Sunday, 24 May 2009

Food for Thought

Whoever knows me will be aware of how much I enjoy dissecting various articles related to current affairs. In this post, I have chosen to focus on a number of points that have recently struck my attention.

According to an article published in the latest edition of The Economist, "India is a land of bright promise. It is also extremely poor. About 27m Indians will be born this year. Unless things improve, almost 2m of them will die before the next general election. Of the children who survive, more than 40% will be physically stunted by malnutrition. Most will enroll in a school, but they cannot count on their teachers showing up. After five years of classes, less than 60% will be able to read a short story and more than 60% will still be stumped by simple arithmetic" (p. 11). When reading such an article, many questions come to my mind: why is India often regarded as an economic giant that has benefited greatly from capitalism when faced with such shocking statistics? When reading about such poverty and misery, there is hardly any talk from several countries about the need for "regime change" or any discourse aimed at introducing different economic policies. There is talk of implementing numerous reforms, but the arguments are often very broad and fail to analyse several details.

In the same edition of The Economist, there was an article which praised the recent election of four women in the Kuwaiti Parliament. Although the article mentioned the fact that "Parties are officially outlawed in Kuwait, meaning that candidates run as independents" (p. 45), the tone did not appear to be as harsh as that often used when describing political events in countries such as Cuba and Venezuela. It might be interesting to note that whereas this magazine frequently talks about political prisoners in Cuba, this article did not really say much about the human rights situation in Kuwait. According to a website that I found whilst carrying out research for this post, I came across the following information: "There are scores of political prisoners in Kuwait, and prison conditions are often inhumane. There have been reports of torture and inhuman treatment of detainees, and some of those responsible have been prosecuted. Freedom of speech and the press is severely curtailed, and journalists have been sentenced to prison for criticizing the government or Islam. Most practice self-censorship. There is no freedom of assembly. The death penalty is applied."

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