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I am neither defending nor opposing jallikattu. Nor do I intend this to be an adverserial discussion. Bear with me, it is slightly long. The downside of describing behavior of bulls to those not trained to see it is that each picture seems to take a thousand words.

My response to the response by Poorva Joshipura, CEO of PETA India to my article on Jallikattu

While I don't agree with PETA India's view about the ban, I agree that the rights of animals must be protected. My main issue is that it does not seem familiar with the body language of cattle and sees everything as abuse, even when the bulls themselves clearly don't.

On the similarities between jallikattu and bullfighting—since you raised the point—there are many. You say weapons are used in bullfights—well guess what, they are also used during jallikattu events. During jallikattu, in the holding area, participants stab and jab bulls with sickles, spears, knives and sticks in order to force them to run toward the mob of men (which goes against their desire, which is to flee in the opposite direction). In bullfighting, the bulls are often deliberately disoriented. For jallikattu, bulls may be force-fed alcohol for the same purpose. Jallikattu participants also cause bulls intense pain by yanking their nose ropes, and jallikattu participants also punch, jump on and drag bulls to the ground and twist and bite their tails.

I will post here the video you refer to, that was included in my original article as visuals of the abuse Poorva mentions. An attempt to let bulls speak for themselves, so to say.

Sticks are commonly used to control livestock.If you have to use a stick through a narrow gap, your use is pretty much limited to "poke". This doesn't mean you're skewering the animal. Not something I like, but it is a fact of cattle rearing not limited to jallikattu. Also tail pulling, it is easy to see that the bull's movement is being controlled to angle him into a narrow space, except the last instance where it is to hold him back. To someone unaware of how cattle move or are moved, this may appear as random harassment, but this is likely shot outside the narrow pen the wary bull has to get into. Precise positioning using vulnerable body parts is normal. Not ideal. But not a jallikattu special either. Ask cattle transporters or... vets.

You claim jallikattu is similar to bullfighting, because weapons are used in the holding area. It may be possible, but so far I have yet to see blood on a bull entering the arena in any jallikattu video. It is also extremely unlikely that the cattle owners will take kindly to prime livestock being cut or injured by a mob. So I am just going to pass on this till I have some evidence it is prevalent.

About the "alcohol". The video is not certain it is alcohol. Supporters of jallikattu claim it is glucose water for a burst of energy. Whatever it is, the bull is drinking it willingly in the video. I don't think much will need to be done to make the bulls agitated. Not having control in a situation with a loud crowd and other bulls around will do the trick for most bulls.. Add to it the nature of the activity - youths dispersing when bull faces them, approaching in peripheral vision, pouncing - this sort of thing spooks all herbivores and is enough to make them flee. This is more along the line of harassment than brutality.

Few of the bulls appear intimidated by the men, though resentfully resigned to the control.Jallikattu or not, these are the same people they live with for the rest of the year, who care for them and are trusted, even if they are making freaky demands. Incidentally the same people who have cared for them well - you don't get these kind of bulls from neglect and brutality. Most of them are just extremely alert (watch ear and tail movements - ears pricked forward is alert, twitching back and forth is nervous, tucked tail is fear, head lowered is aggression). This is not fear, it is wariness. They burst out, get away from the youth and that is that. You will see it if you approach livestock at pasture. The more an animal is in the prime of health, the more it will startle, react. So bursting out of that area is about as normal as a racehorse bursting out of a gate. Some bulls are scared, definitely, where they go around trying to gore people. That is fear/anger behavior. And usually you'll find the crowd rapidly switch to calming the animal. Not always, not always successful. Basically the bull has "snapped". The bull has no idea which way is safety, feels cornered, so gets aggressive and does the next best thing, evicts people (the threat) from the arena. Or bulldozes through any and everything to get out of there leading to injuries for people and bulls. There ought to be safety protocols for handling this sort of thing, including the possibility of a referee kind of character who calls it a day for that bull if the men persist.

Cattle have strong flight responses. While they flee a threat, they aren't too scared unless they get trapped. It is a reflex. The bucking off of people trying to catch it. Left alone without further irritation, they will calm rapidly. For animals, "threat" is not how we interpret it. Anything from the unfamiliar to outright attack is a "threat". The usual response is a burst of adrenaline and a gallop away from the source. This really doesn't mean they are intimidated - reflex kind of thing. Spooked. Like we jump when someone goes "boo" is irritating, but not abuse - unlikely thought it may seem to someone not used to them. Or it would be impossible to have thousands of years of sport and get that same reaction over and over.

This is not to say it is "right" to play with them or that it is ethical. There is a need to engage with breeders of prime bulls, veterinarians, animal rights activists such as yourself, lawmakers and get perspectives and contribute to evolving more sustainable practices instead of helicoptering in with the "right interpretation" that those on the ground don't recognize. There will be negotiation. The worst of the practices will have to be chipped away. There will need to be convincing, not ordering. That is possible only when you have the buy in of those engaged in them.

