US views India’s growing prosperity as “a positive thing”

May 10th, 2008 - 10:47 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 10 (IANS) The US has asked Indians not to look at its leaders’ comments about the growing prosperity of their middle class contributing to the rise in global food prices in a negative fashion. Commenting on angry public reaction to a statement by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday “I think the statement just gets to the basic fact that the world and the international system is changing.”

“Certainly, nobody in the US is trying to single out a government or nobody in the United States is expressing the sentiment that it is not a good thing that there is greater calorie intake among more people around the world than ever before,” he said. “That is a positive thing.”

“And the fact that you have greater economic prosperity around the world, whether it’s in India or China or elsewhere around the world, and as a result, there are different standards of living, a positive sense, that is good for the international system.

“That really speaks to some of the goals that were expressed at the inception of the current international financial, economic, and political system when you look back to the immediate post-war period in ‘46, ‘47, ‘48. It’s a positive thing.

“So again, I’m not sure what prism people are viewing the remarks through, but I would encourage them to not look at them in a way that is intended to single out, in a negative fashion, the people of India or anybody else around the world,” McCormack said.

A remark by Rice citing apparent improvement in the diets of people in China and India and resultant export caps among the reasons for the skyrocketing prices of grain worldwide, had evoked an angry reaction in India.

The Indian reaction turned into a furore when President George Bush too joined his top diplomat in suggesting that the growing prosperity of India’s large middle class is contributing to rising food prices around the world.

“… the more prosperous the world is, the more opportunity there is,” he said describing it as a “good thing”, but “It also, however, increases demand.”

“So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That’s bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population.

“And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food. And so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up,” said Bush joining Rice in suggesting India’s role in the world food crisis.

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