News Wrap


Aproduction bonanza in sugar, spurred by the brief scare of a shortfall in 2016-17, and by high-yielding sugar cane varieties, has driven India's sugar output to record levels. This year it is expected to hit 33 million tons of crystalline sugar, compared with domestic demand of about 26 million tons. The cumulative build-up of sugar implies that the mills crushing fresh cut cane could be having stock piles of 14.5 million tons. The government's special perks to sugar cane farmers, forces mills to pay sky-high prices for sugar cane, and makes it hard for them to import it. Extra generous "state-advised prices", as in Uttar Pradesh, guarantees farmers a huge return on their basic costs and labour. Artifical pricing, makes the processing of sugar anywhere in India, more expensive than in any other big producing nations. Often the mills fail to pay their bills. In September 2019, some farmers in Uttar Pradesh, burnt their crops in protest the mill's arrears. The sugar industry is a colossal employer of poor people, particularly two politically weighty states, Uttar Pradesh and Maharasthra. The average farmer of sugar cane grows it on just 1 to 2 hectares, and so is protected from volatile world prices. Some 35 million to 50 million people are directly employed in sugar-cane production. 7.5% of the rural population depends upon the crop. Sugar barons often become politicians, and vice versa. World sugar prices are close to a ten-year low. Despite this India has sold over 3.4 million tons abroad, between April to October, 2019. This fell short of a target of 5 million tons. India is paying mills a bonus of Rs.10.5 (15 cents) per kilo exported, adding up to 63 billion rupees. India thus supports farmers to grow sugar and then subsidies its exports. There is no transparent framework yet, for using sugar cane to distill ethanol, an alternative fuel.

Poverty in Usa
The federal US government has spent trillions of dollars on the ongoing poverty, over the past 55 years. But they remain fixated on the largely the elderly and the working poor, leaving behind non-working adults and children. Then are 40 million poor Americans in 2017, or 12% of the population. This threshold is extremely low for a family of four, which amounts to $17.64 per person per day. About 18.5 million people have only half the amount, and are mired in deep poverty. There are nearly 13 million children today in USA, or 17.5 of all American children who experience poverty. When assessed on poverty relative to other countries, the share of families making less than 50% of the national median income after taxes and transfers, America is among the most -performing in the OECD club of mostly rich countries. On the relative -poverty scale, more than a fifth of American children remain poor after government benefits, compared with 3.6% of Finnish children.

Modern house holds now spend only one eighth of their incomes on food. Housing and child care, not food, are the biggest constraints on the household budgets of poor people. The majority of American renters who make less than $30,000 now spend more than half of their income on housing. Poverty in America is beginning to concentrate in the suburbs. Despite small suburban town, Harvey's proximity to large city Chicago, median household income is an abysmal $24,343. After mismanagement and missed bond payments, the suburban town's finances are in free fall. One in four flats now sits vacant. There is a drastic increase from the 22% poverty rate in 2000. Outer city poverty causes social dysfunctions like addiction, crime, infant mortality, joblessness, and mental illness. Across America, black people remain disproportionately poor. More than 20% live in poverty twice the rate of whites. Median black household wealth nationwide is one-tenth that of white households, just as it was 50 years ago. For low- skilled workers with few educational qualifications, even in current tight labour market conditions, chances for advancement are limited. Persistently poor places have weak private sectors that lack such jobs Hispanics and rural whites are left behind because the economy rewards high levels of education and clusters in cities.

Taiwan Resists China's President Xi Jinping
Chiang Kai-Shek, the authoritarian nationalist leader's offices after 1950, are now home to a democratically elected president of Taipei, who has no interest in unifying with China. Compared to the extravaganza across the Taiwan Strait marking the 70th anniversary on 01 Oct 2019, of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Taipei's "Double Ten" parade on 10 October, 2019 was a modest affair. Workers had built a viewing platform for the parade. Constructed for the Japanese colonial administration in the early 20th century, the imposing red and white offices with baroque and renaissance flourishes, contain in a single building the island's fraught legacy. Unlike Hong Kong, China has no sovereignty over Taiwan, and no day-to-day control. Taiwan has been separately governed since 1949. Both Hong and Taiwan, in different ways, are infused with a democratic spirit, and their citizens are increasingly strident in rejecting rule by an authoritarian Communist Party in Beijing. Young people in Hong Kong and Taiwan, identify themselves as Hong Kongers and Triwanese respectively, and are cold to Beijing's appeals that they should embrace the motherland. In Jan 2019, president Xi recommended the "one country, two systems" model in Hong Kong for Taiwan. This provoked a surge in support for Taiwan's then unpopular president, Tsai Ing-wen, who opposed unification. The protests that have gripped Hong Kong in recent months have entrenched support for Tsai in Taiwan, at the expense of candidates Beijing preferred. Island Taiwan is holding presidential elections in Jan 2020. Han Kuo-yu, the candidate for the Nationalist Party, which traditionally supports talking to Beijing was forced to disavow Xi's formula for Taiwan. Xi has unilaterally declared a new Chinese are defence zone near Japan and South Korea, and put Taiwan on Notice that its status as a self governing island would not last. China has built massive new islands in the South China Sea, and flexed its naval muscle, by challenging any foreign ships that sail nearby. Beijing is conducting multi front hybrid warfare against the Island Taiwan, buying off local clan and temple associations, tying to recruit en mass engineers who move its world beating seeming conductor firms. Media organsations are being taken over, to give them a pro-Beijing slant. Taiwa-sese leaders are cultivating support in USA and western democracies.

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Vol. 52, No. 23, Dec 8 - 14, 2019