But the most important thing from this video as well as others on the internet is the importance of a sturdy arena that the bull cannot exit and injure others or himself. Possibly with a little pen at the opposite end of the arena with view of arena blocked for the bulls to cool down where people other than owners should not be allowed. I repeat, I am not an expert or even familiar with jallikattu but it certainly appears that an area for bulls to escape to and cool down safely will largely reduce injuries for all. Regulation can actually achieve things of this sort if a determined effort is made to identify them.

There are other things, but my point is that there is a mix of abuse and normal behavior with cattle in the objections, which makes it difficult to tell what the prevalence of abuse because of jallikattu is. While this approach is very healthily pro-animals, it is hostile to their owners and considers them malicious by default to the point of making breeding and owning bulls at all unviable. This is a problematic view - that the animals who are clearly in excellent condition are better off not existing at all, because of your views on how they are treated on one day. These are bulls worth lakhs that you are consigning to being no better than butcher meat. And they will face worse injuries, because if more money is not to be spent on them, they will have to be provably economically unviable to be butchered. Not the few that accidentally get injured, but deliberate neglect and potentially injury by owners unable to sell them or earn from them anymore. Because here is a thing. An owner loves an animal he takes pride in, not one he has to feed at the cost of necessities for his own home. Livestock are not pets, they are property. Check out the vanishing male cattle in Maharashtra. There is a complete ban on slaughter now, but the law was similar to Tamil Nadu when these numbers happened - no slaughter of cows, only slaughter of economically unviable males. They get abandoned or starved to death now. They got butchered earlier, but every successive rural hardship has led to a decline in their numbers. Such are the alternatives you are recommending when you remove the one thing that makes them desirable and economically viable. With a  ban on jallikattu there remains little need for an indigenous cow owner to opt for continuing - this often includes stud fees that are 20 times the fees of artificial insemination - with imported sperm. You are wrong when you say it is entirely determined by dairy industry. It is, if there is no other use for non-dairy cattle, which you are ensuring.

You also claim the bulls used for jallikattu are “aggressive by nature and prone to attack”. Are you sure you’re not talking about the jallikattu players? The bulls run helter-skelter not because they are aggressive, but because they are scared. They are so scared they need to be coerced to participate through weapons and the cruel methods as described above.

In fact, a teacher in Mexico conducted an experiment to prove it is not the bulls, but the humans, who are aggressive. The teacher had the students stand in a bullfighting arena where a bull was let loose and matadors used red flags as they do during bullfights. As you can see in the video, the bull just wants to find a way out, and is working on doing so, without hurting anyone:


The video shows bulls will not attack if not provoked.

You seem to think of bulls as terrified, timid creatures. They are not. They are capable of fear, of course, but they are perfectly capable of attacking people if they feel cornered- or, for that matter, otherwise. I have to disagree completely here to the point of DON'T TRY THIS. This video is extremely misleading bullshit. The "bull" in the video is a calf. Watch him run - all legs, no bulk, total frisky. Still has his baby coat of hair. Adorable max, but really he wouldn't do anything even if the students petted him. Likely around a year to a year and half old, though guesstimate - not familiar with the development of that breed. The male aggressive behavior is a part of sexual maturity. You won't see it in calfs! It wouldn't matter even if the students moved all they want or got aggressive. The calf would shy away. There is a reason bulls are castrated as a medical practice. It is because adult males can be very aggressive and territorial. Never mind me. If you can trust the University of Wisconsin Department of Dairy Science to not have an agenda of protecting jallikattu or any other bullfighting, here's an excerpt from their Farm Safety Fact Sheets. This excerpt is on page 2.

I also have no idea why you think bulls aren't aggressive. I've met many bulls who would dispute that. Heck I know a couple that went out of their way to make that point. Strangers couldn't pass one of those damned critters without risking getting gored. Zero provocation. Just existence was enough. Magnificent animal, but liked people about as much as I do, was just less inhibited about it. Loved him. From a distance. To the best of my knowledge, he was never mistreated. Was the darling of the family, whom he never attacked. Put him in that Facebook video and it would never get uploaded. There would be a news headline "Bull gores x students in an attempt at a Facebook video gone horrily wrong." Just like good temperament, bad temperament too is a combination of nature and nurture. And sometimes just the personality of the animal. Most bulls fall somewhere in the middle, though all are territorial to some degree unless castrated. They can also be trained otherwise, but this is unnatural behavior, not easy and cannot be relied on with anyone other than their trainer. They may be trained for fights too, but you cannot invent aggression in an animal. Only train discipline or how to channel aggression.

