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India's grim crisis

Here are the BIG problems facing India today!
What CAUSED her present problems with illiteracy, poverty, overpopulation, famine?
How can this immensely wealthy nation overcome the problems which, for centuries, have shackled her teeming millions?


New Delhi, India

IN OUR previous article, we looked at India's "world image." We saw that the typical Westerner's idea of India is not an altogether accurate picture.

True, India has its poverty and hunger. But, let's not fail to see the other side of the picture!

India is a rich land — a land of fantastic natural wealth and almost unlimited resources. Her peoples are innately intelligent, comely, talented.

But, India's teeming millions are shackled by a high rate of illiteracy. The gross national product of India is much lower than it should be — due in great measure to the listlessness of an undernourished population.

How can India extricate herself from the age-old problems of the caste system, illiteracy, a runaway birth rate, poverty, fear and rank superstition? It will not be easy, but it can be done.

How can this vast, potentially great nation of nearly 500,000,000 people — the second most populous nation on earth — take its rightful place among the literate, progressive, prosperous nations of the earth? There is a way. There are solutions.

Of course, India is not alone in these problems. Many nations have poverty and hunger problems, for various reasons. The reasons must be recognized before the problems of any nation can be solved.


A Grim Warning

An eminent biologist at California's Stanford University has given the grim warning that hundreds of millions of people worldwide will literally STARVE to death between 1970 and 1985. That is, unless plagues, thermonuclear war or some other equally terrifying destructive agent kills them first! U.S., Canadian and Australian surpluses cannot cope with a food shortage of such magnitude.

Graphically outlining the hopelessness of the food problem for India, Professor Paul Erlich said: "In another 10 years it would take the entire grain production of the United States to save India from famine." Notice that all the U.S. grain would just barely save India. The U.S. couldn't spare that much.

A very grim picture, isn't it? The second most populous nation on earth drowning in its own rising tide of overpopulation!

We live in an age of gigantic problems which seemingly have no solutions! This perplexing problem of how to feed the skyrocketing population of the world is but one of the "insoluble’s" confronting today's world leaders.

Conflicting viewpoints and theories can be heard from many sources offering avenues of attack in dealing with the big problems of the world. But really workable solutions have not been found.

Will India have to be abandoned to mass starvation? What is going to happen? Thousands of our readers in India and Ceylon need to be told the truth about what is going to happen within the very next few years in India. There is a Source who reveals what will ultimately happen to India and to every major nation and people. That Source has been too long overlooked!

In the opening article in this series we described India's tremendous potential. We explained the great contrasts which impress the visitor in India. We outlined the vast resources in India and noticed that in spite of these she is a land of widespread hunger, disease and human agony!

WHY should this be so? Let's look at the real CAUSES of India's problems.


India's Government Considers Its Cattle

Government officials in India estimate that India has over one fourth of the world's cattle population. There are more cattle in India than in the United States. Cattle are one of India's greatest resources. Yet, this vast resource constitutes one of her major problems.

To be a profitable resource, both male and female cattle must be useful. The females in the production of calves and/or milk and other dairy products. Male cattle must produce meat and leather or serve as work animals. But, India's cattle are capable of giving her populace much more milk. Milk-yields from the cows and female water buffaloes can be doubled or even tripled by adequately feeding the milking stock.

But, herein lies the problem. Indian statistics report only half of India's cattle serve a useful purpose. The other half compete for the precious feed supply but add nothing to the national economy. There are just too many cattle for the available feed. The feed goes first to the male stock over the age of three years, which are the main beasts of burden. There is very little left for the poor milk cows. To an Indian, it is far more important to keep his work animals as strong as possible than to feed his cows to produce more milk.

What a tragedy! In a land where hunger and malnutrition-caused diseases are a "way of life!"

Contrary to the opinions of some, most of India's 30 or so breeds of cattle are of good quality and are potentially very productive. They are noted for hardiness, good cow sense, and gentle dispositions. When well fed, most compare favorably with Western beef breeds in both productivity and quality. As work animals, their bullocks are noted for willing, industrious work and a very rapid pace. Several breeds produce an abundance of rich milk, even by Western dairy standards. And a few Indian breeds are as adapted to producing both meat and milk as are the Red Poll and the Dexter.

