An end to post-imperialism

An end to post-imperialism

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have recently decided to accord higher voting percentages to India and China. The increased share, though small for India, is considerable for China. This reflects a new geopolitical reality in multilateral institutions that have belatedly realized the importance of these two countries in the comity of nations. Even though the US holds virtual veto power over the financing of projects with a 15% vote share pattern, global realities have changed dramatically. India and China are the engines that have not only defied the downturn, but have in fact rescued the world, in many ways, from a complete meltdown. The vote share change is a step in the right direction to reflect 21st century realities.

— Karan Thakur

Dipa Sinha in her article “Show me food, not money" (Mint, 27 April) has pointed out the defects in providing food security to persons living below the poverty line and just above it.

Her criticism that the poverty line is itself defective is praiseworthy. She has rightly pointed out that food coupons and cash transfers to the poor, proposed by many economists, are also full of defects. She has also mentioned that the cost of transportation and rent payable to godown owners increase the cost of foodgrain.

According to her, the public distribution system (PDS) suffers from inefficiency and leakages. In the end, she wants reforms in the system that includes (i) transparency; (ii) accountability; (iii) elimination of private dealers and; (iv) use of technology to provide food to the poor.

The defects and points given in the article are well known, but what people want is a “solution". Why do we expect that a solution will be made available only by the government or by the Supreme Court? The finance minister has in his Budget speech spoken of difficulties in providing food security. The Supreme Court has also observed that there is need for a workable solution. The time has come for intellectuals, activists, scholars, professors, students to find a solution as to how to provide food to everyone in the country. They should not always look to the government and the Supreme Court for a solution.

— S.C. Aggarwal

This refers to your editorial “The mounting waste problem" (Mint, 22 April). The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s expectation that scrap imported into the country be checked at the port of entry is impractical, as customs inspectors, even when they are equipped for such detection, may let hazardous material slip through, thanks to corruption.

Richard Girling in his book Rubbish has pointed out that dangerous nuclear waste is smuggled in by customs inspectors and that Western countries use China, India and Pakistan to dump their hazardous waste. He also points out that there are unscrupulous operatives in the waste industry. Components of old computers and other electronic waste are shipped to China, Pakistan and India, where they are “recycled" by workers in conditions that would have appalled even a Victorian gangmaster. Added to this is the harm caused by local industry and hospitals in collusion with municipal and health officials.

Alongside tightening local regulatory measures, there is need for our government to take up the issue at the United Nations jointly with China and Pakistan. Nations cannot continue to use others for dumping their hazardous waste.

Until all these are done and world opinion is mobilized for suitable open action against erring nations, what you mention in the penultimate paragraph of your edit will happen: Next time, instead of the Capital of our country, where hazardous radioactive scrap was found recently, the scenario may be one of our rural areas, and the rest of us would come to know of it only after a sizeable number of people got affected, fell ill and died.

— S. Subramanyan