This is one thing I want to insist - regardless of jallikattu or bullfighting. Please stop spreading disinformation that could put people at risk. You are a voice of authority related with animals. The chances are that you could get a gullible urban supporter gored. Rural folks who know bulls won't believe.

You have concluded your piece by mentioning that other animals suffer—but the existence of one type of suffering cannot justify another. If it did, setting animal rights aside, even human rights would never progress. You, as a woman, or me as a woman, would likely never have been educated or have the opportunities we have today if people thought this way.

It is a minor point, but defending my honor here. The article is public. You are implying I conclude the article justifying jallikattu by bringing in other instances of animal suffering. Actually, that is not how the article ends. The PETA video which actually makes the opposite argument comes after that. Entirely voluntarily. Why would I do that if I wanted to conclude with justifications of jallikattu and ignore harm to cattle as something other animals go through too?

The rights of animals aren't a negotiable issue for me. My disagreement is with what constitutes abuse as well as whether the alternative is better or worse. I am also concerned about people and their livelihoods. And I am not concluding that jallikattu does not involve abuse. I am trying to find out more. I am trying to decode the complaints and see what appear to be genuine areas of concern and what appears to be a misunderstanding. I am interested in knowing whether there is a possibility that allows all to thrive without harming another.


The following is the response by Poorva Joshipura, CEO of PETA India to my article on Jallikattu published yesterday. Obviously PETA India disagrees with those wanting jallikattu to not be banned, but Poorva asserts a similarity between jallikattu and bullfighting, raises questions about injuries to humans and animals and questions the validity of the argument that a ban on jallikattu would harm the survival of indigenous breeds of cattle. 

Dear Vidyut,

I am the CEO of PETA India and I have read your article essentially defending jallikattu.

Please know that nobody ever said jallikattu is bullfighting nor used arguments against bullfighting for jallikattu—jallikattu is jallikattu, a cruelty on its own (which admittedly has some similarities to bullfighting). Jallikattu is a spectacle in which a mob of grown men taunt, chase and deliberately terrify bulls. These animals become so panicked they slip, fall, run into barriers and traffic, and even jump off cliffs, so desperate are they to escape. They also accidentally run smack straight into people while attempting to flee, causing numerous human injuries and deaths. From 2010 to 2014, media outlets reported that there were some 1,100 human injuries and 17 deaths caused by jallikattu-style events, including the death of a child. The actual number is probably higher since many injuries likely weren’t reported in the news.

Your piece, which claims “[jallikattu] is by no means a fight that endangers the animals” and that “the worst a bull will usually come to is exhaustion and injuries” is false, as bulls not only commonly break their bones, but some bulls like some humans also lose their lives. In any case, causing unnecessary suffering and injuries to bulls is also rightly against the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act 1960. Your point that “I don’t think even PETA will dispute this” is also, therefore, false. It would be nice for you to contact PETA rather than to assume anything and write what you think PETA would say.

On the similarities between jallikattu and bullfighting—since you raised the point—there are many. You say weapons are used in bullfights—well guess what, they are also used during jallikattu events. During jallikattu, in the holding area, participants stab and jab bulls with sickles, spears, knives and sticks in order to force them to run toward the mob of men (which goes against their desire, which is to flee in the opposite direction). In bullfighting, the bulls are often deliberately disoriented. For jallikattu, bulls may be force-fed alcohol for the same purpose. Jallikattu participants also cause bulls intense pain by yanking their nose ropes, and jallikattu participants also punch, jump on and drag bulls to the ground and twist and bite their tails.

You also claim the bulls used for jallikattu are “aggressive by nature and prone to attack”. Are you sure you’re not talking about the jallikattu players? The bulls run helter-skelter not because they are aggressive, but because they are scared. They are so scared they need to be coerced to participate through weapons and the cruel methods as described above.

In fact, a teacher in Mexico conducted an experiment to prove it is not the bulls, but the humans, who are aggressive. The teacher had the students stand in a bullfighting arena where a bull was let loose and matadors used red flags as they do during bullfights. As you can see in the video, the bull just wants to find a way out, and is working on doing so, without hurting anyone:

This Teacher Showed The True Cruelty Of Bullfighting

Say no to bullfighting!

Posted by The Holidog Times on 20hb Disember 2016

The video shows bulls will not attack if not provoked.

So desperate have jallikattu supporters become to be allowed to taunt bulls, they have come up with all sorts of ridiculous arguments, such as that jallikattu is somehow a native breed conservation scheme. Ha! Nothing can be further from the truth. The prevalence of various breeds of cattle used by humans in India is almost entirely determined by the choices of the country’s dairy industry. This is because humans manipulate domesticated breeds to suit their own purposes, such as increased milk production. The industry was determining which types of cow were bred in India long before the Supreme Court confirmed a ban on jallikattu in 2014. In other words, where there is an interest in choosing native breeds over those who are foreign or cross-bred, the influence has to be put on the dairy industry, and that is happening elsewhere. And of course the ban on the use of bulls in performances is just that—it does not prevent anyone from keeping cattle for other purposes should they choose.

