India reacts sharply to US charge of spurring food crisis


New Delhi : The Indian government Sunday reacted sharply to US President George W Bush’s contention that growing demand for foodgrains in India was the reason for spiralling global food prices.

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Defence Minister A K Antony termed it as a “cruel joke”. “Instead, the policies of US were responsible for the foodgrain shortage”,he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.

Speaking in Missouri, Bush said there were 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,” he said.

Earlier, his Secretary of State Condolezza Rice also made similar assumptions about how increase in demand in China and India was fuelling the global food shortage.

The issue is expected to come up in parliament Monday.

The CII, India’s premier business chamber, has meanwhile called for cut in food wastage and immediate global response to address the issue.

“We need to build a global platform for dialogue and action to manage the crisis,” the CIIs’ new director general Chandrajit Banerjee said in a statement.

He said the issue regarding food price has to be seen in a global perspective. The CII is setting-up a Task Force to look into the issue.

“It has not just to be seen as an issue originating from a particular country. There is a need for greater flow of global information on food production and consumption and cuts in food wastage,” the CII observed.

The CII feels current food crisis is a creation of multiple of factors.

“The crisis include change in weather pattern resulting to drought and diversion of food to biofuels besides other factors,” said the CII.

It suggested that the global food management system can be developed under the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

It may be mentioned that rise in food items and some metal products had resulted in inflation touching a new high at 7.57 percent, last month.