Connect with us

South Asia

Human and food security in South Asia

Published

on

Authors: Areeja Syed and Fatima Ahmed

This world in which we are living is a very insecure and prone place where problems like   poverty, crisis, conflicts, negative peace, natural disasters, economic instability, violence, health problems, environmental issues and deficient food have surrounded a human from all sides. Human is insecure in the presence of these problems and this is what we call human insecurity. (GASPER n.d).There are many challenges to overcome human insecurity like to give environmental security, food, health, psychological security and many more to humans. In this article we will particularly talk about food security which is one of the most prominent challenges to human security in the contemporary world.

Food Security

In 1974,World Food Conference was held which defined food security with regard to guarantee stable supply and price constancy of basic foodstuffs at the system and state level.  The form in which all the people of the world have access to food, whether it is economic, social, physical, but everyone should have access to food to have a healthy and active and nutritious lifeIn 1983, The analysis of FAO mainly focused on food access and they also emphasized on the economic access, stability and the demand-supply aspect. (Food and agriculture organization of the united nations. 1996).

Food security comprises of four main components in which the first is the availability of food, it means whether everyone is getting enough and sufficient food according to their need. Second the accessibility of food which focuses on the income and sources of an individual that whether they are having ample and enough income, to buy food for them and their family. Although it’s primary concern is income but it also analyses gender, literacy and employment status. It also highlights that despite accessibility to food, people are unable to access quality food which results in malnutrition e.g. Indian Famine in West Bengal in 1943. In the case of South Asia, despite having access to food, there is less improvement in malnutrition.

Third aspect of food security is the constancy of food, which implies people should have stable, constant and permanent access to food all the time without having any risk or fear of losing economic or physical accessibility in various conditions like natural disasters, wars, economic deprivation. Especially when the global prices of food fluctuates, the South Asian governments finds it a challenge to ensure food security for its people. For this purpose they provide different types of incentives to farmers to maintain balance between demand and supply (Amjad,2010).Fourth aspect is the nutritious and biological aspect of food which implies that individuals are getting healthy and clean eatery and water which will ensure healthy and active lifestyles of the people.

Reason of Food insecurity in south Asia

1.SAARC countries population growth:

The population of SAARC countries is 22 percent of total population of the world with India alone contributing about 1.17 billion people (over 17 %) to it. The shares of Pakistan and Bangladesh in world’s population stand at 2.5 and 2.4 percent respectively. The population growth rate has slowed down overtime in almost all the countries with Sri Lanka attaining a population growth rate of 1.3. Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan also have moved in that direction, though Pakistan still has a high rate of population growth.

2. Urbanization/Migration from rural to Urban Areas:

   The urban poor are generally more vulnerable to food insecurity resulting from shocks like high inflation. Despite high population growth in rural areas the reduction in the percentage of rural population in almost all the countries (except Sri Lanka during the period 1991-2006) points to an accelerated migration from rural to urban areas. This migration results from both pull and push factors working simultaneously. Cities offer higher wage and better employment opportunities as well as greater availability of services like heath care and education. The push factors that force migrants to leave rural areas include factors like displacement by conflict, disasters, droughts,landlessness, land degradation, and population pressures on land. The growth of cities on one hand inflates the population of net food buyers and on the other hand reduces arable land by converting productive agricultural land and water resources to residential and industrial uses. Thus, the process of urbanization is a potential threat to food security in the region.

Climate change:

Agricultural production in South Asia is also prone to high risks resulting from high variations in weather. The future projections of climate change indicates that South Asia is very likely to be affected by warming during this century. The availability of freshwater is projected to decrease and coastal areas will be at greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea and rivers. It is predicted that a rise in temperature may reduce yields of rice, wheat, other cereals, and certain cash significantly. Various sub-sectors of agriculture bear the effect and contribute to global climate change. Any neglect or failure on part of the countries of the region to develop and adopt technologies for climate change mitigation and adaptation of agriculture to sustainable resource use and environment friendly improved practices may lead to severe food insecurity in the region.(Amjad,2010)

A Way Forward

 Nearly 40 percent of the world’s hungry lives in South Asia, even before the food price crisis of 2008. Hunger silently stalks the entire region, from the steep mountain slopes of Nepal to the dry, arid plains of southern Afghanistan. (Farooq 2016)Although large scale famines have largely been kept at bay, millions of poor people in Bangladesh, unable to afford two meals a day are left literally clutching at straws. On the other hand, a declining trend in per capita food production and supply is observed in most of the South Asian Countries except India and Pakistan. In this context, the achievement of food security in the region can be facilitated by the members of SAARC. They should extend its cooperation in food production within the member states and should work towards some regional cooperation

1. Regional Trade: There is a need to have regional trade, countries under one region need to import and export, which is beneficial for every state within the region.