You have concluded your piece by mentioning that other animals suffer—but the existence of one type of suffering cannot justify another. If it did, setting animal rights aside, even human rights would never progress. You, as a woman, or me as a woman, would likely never have been educated or have the opportunities we have today if people thought this way.

Thank you very much for including the video shared with you by Sachin at the end, but your inclusion of it will not undo the damage your piece may otherwise do to bulls who need all of the support they get. And by the way, those videos were taken at a time when jallikattu was conducted under established rules and regulations. Pro-jallikattu advocates already made the arguments to the Supreme Court that the spectacle can once again be conducted under such rules, but the court has acknowledged that causing bulls fear and forcing them to run this way is not only the infliction of unnecessary suffering, which is against Indian law, but also incredibly hard on this species of animal in particular. To understand more about jallikattu, please read the attached Supreme Court order.

By the way, it’s not only jallikattu which is banned under Indian law but also dogfighting, cockfighting, bull racing, bullfighting, the use of certain species of animals in performances like circuses and film and more and the bans apply India-wide, not only in Tamil Nadu. That’s because just as it would be wrong to get kicks off of the expense of abusing a woman or a child, it is wrong to get kicks off of the abuse of animals just because they are vulnerable and unlike humans, cannot speak up for themselves.

And for anyone who really wants to show their strength, I invite them to join PETA India. It takes much more strength to stand up for what’s right, than to be part of a mob taunting an animal who has not chosen to be there.

I do wish you would not glorify cruelty to animals, and quite frankly I wish you would take your piece down or modify it. It’s the animals who are the victims here, and the animals desperately need us on their side. Anyway, you have my direct email address now. Please do feel free to touch base with me in the future.

Kindest regards,
Poorva Joshipura
PETA India

She has also attached: Jallikattu judgement SSC

I will respond to Poorva Joshipura, PETA India separately later without detracting from it in any way here. My hope is to find a middle ground that does justice to both animals and man. I welcome your views as well. A dialogue of this nature can only enrich our collective awareness and thoughtfulness with regard to issues that impact lives, regardless of conclusion.

Transcript of Globalizing Inequality - a lecture by P. Sainath, sponsored by the Center for Social and Environmental Justice of Washington State University, Vancouver. Video by pdxjustice Media Productions.

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4


[In fact, so many new boutiques in fashion… fashion boutiques and designer stores have opened in Moscow that when Armani opened his designer store, in Moscow, the international world…] mocked him gently saying he was Giorgio come lately, because everyone else, Versace, Bulgari, all of them were already there and all this time people were dying of hypothermia in the city.

China. Long one of the most egalitarian societies in the world, is now seeing gaps between its coastal areas and its rural interior that it has not seen perhaps in 100 years. The Chinese people's procuratorate - a watchdog body of their communist party, the People's procuratorate of China, towards the end of 2003, came out with a report saying that two of the ... I mean, report on various things, in which it had mentioned... that two of the giant and rapidly growing sectors of the economy are - one is corruption and the other is prostitution. That was the watchdog body of the Communist Party of China speaking.

It forced them, in fact to have a special session in their last Congress on this issue of inequality.

It's in China. It's in India. It's in Russia. 

But by the way, harking back to the... but all this doesn't gain ground, because you see every night on every single one of your television channels - the giant soothsayer industry. "It's getting better. Things are actually getting a lot better"

You know, it's the baseline statistical, the baseline game. If you draw the baseline in the last ice age, everybody is doing better. And it's also the statistical averaging game, which we won't get into here.

But just to give you an idea of the way of looking at growth for instance... which do you think was the fastest growing economy in 2003 in the world? 


Afghanistan was the fastest growing economy in the world at 21%. See Afghanistan's GNP doubles if you just stop bombing. You build one school. It's a vast improvement. But by the conventional measures of growth, that was the fastest growing economy in 2003 and the United Nations however humbly added that 50% of the growth came from the cultivation and sale of opium.

Because you have destroyed any other means of livelihood for poor people in that country. They just cannot earn another way.

What about Africa? How did Africa do in all this?

Ask Joseph Stiegler. Former chief economist of the World Bank sacked for his incompatibility or incompetence, which of course immediately qualified him for the Nobel Prize.

As he points out, the African continent, subjected to forcibly imposed policies of the IMF and the World Bank has lost nearly a fourth of her income. Even African cotton farmers who grow the cheapest cotton in the world go bankrupt. American cotton producers - not farmers - because these are corporations, not farmers get an annual subsidy of a million dollars each.

