09 May 2008


We all have seen the elephant headed lord Ganesha, the Hindu god of trade and business. When he was just a little boy, he was beheaded by his dad lord Shiva, off course by mistake. To compensate the mistake Ganesha’s human head was replaced by the head of a baby elephant. This is the happy ending of mythological explanation of Ganesha’s elephant head. Very few of us have ever asked about that baby elephant that lost his head due to mistake of a another person. If you are one of those very few naughty and unruly children, then I am 110% sure that the answer you got was very simple and some thing like…

“The elephant got moksha and went to heaven. It was a glory for him that his head is used to headed a God.”

History repeats itself….every body knows that but the phrase ‘Mythology repeats itself!’ is yet to be coined.
I felt the urgency to coin the phrase when I came across a comment of present USA president last week. He claimed that the upliftment of the Indian and Chinese middle class families has increased the demand causing worldwide food inflation and thus India and China, by consuming more causing the food inflation. So it is our, Indian and Chinese, responsibility (read Chance to glorify ourselves!!) to control the inflation by down sizing our regular consumption.
Food Inflation is the reincarnation of Food shortages which is the well known demand-supply phenomena responsible for many destructive socio- political situations and economic crisis. Presently Increasing price of the staples is creating a pricing firewall for poor people by limiting their access on these regular necessities. Recent riots for foods in different nation like Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Senegal has proved the destructive power of this new avatar, food inflation.

Inflation is a macro economic term meaning an increase in the general level of prices in an economy that is sustained over a period of time is measured for a basket of goods and services. Within the basket, prices of some of the goods and services may rise and prices of some of the goods and services may fall. When the overall price of the defined basket increases for longer time periods, it is called inflation.

In the past three years prices of the global food basket have increased about 83% on an average causing worldwide price hiking of the food items basically food grains. But, who is responsible for it? Is the claim of Mr. President correct?

The questions are yet to be answered by economists. For some economist it’s a cost-push inflation where goods are there as per the demand in the market but supply is discontinued somewhere in between, or the goods have been siphoned to some where else for some different purpose rather than usual use. While some are treating it as demand-pull inflation caused by too much money chasing few goods, direct result of changing lifestyle and increased disposable income. Let these scholars decide the way they want to define the scenario, meanwhile we try to look at ourselves....

Yes, our income has been increased. Yes we are changing our life style. Yes, we are chasing the six-pack abs by consuming more protein based foods. But are we alone? Answer is no. What ever we, Indian and Chinese are doing these days, are well practiced in developed economy like USA. Then, why should we only take steps to downsize the consumption? Sorry, No glorification required!
It is right that population of USA is very less with respect to Indian population. But, consider the fact that every household in USA have 3 pets on an average. These pets are well kept with costly processed foods which require more energy and time investments to produce. Considering these we hardly can say that consuming population of USA is very less with respect to us.

If we look closely at the issue, we will found that the cause side is crowded with reasons like decrease in overall wheat production due to global warming and changing climate, failure in the process in replacing wheat by corn in large extent and use of food grains in production of bio fuel. Global warming, climate change and bio fuel, the trinity behind the ongoing food inflation, are byproducts of western industrial evolution. Mistake was there, no precaution were taken to protect environment, there was no plan for sourcing raw materials for bio fuel, and when result is in front of everybody the shame less blame game really reminds the story of glorification of that unknown baby elephant.