2. Cooperation in technologies :technology sharing network for these crops can bring a considerable boost in production of these valuable food grains for attaining and sustaining broader food security in the region. (Pakistan Today 2018)

3. Revisiting SAARC Food Banking Mechanism: The idea of establishing SAARC Food Reserve was floated in 1988, the prime underlying aim was to provide regional support to national food security efforts and solve regional food shortages through collective actions but it is not operationalized yet so there is a need for practical implementation as well

4. Coping Strategies for Disasters: Given that natural disasters do not always care for national boundaries. Cross-boundary issues of disaster management should be addressed through enhanced regional cooperation. (Farooq 2016)

It is now the need of the hour that there should be some regional co-operation in order to eradicate the food insecurity specially by structuralism and by the practical implementation of the above suggestions, there is a need to eradicate all the hatred between the states like India and Pakistan and they must focus on human security. It is the responsibility of the states to give security to their people. The states should place human security at the centre of national policy making. Regional cooperation can assist the states to extend and promote human security to other countries as well.

Author is pursuing MPhil in International Relations from COMSATS University Islamabad. Her area of research focuses on International Security, Strategic issues and Public Diplomacy.

Continue Reading
Comments

South Asia

Afghanistan and the Quest for Democracy Promotion: Symptoms of Post-Cold War Malaise

Published

on

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan should be the first step in a reduced American overseas force posture. Democracy promotion in the form of perpetual force deployment and endless military engagements has resoundingly failed to deliver tangible benefits for the United States. Those who celebrated in the wake of the USSR’s collapse as an unqualified vindication of liberal democracy ignored the role of strategic overextension and deteriorating domestic affairs in the latter. The unipolar U.S. moment was bound to be ephemeral, and should have been used to reevaluate and refocus strategic goals in order to ensure we avoid the same fate of our ideological counterpart.

Instead, the United States dispensed with any notions of humility and allowed democratic peace theory to continue guiding its foreign policy decision-making. Even though it is true that democracies are less likely to engage in military confrontations with one another, only hubris could have led us to believe we could universally create this sufficient condition. Afghanistan is a definitive rebuke to the notion that we can simply will the circumstances for democratic peace—on our own terms and with no compromise—into existence.

Luckily, there is still time to readjust the country’s strategic calculus and begin allocating its limited resources in a less myopic manner. Following through with withdrawal could be a starting point for a new trend of U.S. restraint. The most logical region of the world to address next would be its position in Europe. Relative European weakness at the end of World War 2 threatened the balance of power on the continent as the specter of Soviet Communism crept its way West. With Russia a shell of the Marxist empire, there is no logical reason for the United States to maintain its current outsized military presence in Europe; indeed, the EU collectively holds a GDP 11 times the size of Russia’s, has 3 ½ times the population size, and spends 4 times as much on defense.

The United States should demand that European allies adopt a share of their own defense that is more commensurate with this fact. The decision of the previous U.S. administration to remove 12,000 troops due to Germany’s inability to meet NATO spending targets was a good step. The current administration could continue to capitalize on this trend and set more targets for troop withdrawals. Withdrawal will also signal to countries that use political tension with Moscow to decrease their saber rattling. This includes Eastern European NATO members, as well as countries like Ukraine and Georgia. It must be made explicit to the latter two that they cannot engage in bellicose political brinkmanship, and then hope to simply rely on U.S. led NATO to come to their defense should the situation escalate. It may seem counterintuitive, but this may very well result in a more stable European security environment, at least in regard to its posture towards Russia.

This will also reverberate back into the European political arena, as there will be less incentive for inflating the Russian threat. Moscow acts strategically in accordance with its limited national security interests, anticipating Western responses and reactions. Clear signaling that the United States and NATO do not have the goal of encircling Russia and rendering it strategically inert will only serve to increase U.S.-Russian relations, as well as European-Russian relations. This will free up U.S. resources for more pressing national security interests such as preparing for strategic and economic competition with China. It will also decrease the incentive for closer Russian-Sino cooperation.