No one can compete against that. So great is Africa's overall crisis today - and I think it is worth considering this point in view of all the amount of concern about outsourcing - that today, according to the Financial Times, the entire continent of Africa has just 20,000 engineers and scientists to serve a continent of six hundred million people, because today, there are more African scientists and doctors and engineers working in the United States than in all of Africa and much of this drain of medical personnel has come from South Africa - the country facing the world's largest AIDS pandemic.

So when you are talking about outsourcing, let's look at this  reverse factor as well. Let's look at what's happening.

Let's look at the millions of manufacturing jobs lost in China by the new process of liberalization, privatization and globalization that's taken place.

200 jobs lost here. Phenomenal outcry - and yes - what's being promoted - and that should be the view - the way of viewing it - is the race to the bottom.

Keep finding people who will work cheaper and cheaper and cheaper until you drive them into the ground.

That's the game - it's a race to the bottom. It's not jobs stolen from one set of poor people by another set of poor people.

In India, in the last few years, the inequality has - that's why I started with the theme weddings - the inequality has reached such proportions... let me tell you some truths about the tiger economy.

I speak very bravely these days, because I have an election of 2004 behind me. Every time I spoke before that - My God! it used to infuriate people if I told them "This is what the government data shows".

At a time when India was being promoted as the emerging tiger economy, its per capita food availability in 2003 was lower than it had been during the Bengal famine of 1942-43. You can check that figure in the pre-budget economic survey - a document that the government of India places in parliament at the time of the budget session of Parliament.

Amartya Sen's figures will show you that the per capita availability of foodgrain in the Bengal famine was 147.5 kilogrammes per Indian. In 2003 it was 141.7 kilogrammes per Indian. Seven kilogrammes less than in the Bengal famine.

In this period, they were still implementing the structural adjustment policies of export led growth. In a period when per capita availability of foodgrain was so low, India exported 30 million tons of foodgrain in 18 months at a price far lower than that at which she sells it to poor people in her own country.

We exported that grain to overseas markets at 5 rupees 40 paise a kilogram, while selling it to poor people in Andhra Pradesh at 6 rupees 45 paise a kilogram. And then we boasted "Look at our mountains of foodgrain" Mountains of foodgrains existed because the structural adjustments programme had so effectively destroyed the purchasing power of the poor that they could not buy food at those prices.

It was that hunger that drove the kind of election results you saw last year.

Once we entered the brave new world of liberalization, privatization, India cut development expenditure from her budget. Cut development expenditure from her plan outlays. From 14.5% of gross domestic product, to 5.9% of her gross domestic product. That is a cataclysmic fall of about 30,000 crores, which is about 7 billion  dollars. 

We removed 7 billion dollars from development expenditure, but we didn't just remove 7 billion dollars. When 7 billion dollars is invested in the Indian rural economy, it converts to about 30-35 billion dollars of rural income. We blew that income away and that's when the crisis began, that's when the farmer suicides began. That's when our agrarian crisis took off. That's when thousands of farmers committed suicide between 1997 and 2003 becoming the lead issue in at least 2 or three states in the elections - the suicides of thousands of farmers, which I've had the misfortune - the total misfortune - of being the mug who has to cover.

Don't think that farmer's suicides are something that happen only in India. They happen right here in the United States. Maybe they don't all get reported as suicides because there are two problems associated with the reporting of suicides all over the world. One is stigma, second, in USA is insurance. 

So a lot of them, if you speak to the farm unions here, they will tell you that a number of suicides are not necessarily reported as suicides, but as accidents, because you don't want to deny the family insurance.

In India there are at least seven ways in which you can undermine the suicide figures and that was the investigation I did between 2001 and 2004 in Andhra Pradesh, which I am now doing in Kerala and finding out that the number of rich district of Wyanad, Kerala is as intense as the poor district of Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, because cartels have emerged at the global level, which are controlling and rigging commodity prices.

Commodity prices have collapsed at the level of the producer, at the level of the wholesale, at the level of the small farmer. They haven't changed much at the global level. Each time one of you goes out there and buys a cup of coffee, one twentieth of what you pay for that cup of coffee goes to that guy who spends his life growing coffee in Wyanad or in Brazil.

The rest goes to Sara Lee, to Kraft, to Nestles, to Starbucks and to the big boys. That's how the world of commodities is now rigged. Now, the prices of commodities are falling for the producer right in this country.

In the United States, between 94 and 99, consumer prices at the market actually rose 2.8%, but family farm prices crashed 37.5% in this very country. We're just slaughtering the small farms, the small households across the world.

If you look at your farm subsidies which are leading to suicides in Africa, for instance. They didn't go to small farmers in the United States. They went to 26 Fortune500 corporations. I was delighted to find who your struggling small farmers were when I checked the Associated Press database on this story.

