Many Indians felt that the remarks of President George W. Bush on May 2 were more of the same, though this time they seemed to breed a widespread sense of "We're not going to take this anymore." During a news conference in Missouri, Bush mentioned India's growing middle class, and said "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." This came on the heels of a similar statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that had already upset many in India.
Americans eat an average of 3,770 calories per capita a day, the highest amount in the world, according to data from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, compared to 2,440 calories in India. They are also the largest per capita consumers in any major economy of beef, the most energy-intensive common food source, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The United States and Canada top the world in oil consumption per person, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
"George Bush has never been known for his knowledge of economics," Jairam Ramesh, the minister of state for commerce, told The Press Trust of India after Bush's remarks, which he said proved again how "comprehensively wrong" Bush is.
"To say that demand for food in India is causing increase in global food prices is completely wrong," Ramesh said.
Politicians and academics in India cite various other reasons: diversion of arable land in the United States and Europe into ethanol production; trade subsidies by the United States and Europe; and the dollar's decline.
Subsidies to Western farmers have undercut agricultural production in fertile areas of Africa for decades, Kamal Nath, India's minister for commerce and industry, said by telephone. Meanwhile, he added, Americans waste more food than people in many other countries, in part because they buy in such large quantities...
Bush's "ignorance on most matters is widely known and openly acknowledged by his own countrymen," The Asian Age argued May 5 in an editorial, but he must not be allowed to "get away" with an attempt to "divert global attention from the truth by passing the buck on to India."