Ideally, this would cascade into a reevaluation of U.S. strategic postures in other regions as well, such as Southeastern Asia and the broader Middle East. The former is another area in which the United States could reduce its force presence and incentivize increased defense spending by allies. A decreased U.S. presence would also message to China that the United States does not inherently oppose Beijing as a threat. It should, however, be made explicit that aggression towards a U.S. treaty ally would be met with an asymmetric response, but that does not mean that increased tensions with China need to be the status quo. In the Middle East, large scale U.S. military withdrawal in exchange for a primarily diplomatic mission to the region could also serve to decrease one of the major sources of terrorist recruitment.

An interventionist foreign policy was perpetuated as the product of learning the wrong lessons from U.S. victory in the Cold War. A communist doctrine of proselytizing to the alienated masses with axiomatic dogmas and theological certainties failed not because of the weakness of its scripture (which would require a much different, longer article), but because its millenarian quest for world revolution led the Soviet empire to overextend itself beyond its economic means. Behind the façade of military might, the domestic population grew increasingly disillusioned and dissatisfied. Unfortunately, there are alarming parallels with the current domestic situation in the United States today.

Refusing to remain mired in Afghanistan could be an important catalyst in beginning to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy. If Washington focuses its resources on limited goals that prioritize key national security interests, it can better tend to the state of its own republican government and society. It might not be as romantic as crusading for democracy, but it could be essential in preserving the Union.

Continue Reading

South Asia

What, in fact, is India’s stand on Kashmir?

Published

on

Women walking past Indian security forces in Srinagar, summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Nimisha Jaiswal/IRIN

At the UNGA, India’s first secretary Sneha Dubey said the entire Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh “were, are and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. She added, “Pakistan’s attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue have gained no traction from the international community and the Member States, who maintain that Kashmir is a bilateral matter between the two countries (Pakistan is ‘arsonist’ disguising itself as ‘fire-fighter’: India at UNGA, the Hindu September 25, 2021).

It is difficult to make head or tail of India’s stand on Kashmir. India considers the whole of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part. Yet, at the same time, admits it to be a bilateral matter still to be resolved between India and Pakistan.

What bars Pakistan from agitating the Kashmir dispute at international forums?

India presumes that the Simla accord debars Pakistan from “internationalizing” the Kashmir dispute. That’s not so. Avtar Singh Bhasin (India and Pakistan: Neighbours at Odd) is of the view that though Pakistan lost the war in East Pakistan, it won at Simla.

Bhasin says, `At the end, Bhutto the “dramatist” carried the day at Simla. The Agreement signed in Simla did no more than call for `respecting the Line of Control emerging from the ceasefire of 17 December 1971. As the Foreign Secretary TN Kaul [of India] said at briefing of the heads of foreign mission in New Delhi on 4 July 1972, the recognition of the new ceasefire line ended the United Nations’ Military Observers’ Group on India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) role in Kashmir, created specifically  for the supervision of the UN sponsored ceasefire line of 1949, since that line existed no more. Having said that India once again faltered for not asking the UN to withdraw its team from Kashmir, or withdrawing its own recognition to it and its privileges (Document No. 0712 in Bhasin’s India-Pakistan Relations 1947-207).

Following Simla Accord (1972), India, in frustration, stopped reporting ceasefire skirmishes to the UN. But, Pakistan has been consistently reporting all such violations to the UN. India feigns it does not recognise the UNMOGIP. But, then it provides logistic support to the UMOGIP on its side of the LOC.

India keeps harassing the UNMOGIP vehicles occasionally. Not long ago, three members of the UNMOGIP had a close call along the LoC in Azad Jammu and Kashmir after Indian troops shot at and injured two locals who were briefing them on the situation after ceasefire violations.

India even asked UNMOGIP to vacate 1/AB, Purina Lila Road, Connaught Place, from where it has been functioning since 1949.

Bhasin says (p.257-259), `The Pakistan Radio broadcasts and…commentators took special pains to highlight …the fact: (i) That India have accepted Kashmir to be a disputed territory and Pakistan a party to the dispute. (ii) That the UNSC resolutions had not been nullified and contrarily (iii) Kashmir remained the core issue between the two countries and that there could not be permanent peace without a just solution based on the principle of self-determination for the people of Kashmir. And Pakistan was right in its assessment. It lost the war won the peace. At the end India was left askance at its own wisdom’.