I cried buckets when I realized that poor old guys standing in the line for handouts of agricultural subsidies in the United States included Ted Turner and Scottie Pippen and not to forget, David Rockefeller. They are all listed as recipients of agricultural subsidies in this country, whereas your small farmer is going bust.

I worked for a semester while teaching in a university of Iowa in the late 90s - in 1998. Where every day in the paper I read about another family farm going belly up. More foreclosures. More farms closing. And once the farmers of Iowa had a spectacular protest where they came and released lots of hogs in the streets of one of the towns nearby and explained that while the price of pork on the supermarket had not fallen one cent on the pound, their prices had collapsed.

So somewhere.... the money was going somewhere. Where was it going? This is happening in the United States. 

Farmer suicides are occurring in the United Kingdom up to the 2001 for which figures are available, at two and a half a week on average. They are occuring in Burkina Faso and Mali in Africa where cotton growers of Burkina Faso are getting wiped out by the subsidies of the UN and the United States.

All over the world, that small farmer is getting wiped out to the benefit of corporations. That's the kind of situation that you're looking at.

In Latin America, long the world's most unequal region, inequality rose so sharply in the 90s, which was terrible for a continent that had seen a hundred million people  fall already below the poverty line in the 1980s. They had two rounds of shock therapy.

There is an Oxfam figure that tells us that in Mexico alone, an additional eleven million people fell below the poverty line between 1990 and 96.

Worldwide, as FAO director general Jacques Diouf points out, in the last fifteen years, in which rich countries increased subsidies to their farmers or agricultural producers, poor countries went from being net exporters of food to net importers.

India is the country that produces the best spices of pepper in the world. They come from Malabar. Many explorers from the West and the medieval ages used to sail to India looking for Malabar pepper. Malabar pepper is premium grade pepper as against four other lower grades of pepper. Malabar pepper has collapsed, because the new laws allow people to import third grade, fourth grade pepper into India, remix it with Malabar pepper and re-export it to rich markets.

So farmers in that very rich district of Wayanad, that is the source of most of the Malabar pepper are committing suicde in very large numbers.

In coffee. The coffee prices have collapsed by a factor of ten, pepper prices have collapsed just through the floor. Vanilla prices have collapsed. cardamom prices have collapsed, but if you get on to the multi commodities exchange websites, you'll find that at the global level, the prices have not fallen so much.

Somebody is making the money and those are corporations. These are the driving force of the new inequality that's going on. India is a classic example of engineered inequality.

The New York Times had, some time ago, a front page article celebrating the birth of  a class of people who spend their weekend at the mall. Isn't that delightful? And some of the letters that came in from India were also illogical, you know?

I noticed a few NRI exchanges proudly about "have you seen this article? Everybody is spending time at the mall in India" It would have to be a VERY BIG MALL.

While all this celebration was going on, per capita food availability was falling. At a time when the tiger economy was being painted, India's position in the rank of nations, in the human development index of the United Nations fell from 124 to 127, which places us below - for the poor people - not for the rich people, because India's rich are richer, I think than some of North America's rich.

However, it places you below - for the quality of life for poor people - places you below el Salvador. It places us below Botswana and the occupied territories of the Palestine.

So here, the greater - it's pretty much like the Tsunami model. The greater the misery of the poor, the greater the achievement of the markets. The greater the misery of the poor, the better the rich are doing.

Here we come to this thing of, what does that inequality growing in every - I've traced it for you even now in Africa, Europe, wherever. It's happening in Japan, again one of the more egalitarian societies in many senses. It's growing very rapidly in Japan, where the Japanese are under severe pressure to privatize their pension funds, to privatize their providend funds, to privatize their simplified life insurance and postal insurance and postal savings. And who are the ones forcing them to do the privatization? Same bunch of corporations.

Now the kind of gaps that are coming up between rich and poor - in 2002 in this country, Prof. Paul Krugman of Princeton wrote that essay on inequality and there's also another brilliant essay by Jamie Galbraith on the perfect crime - inequality in the global age, where Krugman argues, quite correctly in my opinion, that obscene levels of inequality don't nearly threaten economic well being. They threaten and undermine the existence of democracy.

[contd in part 5]

Transcript of Globalizing Inequality - a lecture by P. Sainath, sponsored by the Center for Social and Environmental Justice of Washington State University, Vancouver. Video by pdxjustice Media Productions.

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4


We did it weeping in our hearts for we too live in slums and we know our turn will come. The police constables giving protection to the demolition also live in slums and they did not take any pleasure in the actions they were forced to undertake by the government of Maharashtra. The people doing the demolitions were from the slums.

