New Delhi : India’s political parties Saturday joined ranks to slam US President George W. Bush’s remark that the burgeoning Indian middle class was contributing to the rising food prices the world over.
“His (Bush’s ) statement is aimed at serving his own constituency in the US ahead of the presidential elections, rather than having much significance for India,” said Prakash Javadekar, a spokesman for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata party (BJP).
“The population in India has not increased overnight, neither has the standard of living improved all of a sudden,” he said.
Taking the opportunity to hit out at the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, Javadekar said: “What is more relevant is that the UPA echoes the same (Bush’s) sentiments. (Civil Aviation Minister) Praful Patel has said that prices were rising because north Indians were eating more rice and south Indians were consuming more wheat. A government admits its guilt when it starts thinking that people having two square meals a day is causing price rise.
“There has been a failure in production, procurement and distribution of food grains.”
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Brinda Karat said: “What Bush has said is a reflection of an imperialist mentality of not feeding one’s own people and blaming the crisis on India. The US is diverting its own food grains for biofuels.”
However, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said: “There is no need to overreact. It is a neocolonial mindset which makes one react to everything that the US says. We are at the cusp of a second green revolution and within two years there would be a four percent increase in the contribution of agriculture to national GDP (gross domestic product).”
Bush Friday said: “The more prosperous the world is, the more opportunity there is. It, however, also increases demand.
“So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That’s bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population. And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food. And so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.”
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had also said last week that apparent improvement in the diets of people in China and India and resultant food grain export caps were some of the reasons for the skyrocketing prices of grain worldwide.