Obviously, if the UNSC resolutions are intact, then Pakistan has the right to raise the Kashmir dispute at international forums.

India’s shifting stands on Kashmir

At heart, the wily Jawaharlal Lal Nehru never cared a fig for the disputed state’s constituent assembly, Indian parliament or the UN. This truth is interspersed in Avtar Singh Basin’s 10-volume documentary study (2012) of India-Pakistan Relations 1947-2007.  It contains 3649 official documents, accessed from archives of India’s external-affairs ministry.  These papers gave new perspectives on Nehru’s vacillating state of perfidious mind concerning the Kashmir dispute. In his 2018 book (published after six years of his earlier work), India, Pakistan: Neighbours at Odds (Bloomsbury India, New Delhi, 2018), Bhasin discusses Nehru’s perfidy on Kashmir in Chapter 5 titled Kashmir, India’s Constitution and Nehru’s Vacillation (pages 51-64). The book is based on Selected Works of Jawaharlal (SWJ) Nehru and author’s own compendium of documents on India-Pak relations. Let us lay bare a few of Nehru’s somersaults

Nehru disowns Kashmir assembly’s “accession”, owns Security Council resolutions

Initially, Nehru banked on so-called Instrument of Accession and its authentication by `Constituent Assembly. Yet, in a volte-face he reiterated in New Delhi on November3, 1951 that `we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar] as we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council, or the United Nations’(SWJ: Volume 4: page 292, Bhasin p.228). Again, at a press conference on June 11, 1951, he was asked `if the proposed constituent assembly of Kashmir “decides in favour of acceding to Pakistan, what will be the position?”’ he reiterated,  `We have made it perfectly clear that the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir was not meant to decide finally any such question , and it is not in the way of any decision which may ultimate flow from the Security Council proceedings’ (SWJ: Volume 15:, Part II, page 394. Bhasin page 56). He re-emphasised his view once again at a press conference in New Delhi On November 3, 1951.

Nehru does not label Pakistan an aggressor at the UN

And then labels it so in Parliament

He never labeled Pakistan an aggressor at the UN. Yet, he told parliament on March 1, 1954 `that “aggression” took place in Kashmir six and a half years ago with dire consequences. Nevertheless the United States have thus far not condemned it and we are asked not to press this point in the interest of peace (Bhasin pp. 55-56).

Nehru disowns the Security Council as just a non-binding mediator

On July 24 1952, Nehru said, `Unless the Security Council functioned under some other Sections of the Charter, it cannot take a decision which is binding upon us unless we agree to it. They are functioning as mediators and a mediator means getting people to agree (SWJ, Volume 19, page 241. Bhasin page 56).

Security Council re-owned

Bhasin points out (page 57 op. cit.) `At the same press conference on 24 July, 1952 when asked what the necessity of plebiscite was now that he had got the Constituent Assembly [approval], he replied “Maybe theoretically you may be right. But we have given them [UN] an assurance and we stand by it (SWJ: Volume 19, pp. 240-241. Bhasin, p. 57, Bhasin pages 256-257).

Concluding remarks

Pakistan’s recourse to the UN is India’s Achilles Heel. So it is as India’s stand on disputed Kashmir is a rigmarole of inconsistent myths.

To avoid internationalization of the Kashmir issue, India’s own former foreign secretary Jagat Singh Mehta offered proposals (rebranded by Pervez Musharraf’s) to soften the LOC in exchange for non-internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute for 10 years. Mehta presented his ideas in an article, ‘Resolving Kashmir in the International Context of the 1990s’.

India had no consistent stand on Kashmir. There was a time when Sardar Patel presented Kashmir to Pakistan in exchange for Hyderabad and Junagadh. Reportedly, the offer was declined as Pakistan’s prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan thought it could retain not only Kashmir but also Junagadh and Hyderabad. Jawaharlal Nehru approached the United Nations’ for mediation. He kept harping his commitment to the plebiscite.

It is eerie that the whole architecture of India’s stand on Kashmir is erected on the mythical `instrument of accession’ and its endorsement by the disputed state’s assembly, Accession documents are un-registered with the UN. The Simla Accord text makes crystal clear reference to the UN charter.

