Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Why India, the new breadbasket of world, is upsetting our erstwhile slave-masters

At its simplest, once you have cut through all the noise and static, it comes down to this – no other food surplus country in the world can clean and turn-around a shipping container or a bulk carrier ship to food grade specifications faster and cheaper than India can. The difference in costs between India and EU/America is about 8-9 times and the difference in time taken is about 3 times.

Next valid point – diplomacy has been described as the art of a juggler keeping all the balls in the air at the same time. Despite border conflicts, India’s trade with China continues, and the imbalance in terms of value as well as shipping space is best covered by a non controversial export from India to China. Nothing fits this core fundamental requirement better than agri-produce.

Now look at extreme weather and climate change in the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. For those of us following shipping casualties, this winter season has seen over a dozen ships lose containers abroad because of bad weather there. There is, simply put, nowhere for a ship to run and hide if a huge storm comes out of literally nowhere on these two routes. 

The India to China and vice-versa routes, on the other hand, are mostly coastal. When bad weather is expected in the China Seas or the Bay of Bengal or the Indian Ocean along the Indian Coast (wrongly referred to as Arabian Sea), there is always shelter in the form of a coastal area nearby – and this route covers almost 2/3rds of the world’s population for precisely that reason. Ocean trade has always been safe between these two regions, India and China, with Indo-China in between.

Today, China needs to import vast quantities of food and agri-produce, for no other reason than that they concentrated on factories for the last 20-30 years. India, on the other hand, by luck or by design, has managed to strike a decent balance between the two. Payback time is now, and as India moves to take a commanding position in farm produce after having already stolen the march in dairy and fish/marine produce, the “traditional” farm produce countries are trembling. 

The early decades of steam and thereafter till the end of World War 2 saw the colonial countries running different triangular trades – with India and China – as well as Africa – getting the short end of the stick. You have to read a bit of history with an open mind to understand this, or go through books by Joseph Conrad, Pedro Machado or our very own Amitava Ghosh.

But today, for multiple reasons – and i take a risk by saying this – bilateral trade between India and China due to the reasons above, is about to change the complete global trading patterns, especially for food. Oil is no longer the fulcrum on which the world rotates, renewable energy is here to take over in the Indo-China sphere of activities, and India is the new breadbasket for the world.

Which is why the protests outside Delhi are being sponsored by those who stand to lose the most. Statistics and reports are available to those who want them. Questions are also welcome. Why complicate something so simple? Our erstwhile slave-masters are upset and are prodding their usual previous slaves in India. 

Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.

A survivor of two brain-strokes, triggered by a ship explosion in the 70s, Veeresh moved beyond fear decades ago.






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