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Sreedhar Rao

By Radha Sinha
Ambika Publications, New Delhi, 1976, 196, Price Not Stated

VOLUME II NUMBER 1 January-February 1977

Inadequate food production and the population explosion in developing count­ries were favourite themes for economists during the 1950s and 1960s. They have generally suggested that there is a need to modernize agriculture and increase food production, and take effective mea­sures to bring down the population growth. The 1970s brought into sharp focus the dependence of the West on the developing countries for raw materials, particularly oil. The emphasis shifted to interdependence of the West and deve­loping countries. Everybody seems to have also awakened to the reality that the fruits of economic development are not reaching the populace. This aware­ness has led to a process of rationaliza­tion by the authors of the development process. They attribute the entire phe­nomenon of maldistribution to the population explosion out-stripping the developmental process. So, growth rates, which were taken as indicators to judge the performance of the economy, were replaced by concepts like 'diffusion of poverty'. Radha Sinha's book Food and Poverty reflects the viewpoint of the school of ‘Interdependence’ scholars. His macro-­level study comes to the inevitable con­clusion that cooperation between the developing and developed economies can resolve the problem of hunger and malnutrition. If efforts are not initiated in this direction there will inevitably be a confrontation between the two economic groupings. To demonstrate the interde­pendence, he impressively marshalls facts and figures. On the whole the book is a useful contribution to the current litera­ture on the ‘New International Econo­mic Order’. But Dr. Sinha's belief that confronta­tion is possible on a global basis through a collective boycott by poorer countries of trade and aid from richer countries is rather naive. Probably his belief arises from the way OPEC was able to pressu­rize the developed countries. But two points have to be noted here. First, im­mediately after the 1973 oil crisis, OPEC started considering the other developing countries as liabilities rather than assets. Oil-producing countries have granted few concessions to the other developing coun­tries at the conference on International Economic Cooperation (North-South Dialogue) in Paris. Second, the unity of OPEC is coming under strain. The re­cent decision on differential crude prices by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates shows that OPEC's unity can no longer be taken for granted. No doubt, Dr. Sinha does warn that the developed economies have the capa­bility to manoeuvre and disrupt the unity between ...

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