Incidentally. a United Nations habitat report of around late 2003 makes the assessment that by 2030, 25 years from now, fully one-third of humanity will live in urban slums. One third. The largest number of those are going to be in india and Africa.

None of this got covered. Even in covering the Tsunami, even in covering... this is the mindset of inequality. What happened? The poor have no rights. Even in the coverage of the Tsunami.

Whatever was done for the Tsunami victims was a result not of their rights, but of our generosity. You are going to get a new house. Not because you are a citizen of a decent society, not because you are entitled to one, which you are, under the directive principles of the Indian Constitution.

You're not going to get a house because of that. You're going to get a house because I am sorry that half your family was washed away in the Tsunami. It's not about your rights. It's about my generosity.

We've reduced people to that. We've reduced the poor to the objects of our generosity and our sympathy.

You build your own home, we'll demolish it. But we'll give you a new one. If we choose to. That is, if we feel sorry for you.

How agonized we are over how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live.

If you look at the Indian stock market. Coming back to that central indicator of how economies are doing, the Confedration of Indian Industry, which has the most optimistic take on such figures says that the total number of people having any kind of investment in the stock exchange constitute less than 1.15% - I repeat - one point one point percent of India's hundred and eighty million plus households.

1.15% of households. That's the most optimistic figure of those participating in any kind of investment in stock markets.

Yet, as I told... when the stock market collapsed, in May 2004, it collapsed for all of two days. The country's largest newspaper had a front page mimicing 9/11. "Ground Zero!" said the headline. 2,340 billion rupees lost. Notional money. Which came back two days later. Notionally. And it had an aircraft flying into the stock exchange building and the tail of the aircraft had the communist hammer and sickle.

Well, when the stock exchange collapsed for all of 48 hours, this was following what every political analyst across the spectrum says is India's second most historic election since independence - 1977 after the emergency and 2004.

The finance minister of the country abandoned the first day of parliament, did not attend the first day of the new historic parliament. He came rushing to Bombay to the stock market to dry the tears and hold the hands of destroyed millionaires of dalal street.

Two days later it was okay, but he stayed there three days to make sure that the market behaved, then he went home.

It was... ah... meanwhile, an election that was largely fought on the key two states on the issue of farmers suicides, it took another 149 suicides of farmers in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh before the Prime Minister condescended to visit the place.

But a twitch in the SENSEX had the finance minister jetting out to Mumbai. That is the difference of attention that you get if you are poor or if you are rich.

So it is all about our generosity and our feelings and whom we are feeling sorry for today, or who we feel sorry for most of the time. If you start applying these measures to the various forms of generosity that you see, you get a very different picture from what you get from the Tsunami coverage.

One of my favorite forms of generosity is the drive to wipe out malaria in the third world. Some of you may have read about this - the distribution of - the planned distribution of millions of bed nets to protect people against malaria. Have you ever read about this?

It's a plan involving the WHO, the World Bank and anyone else out to make a dollar.

Teh fun part of this malaria nets thing is, by 1980, India had more or less successfully contained malaria. It was almost wiped out by the early 1980s. In the 1990s we entered the brave new world of structural adjustment. Huge cuts in public services. Privatization of medical services in a large way. Soaring costs of medical attention. 21% of the Indian rural public no longer seeked medical attention for their ailments - that's the latest figure we have - because they simply cannot afford it.

Now after all these cuts, malaria resurfaces with a vengeance in India and in neighbouring countries. Having caused it to resurface in the first place, now generosity demands that we distribute bed nets - millions of bed nets to people who don't have beds.

Now, if you're living in a hut, you don't fix your bed net to a wall, because you don't sleep close to the wall, because that's where the crepy crawlies reside. The scorpions and other stuff. You try sleeping a little away from the wall.

I'm a rural reporter. I spend 270 days of every year for the last 12 years in the villages and self-preservation causes you to figure out these sort of things about where you sleep and where you don't sleep.

So first, we're getting these bed nets to people who don't have beds, at the cost of God knows how many million dollars. It's planned. Every time it's been attacked, they have withdrawn quietly, only to try and bring it back through the next government.

Now, if anyone with even half a brain knows that even if these nets... oh, by the way, you'll forgive the gendered language... it doesn't mind, it's theirs. It says that these bed nets will protect you against malaria because the nets are impregnated with anti-mosquito repellent. Whatever that means.

Now, anyone with half a brain knows that the malaria ... we'll exempt the experts, right? - we're talking about people. Anyone knows that the malaria mosquito is not most active when you sleep. It is most active at dawn and dusk when people are in the fields.

Of course, you could make a bold new fashion statement by walking around in your net, but it might cramp your style.

The whole thing is one unmitigated racket. This is the generosity of the generosity, you know... the charity that begins at home and stays there. It has nothing to do with the eradication of malaria in these countries.

