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The Battle Against Poverty in the World

The story of Ammajan Amina gives insight into various disturbing situations in contradiction with the utilitarian point of view. Amina had gone through intense suffering in poverty and lack of food. She was a mother of six children whom she could not feed (Yunus 81). Of the six children, four had succumbed to hunger; a very devastating encounter. From a utilitarian point of view, we would expect that such a big number of children should not have been allowed to die of hunger. There would have been some measures to protect the precious lives. However, nothing was done. In any case, she was even hated by her in-laws who wanted her to move away from the only asset she owned- her mud tin roofed house.

The death of Amina’s husband was the greatest blow in her life. Surprisingly, the ailing husband had exhausted everything they had in search for cure. After his death, poor Amina descended into utter poverty. While it was right to seek a cure for the husband, it should have been done at the expense of the children and Amina. Something ought to have been left for them just in case the husband died. However, everything was used up and Amina became a beggar. Another disturbing thing about Amina’s story is the fact that no moneylender was willing to give her money (Yunus 82). It was as if they all wanted her and her two remaining children dead. Finally, when the brother in-law sold her tin roof, Amina was completely wretched. Her fifth child died when the monsoon blew up the mud walls of the roofless house.  

Lester Brown (2004) gives several bleak pictures about the situation of future food security in the world. For instance, he states that by the year 2050, the world will receive an additional three billion people to the already existing six billion. However, the question as to whether the additional population will be fed remains elusive. From facts and figures collected today, about 74 million people are being added each year to the world population. The fear about this addition is the fact that the world is experiencing a scarcity in cropland as well as shortages of water. Tragically, it is expected that a big number of the three people billion to be added will be in countries which have problems with water shortages and drying wells.

Secondly, Brown gives a bleak picture of future grain production levels in the world. He states that the current trends in environmental pressure need to be rectified now before trouble strikes. With about half of the world population living in countries with water shortage problems, there is definitely a looming trouble (Lester 1). In fact, research has showed that with every 1˚ C rise in temperature above the requirement, there is a 10% decrease in grain production. The world grain production is falling due to decline in water tables as well as the increasing temperatures. Thus food insecurity is inevitable with the rising population. Brown says that solving the problem is difficult. Though he offers that if slight increases say 2% in one area, 4% in another and some more percentages in other regions can help remedy the situation. Nevertheless, he says that it is not a possibility that grain production will ever double as biological limit has already been reached.

In India, there has been a surging price in food grain. Farmers in India no longer experience the bump harvest they used to a decade ago (Bhattacharya 1). According to Abhijit Sen, an economist and member of planning commission, grain levels in 2004-05 dropped drastically to 1970s levels. In 1979, availability of cereals was at 476.9 grams per day and by 2006, it stood at 444.5. Similarly, 2005 experienced much lower level of 422 grams per day. The shocking news is that net per capita grain availability today is half what it was in the past five decades- in 2006 at 32.5 grams daily and 60.7 grams daily in 1951. India has been experiencing no growth in grain production while population has been growing massively. Thus the food insecurity has been increasing with each passing day.

Works cited

Bhattacharya, Amit. “India Headed for Food Shortages.” The Times of India. TNN, Mar 31, 2008.

Gasper, David. The ethics of development: from economism to human development. Midlothian, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.

Lester, Brown. “Voices of Concern.”  NOVA: World in the Balance. April 2004. Retrieved on Wednesday, November 03, 2010 from 

Yunus, Mohammad & Jolis, Alan. Banker to the poor: the autobiography of Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank. Northamptonshire, UK: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Yunus, Muhammad. Founder of the Grameen Bank: Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

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