‘Good News from India’ read the headline on the cover of the inflight copy of ‘The Economist’ magazine. It broke the somewhat relieving news to the global economic world that the elections in India has granted the market friendly Congress Party a second term of power. It solidifies a perception of unilateral endorsement for continuous market freedom and growth in India which is now admirably referred to in these pages as an ‘Emergent Superpower’. The emphircal evaluations of GPD growth seems to portray a unprecedented success storey. But sitting on plane having spent the best part of a month in Mumbai I have to wonder at what price does this quantum of economic success come to the typical person we encountered on the sweltering streets of Dharavi.
Another article in the magazine poignantly illustrates the paradigms of our age. A new practice is been adopted in the world where wealthy food importing nations are buying huge tracts of agricultural land in poorer agrarian states. The scale of these transactions are unprecedented. A case quoted is of Saudi Arabia which has paid the Ethiopian government over $100m dollars for use of over 18000 hectares of land to grow Barley, Wheat and Rice. The trade agreement ensures exclusive rights to the land and an exemption of export duties on all crops. The injection of such a large amount of capital to Ethiopia is seen to be equitably beneficial to the state, however the paradoxical reality exists that while crops on home soil are being grown for the far away consumers the majority of the population of Ethopia is one of the most malnourished in the world and still heavily reliant on imported food aid provided by the UNs World Food Program.
It’s another testament of contemporary age where capital markets are prioritised above citizen rights to land.