Wednesday, 20 June 2012


The Chosun Ilbo


The Chosun Ilbo, June 20, 2010

Accounts from defectors that thousands of people are starving to death in North Korea's rice bowl of South Hwanghae Province brings to mind a theory formulated by Indian economist Amartya Sen, who won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics. Sen said mass starvation in a particular region is more closely related to whether the area is ruled by a democratic or autocratic system than whether there is a real shortage of food.

He researched cases of famine in India and Africa and found that there were no instances of mass starvation in democratic nations even during hard times.

Sen explained that in autocratic regimes, distribution of state budgets is not prioritized according to the needs of the people but channeled into wasteful and exorbitant projects designed to extend the rule of a dictator. As a result, even a slight shortage of food leads to mass starvation and deaths.

He cited as a key example the mass starvation in North Korea during the 1990s, and points out that democratization is more effective in preventing mass starvation than boosting food output. Millions starved to death in India's Bengal region under British rule, but such tragedies disappeared after Indian independence.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme projected that North Korea's 2011 crop output would rise 8.5 percent on-year to 5.5 million tons. Bean output rose 10 percent, corn 11 percent and rice 2 percent, so it is illogical to see people starve to death in the country's rice bowl.

(...) [artículo aquí]

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