Years back when I first came across a book titled ‘Cultivating Hunger’, in a used books exhibition sales, I got carried away by the title and I grabbed it instantly. This doesn’t happen usually with my buying choices. Yet, the phrase was much like a unique oxymoron, I’ve rarely came across. Later I learned that the book was actually a case study published by Oxfam. The small book’s intention was to inform the public on global poverty.
Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam) is an international confederation of charitable organizations started first in Oxford, Oxfordshire, in 1942. Started by the collaboration of Quarkers ( in brief, a socially concerned group of the Cristian church popularly identified as the “Friends Church’) and social activists, Oxfam focuses on addressing and alleviating poverty on a global scale.
Cultivating Hunger – A Oxfam Study of Food, Power & Poverty (the Full title) by Nigel Twose, in 1984. This little booklet (now merely as 48 page document you might get as a PDF file, online) in many ways is a myth buster on global hunger. This book reveals with undeniable statistical evidences that the global hunger is only due to mismanagement and failure of the world’s food production and distribution.
Among the factors cited often as the reasons for the famine and hunger, the poor and unpredictable weather, over population are mentioned over and again. This booklet terminates these myths and brings the ‘real reasons’ into public focus. My intention of writing this piece is not to introduce or review the book which I’m focusing on, but to take the debate forward, the book had actually initiated. It has been over three decades since the study was published. Yet, nothing has changed big. One might get this point even on shallow viewing of the scenario of current global hunger and poverty.
(The above image shows G8 leaders enjoying a 18 course meal in Tokyo, Japan, in 2008, after the session on Addressing Global Food Crisis. Image Courtesy: dailymail.co.uk)
Hunger and poverty always go hand in hand. So hunting for the root cause of poverty could only be the logical way of analyzing hunger. Global poverty is ever increasing. We learn this plain fact through various reports. Volumes of statistics are staggering enough. Numerous meets, national and international, have been organized focusing on eradicating hunger. Yet nothing has changed much. On the contrary, it’s only escalating. Do you think a practical solution will be arrived at these international conclaves? In my view, hunger and poverty can never be resolved by a group of bureaucrats and politicians, who meet at luxury star hotels and dine over a bashing buffet after the sessions. How could we expect the people who never empathize the poor (they empathize only on stage meetings… and the promises they throw away, I call them the ‘dais roars’) will device an executable action plan?
The right road leading to the eradication on hunger and poverty, or at least, alleviating the current situation, is in addressing the ever increasing economic disparity on a global scale. This is where the topic turns political. And if at all this is addressed properly then it will be ‘the game changer’.
[The economic disparity in India is reportedly said to have doubled in the past two decades. The inequality in earning among citizens has widened many time in the mean time.]
Hunger prevails not because of any other reason. The persistence of hunger is nothing but a standing example of human negligence (at every level – it isn’t fair to point the fingers on the policy makers alone.) Nothing else!