But feed is a problem. Many Indian cattle, instead of grazing in a pasture, are kept tied to a post and are fed a daily portion of fodder that is cut out of the field by hand.

Now look at another and growing problem.


Irrigation Problems

An ancient but very widespread Indian practice is that of irrigating by treadmill or other hand means. Although many water pumps, wells and tube-wells have been installed across much of the farming community, a great amount of the area that is actually irrigated is still being watered by old-fashioned methods.

It is common to see bullocks harnessed to an ancient device drawing water for irrigation. Another common sight is that of men laboriously riding a long palm pole up and down over a well, struggling to raise enough water to keep their meager crops alive. Of course this type of irrigation can be used only on small plots.

Even more tragic than the use of the outdated and ineffective methods is the fact that many farmers who could vastly improve yields resolutely refuse to irrigate their farms, even when the Indian Government offers them free water.

In her well-presented and documented book, Blossoms in the Dust, Indian authoress, Kusum Nair, quotes an official of one of India's major irrigation and hydro-electric schemes (the Tungabhadra Project). He said: "We carry manures and improved seeds in a trailer and offer to deliver them right at the doorstep to induce these cultivators to use them. We offer them loans to buy the seeds and manures. We go to their fields and offer to let in the water for them. We request them to try it out first in two acres only if they are not convinced. They could quadruple their yields if they would only take our advice and at least experiment. Still they are not coming forward." This water was offered to the farmers free for the first three years.

And why wouldn't these farmers accept this free service? Simply because it wasn't the custom to do so. Their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers before them had farmed the land and had not used irrigation water, so why should they? Kusum Nair said in the introduction of her book, "But people do not always believe what they should believe or are expected to believe. Their beliefs are often obsolete — the products of dogma and tradition, the reasons for which have long ceased to exist. It is easier to build a million-ton steel plant — with borrowed money and hired know-how, if necessary — than to change a man's outlook on such matters as the use of irrigation water, fertilizer or contraceptives."

It is this illogical pursuit of dogma and tradition by the masses that holds to a minimum any real development in agricultural or industrial production.

Proper education — and that does not mean decadent Western education — would help solve the agricultural problems. Both adult education for all and a more widespread and thorough education of children. That would be a major step in the right direction toward finding some solutions, but only if properly used.


Education — Often a Hindrance

Education alone is not an infallible instrument. Without a corresponding change in the social attitudes connected with education, schooling beyond the third or fourth primary class is often a hindrance.

Listen to this startling statement by Kusum Nair: "They told me in the village of Gopalpura: 'We never send a boy meant for agriculture to school beyond the primary stage. Farming means hard work. Those who get educated will not do it. No student of the Vidyapeeth will go back to work in the fields. Even if a boy becomes a graduate in agriculture, he is useless for work.' " Students who attend agricultural schools and colleges are only trained for government service and not to become more qualified, skilled farmers.

That of course seems strange to educated Western farmers who enjoy working in their fields. How different in India. A young Indian who leaves the farm to go to school, often will not return and add his knowledge to the farming community after completing his education. What is the obvious result? The farmers in India are generally uneducated.

This deep-rooted attitude is dealing a devastating blow to India at a time when she needs to have the most competent farmers possible, making the greatest use of her land resources to feed her bulging population. This same attitude is also creating another problem of major proportions for the Indian Government — unemployment!

Peasant farmers' educated sons who have left the land did not do so because of readily available jobs. They do not have promise of jobs which are "dignified" and suitable to their new status. On the contrary, reliable reports reveal that the greatest area of unemployment throughout India is among the educated. Tragically, education is looked upon as a means of escaping from farming and other physical work rather than an avenue to agricultural improvement.

McNair — Ambassador College

Many of India's larger farms use modern machinery, which increases the production capacity of the individual but does not increase the production per acre. There are more than enough men and bullocks to work every acre of India's available land. The problem India's government faces is to persuade her teeming farming millions to use better irrigation and cropping methods and better varieties of seeds.