Speaking of malaria, one of the astonishing things you can look at in the spectrum of inequality across the globe both in the terms of what's happening and how the media cover it, is what I call the globalization of communicable diseases.

Anyone in the audience remember this word - SARS? Rings a bell? Yeah, it does, doesn't it?

You remember how SARS was perceived as moving about like the black death, mowing down millions in its deadly wake? You know how many people actually died of SARS in India? Zero.

SARS sero.

You can look at the World Health Organization's website on the subject. Total number of cases identified in India? Three. But from the coverage you got from the media, you think that SARS... you know the subcontinent was in danger of its survival, right? The way it was covered.

3 cases from SARS. 0 deaths from sars. Why did SARS get so much attention? And by the way I'm not saying that SARS is not dangerous. You're going to get a hell of a lot of SARS by other names in the not too distant future, because we have globalized communicable diseases through these strategies of the last 10-15 years. Through the policies of the last 10-15 years.

However, it's important to look at why SARS or plague... you know in '94 we had a plague in India. Every aircraft going out of India was sprayed while going out, sprayed while being received at in the airports in the West. The plague killed 53 people. SARS worldwide - in its 100 days according to the World Health Organization's website, in the hundred days of its existence in the first round, across the planet, SARS killed 879 human beings.

That's about half the number of people who die of tuberculosis every day in India.

But TB never gets the same kind of coverage. Because it kills the wrong people. SARS germs, plague germs kill the beautiful people. So they get that kind of attention. In the media, in the medical systems, in the government's policies.

Plague germs, SARS germs, they are notorious for their non-observance of class distinctions. They board aircraft and fly club class to New York and that scares the pants off the world.

So they affect the wrong kinds of people. And I'm not just talking about poor countries. How many people are aware, that in August 2003... in OCTOBER 2003, the government of France, one of the best off countries in the world... The government of France acknowledged that in August 2003, 15,000 senior French citizens had died in a heat wave.

Now France has had heat waves before. Why did 15,000 people die in that heat wave and why is it that all those 15,000 citizens were elderly pensioners and retirees?

You know, the thing is, 879 people from SARS in 100 days. 15,000 people in rich France in the space of a month. And it didn't make the world headlines, because they were largely poor, elderly pensioners whose health benefits had been subjected to severe cuts in the preceeding two or three years. That's why they died.

If it had been 800 people of the flying classes, you got that kind of coverage. When 15,000 - and again, we're not talking about Bangladesh and India - we're talking about France. 15,000 senior citizens died, they didn't even make news. You can get on to the net and look at the figures and the discussion. They had a special parliamentary commission to go into it, I don't know what came out of it.

It may also be interesting to look at why China was the worst affected country by SARS. And that has a lot to do with what we're discussing today. In the 90s... in the 80s and 90s we entered this world of structural adjustment, cut some subsidies, cut some basic services, withdrawal of entitlements of poor people, and privatization of just about everything including soul and intellect.

The Chinese government closed tens of thousands of factories. Now if you are a citizen of China, you have access to health through your workplace, through your school, your factory or the local network that you were aligned with.

When tens of thousands of factories were closed down across China, millions of workers lost access to health. The chain of command, the alarm system, the signal system by which a new disease got reported and got checked at the labs and the tertiary level, that system completely collapsed.

Therefore when SARS hit, there was no plot on the Chinese government's part to conceal it. For most of the time, they really didn't know, because they had destroyed the system by which they could have known. They destroyed it to save a few million dollars, and lost a few billion dollars, because the deprivations you visit on the poor, tend to come back to you.

That was the year when the Chinese GDP took its worst hit in a decade and a half. Also leaving severe scars on the GDP of Singapore, Thailand, and a number of other countries, also hit by SARS.

The great software festival of China was cancelled. China lost billions of dollars though it saved million, in throwing workers out of work. Throwing workers out of their factories. That happened with China.

Did I mention France? In this country, I have no idea. I don't think there is a clear estimate, how many elderly American's cross the border into Mexico and Canada to buy drugs. I do know that your Federal government has responded to it by conducting police raids on pharmacies in Michigan.

Not by trying to provide cheaper drugs to poor people, but by conducting police raids on pharmacies in Michigan and the Mexican border. To prevent people from getting cheaper drugs.

In Africa, thanks to the new institutional arrangements and the trips and the WTO... under the trade related intellectual property rights and the WTO, India... an Indian company which produced so far the cheapest - the company's name is Cipla - which produced the cheapest anti-AIDS drug. Millions of Africans were denied the right to get this drug at dirt cheap prices, by the intervention of multinational corporations of the pharmaceutical sector.

After a huge outcry - after considerable outrage across the world, a compromise was reached, but the owner of the company will still tell you that he can provide it for much cheaper if it were not for the pressures working on him nationally and internationally.