Social Scientist. v 8, no. 88 (Nov 1979) p. 84.


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Mechanics of Exploitation

BETSY HARTMANN AND JAMES BOYCE, NEEDLESS HUNGER:

VOICES FROM A BANGLADESH VILLAGE, Institute for Food and Development Policy, San Francisco, 1979,$ 3.00.

THIS little book is essentially a political document. Hartmann and Boyce carry on the spirit of the earlier publication of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (IFDP) by Gollins and Lappe. The effort is to portray to the western readers the mechanics of exploitation through the concrete example of the village of Katni in Bangladesh. In this attractive book there are heart-rending descriptions of the misery that is imposed on the ordinary people. Effective use is made of photographs, statistics and case studies.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is on ^Hunger in a Fertile Land." Bangladesh is among the ybest naturally endowed regions of the world for agriculture. It had an effective traditional agricultural system and skilled cottage industry in the past. It is today one of the poorest regions of ]the world. It is a country where in the mid-seventies thousands died of hunger in the course of a man-made famine. The second section "The Making of Hunger", tries to explain why so much ^hunger exists in such a rich land. There is a discussion on who owns the land with a case study of a man who is simultaneously a landlord, merchant and moneylender. The next chapter uses the example of Katni to show how the surplus is siphoned off from those who produce the food to those who own the land. The following .chapter talks of the Western argument that there is a conflict between efficiency and equality or distributional justice and economic growth. This book argues that hunger is the result of efficiency resulting from inequality. The alternative to this for eliminating hunger is seen in



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