Books In Brief

Understanding Indian Crisis

I Satya Sundaram

PSundarayya was a distinguished and unique leader of the communist movement in India. As an intellectual, he could speak on any issue relating to Indian Polity, Economy and Society. The volume under review contains 19 Papers, dealing with issues like capitalist development, communalism, neo-liberalism, foreign capital, women and public policy, the agrarian crisis, class and caste and science and technology.

The relative roles of the State and the Market change over a period of time. This is not surprising. What is surprising is that India has not been able to select an appropriate system to revamp the economy. At one time, Market was glorified, later the State received top priority, and now the focus is on neo-liberalism. For one thing in the Indian context, Market has serious limitations.

The two staid blemishes of modern economic development in developing countries are: absence of any manpower planning to fully utilise the abundantly available labour force, and utilising the available funds in such a way that inequalities rise sharply. The result: India is not able to solve its basic problems --poverty, unemployment and inequality. In India, around 90 percent of the labour force is in the informal sector.

It has been rightly observed by Prabhat Patnaik: “Democracy must mean sovereignty of the people, their right to choose between alternative agendas”. (p, 17). Political parties in India forget their poll promises once they come to power. Even Panchayats are enfeebled. The democracy has been deliberately debilitated.

Women’s role has been margina-lised in most spheres. The unpaid work of rural women is rising. Poor rural women have to spend more time to collect minor forest resources like firewood because of Joint Forest Management (p, 151). There is child labour in domestic work, in both paid and unpaid forms (p, 160).

The tragedy is that most state governments are not able to maintain even the Public Distribution System (PDS) properly. The Direct Cash Transfers would do more harm than good (p, 172).

[The various papers included in the volume [India Today: Looking Back, Looking Forward (Sundaraya Birth Centenary Seminar Papers), Prajasakti Book House, Hyderabad-500020, Compiled by C samba Reddy & R Arun Kumar, Pp 286, Price: Rs 300} throw useful light on the socio-economic issues facing India.]

Facets of Food Science
It is said, right food nourishes, wrong food poisons. We have to take the right food in right amount and at the right time. We have been neglecting healthy food habits. Few are aware of the need for balanced food. Hence, incidence of malnutrition continues to be high. A good source of protein is often a combination of various foods (p, 38).

Water too plays an important role in ensuring healthy life. Yet, drinking water standards are not up to the mark. There is severe shortage of potable water. This leads to waterborne diseases, acute and chronic illness (p, 44). Around 97 per cent of water available on the Earth is salt water. Hence, importance is given to desalination. Most water, even from deep wells or springs, requires some type of treatment before use... . The extent of treatment depends on the source of water (p, 61).

Carbohydrates are a common source of energy. But, human beings are able to obtain most of their energy requirement from protein and fats. However, in the case of dietary fibre–indigestible carbohydrates which are not a source of energy–inadequate intake can lead to significant increase in mortality (p, 76). Of course, nutrient based dietary recommendations differ between countries and institutions (p, 133).

Food irradiation is the process of exposing food stuffs to a source of energy capable of stripping electrons from individual atoms in the targeted material (fonising). The radiation can be emitted by a radioactive substance or generated electrically. This treatment is used to preserve food, reduce the risk of food borne illness, prevent the spread of invasive pests, delay or eliminate sprouting or ripening, increase juice yield and improve rehydration (p, 134).

The street foods include fast food, snack food, burger, panipuri, pizza, ice-cream samosa, cup noodles and soup. According to a FAO Study (2007), 2.5 trillion people eat street food every day. These obnoxious foods are becoming more and more popular. They also increase weight.

Fasting too is important. It beats stress. Short-term fasting can correct energy imbalances, sleep disorders, depression, mood swings, nervousness and just about every other ailment or disorder.

The book Essential of Food Science by Laxmi Singh [published by Aprajita Publication, Allahabad, Pp 224, Price: Rs 675] throws useful light on how people have to manage their natural resources and food to lead a healthy life.

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Vol 55, No. 36, Mar 5 - 11, 2023