Let India know that a state that flouts international treaties is a rogue state: pacta sunt servanda, treaties are to be observed and are binding on parties. Self-determination is not only a political but also a legal right in disputed lands. Sans talks with Pakistan, and UN or third-party mediation, what else is India’s recipe for imprisoned Kashmiris? A nuclear Armageddon or divine intervention?

Continue Reading

South Asia

Afghanistan may face famine because of anti-Taliban sanctions

Published

on

Food and blankets are handed out to people in need in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, by © WFP/Arete

Afghanistan may face a food crisis under the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) rule because this movement is under sanctions of both individual states and the United Nations, Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, told TASS on Monday.

“A food crisis and famine in Afghanistan are not ruled out. Indeed, Afghanistan is now on life support, with assistance mostly coming from international development institutes, as well as from the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, i.e. from Western sources and institutes close to the West,” he said. “The Taliban is under international sanctions, not only unilateral US and EU sanctions, but also under UN sanctions. That is why, in formal terms, the Taliban coming to power may mean that these sanctions could be expanded to the entire country, and it will entail serious food problems. Food deliveries from the World Food Program and other international organizations may be at risk.”

According to the expert, statistics from recent years show that annual assistance to Afghanistan amounts to about five billion US dollars, but this sum is not enough to satisfy the needs of the country’s population. “It is believed that a minimal sum needed by Afghanistan to maintain basic social institutions to avoid hunger in certain regions stands at one billion US dollars a month, i.e. 12 billion a year,” Kortunov noted. “Some say that twice as much is needed, taking into account that population growth in Afghanistan is among the world’s highest and life expectancy is among the lowest. And around half of Afghan children under five are undernourished.”

He noted that despite the fact that the issue of further food supplies to Afghanistan is not settled, some countries, for instance, China, continue to help Afghanistan but a consolidated position of the international community is needed to prevent a food and humanitarian crisis. “A common position of the international community is needed and it should be committed to paper in corresponding resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, which should provide for reservations concerning food assistance in any case,” he added.

However, in his words, the key question is who will control the distribution of humanitarian and food assistance inside the country. “There were such precedents when countries and regimes under sanctions were granted reservations and received food assistance. But a logical question arises about who will control the distribution of this assistance. This has always been a stumbling block for programs of assistance to Syria, as the West claimed that if everything is left to Damascus’ discretion, assistance will be distributed in the interests of [President Bashar] Assad and his inner circle rather than in the interests of the Syrian people. It is not ruled out that the same position will be taken in respect of the Taliban,” Kortunov went on to say. “It means that the international community will be ready to provide food assistance but on condition that unimpeded access will be granted to the areas in need and everything will not be handed over to the Taliban who will decide about whom to help.”

After the US announced the end of its operation in Afghanistan and the beginning of its troop withdrawal, the Taliban launched an offensive against Afghan government forces. On August 15, Taliban militants swept into Kabul without encountering any resistance, establishing full control over the country’s capital within a few hours. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said he had stepped down to prevent any bloodshed and subsequently fled the country. US troops left Afghanistan on August 31.

From our partner RIAC

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

South Asia27 mins ago

Afghanistan and the Quest for Democracy Promotion: Symptoms of Post-Cold War Malaise

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan should be the first step in a reduced American overseas force posture. Democracy promotion in...

Middle East2 hours ago

UAE-Israel relations risk being built on questionable assumptions

A year of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel has proven to be mutually beneficial. The question...

Americas4 hours ago

Afghanistan and Beginning of the Decline of American Power

Has America’s disgraceful withdrawal from Afghanistan spoiled its global standing? The pictures of retreating American soldiers at Kabul International Airport...

Defense6 hours ago

North Korea’s Nuclear Shadow: A Worrisome Expansion

Abstract: The nuclear news from North Korea remains clear and threatening.  Ignoring both political warnings and legal prohibitions, Kim Jong...

Russia10 hours ago

Russia’s Blueprint For Success in the Middle East

As a tradition in the modern world the Middle East remains unstable. Continuous political turbulence in the region extinguishes all...

pakistan-terrorism pakistan-terrorism
Terrorism17 hours ago

India’s view of “terrorism: at the UNGA?

At the recent United Nations’ general Assembly session, India was furious at mention of Kashmir by Pakistan’s prime minister Imran...

New Social Compact19 hours ago

Prevent gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies

Top UN officials met in the margins of the 76th General Assembly on Thursday,  with a strong call to action...

Trending