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<nettime> Bengal Famine
Naeem Mohaiemen on Mon, 5 May 2008 17:01:04 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Bengal Famine


Thanks Patrice for bringing up the Bengal Famine. Amartya Sen
famously argued in his study that famines do not occur in functional
democracies with free press and democratic institutions.

As Bangladesh debates "hidden hunger" (new euphemism for near-famine)
or "monga" (a new Bengali phrase for near-famine), we look at the
Military-backed Caretaker Government and wonder if Sen's prediction
will prove correct again. Will a military junta fail to acknowledge
the crisis in time.

The Economist analyzes how the food crisis has queered the pitch for
the military's plans:

http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11058143

Then again, the counter to Sen's democracy=food formulation can be the
biggest famine in Bengal since 1943, which was under the democratic
government of Sheikh Mujib. But there too, there are other obfuscating
factors. Christopher Hitchens argued in THE TRIAL OF HENRY KISSINGER
that HK should be on genocide trial for blocking US grain shipments to
Bangladesh. Alexander Cockburn made a similar argument in CORRUPTIONS
OF EMPIRE.

Meanwhile the food lines are endless, everywhere in this city.

>  Message: 1
>  Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 18:13:45 +0200 (CEST)
>  From: "Patrice Riemens" <patrice {AT} xs4all.nl>
>  Subject: Re: <nettime> Making a Killing from Hunger

>  The current food squeeze looks like, and has indeed all the
>  frightening potential to become, a remake of the Great Bengal Famine
>  of 1943. In this largely unknown biggest tragedy of WWII, where
>  almost as many people perished as in the Nazi death camps, the
>  shortfall of grain avaibility as opposed to demand was less than
>  1,5%, yet prices, fed by speculation and hoarding trebled, before
>  spiralling out of control (and like one century earlier in Ireland,
>  the British overlords did nothing to alleviate the situation, or
>  rather the contrary. Blame my Gallic temper for seeing some kind
>  of 'perfide Albion' consistent characteristic here - continued in
>  our times, globaly ruled by a TINA Anglo-Saxon logic). And pace the
>  incompressible intellectual avantgardists in our midst, the starving
>  will _not_ revolt, simply because starving people are simply too weak
>  to revolt (another lesson of the Great Bengal Famine and many other
>  places).





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