798 4,251
7. Delhi and Cantonment Delhi 232,837 + 24,262
8. Lahore and Cantonment Punjab Lahore 228,687 + 25,723
9. Ahmedabad and Cantonment Bombay Ahmedabad 216,777 + 30,888
10. Benares and Cantonment United Provinces Benares 203,804 9,275
11. Agra and Cantonment United Provinces Agra 185,449 2,573
12. Cawnpore and Cantonment United Provinces Cawnpore 178,557 24,240
13. Allahabad and Cantonment United Provinces Allahabad 171,697 335
14. Poona and Cantonment Bombay Poona 158,856 + 5,536
15. Amritsar and Cantonment Punjab Amritsar 152,756 9,673
16. Karachi and Cantonment Bombay Karachi 151,903 + 35,240
17. Mandalay and Cantonment Burma Mandalay 138,299 45,517
18. Jaipur Rajputana Jaipur 137,098 23,069
19. Patna Bihar and Orissa Patna 136,153 + 1,368
20. Madura Madras Madura 134,130 + 28,146

Written by makanaka

August 2, 2010 at 13:16