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How Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen Challenge the Conventional Views on Hunger in Their Book The Political Economy of Hunger Volume 3




Jean Dreze, Amartya Sen and The Political Economy of Hunger Volume 3: Endemic Hunger




Introduction




Hunger is one of the most pressing and persistent challenges facing humanity. According to the United Nations, more than 800 million people suffer from chronic undernourishment, and more than 2 billion people face moderate or severe food insecurity. While hunger can be caused by various factors such as natural disasters, wars, poverty, inequality, and climate change, there is a specific form of hunger that is often overlooked and misunderstood: endemic hunger.




Jean Dreze, Amartya Sen The Political Economy of Hunger Volume 3 Endemic Hunger



What is endemic hunger?




Endemic hunger is a condition of chronic malnutrition that affects large segments of the population in a given region or country, regardless of the availability of food or income. Endemic hunger is not caused by a sudden shortage of food, but by a long-term deprivation of adequate nutrition due to social, economic, political, and cultural factors. Endemic hunger can lead to stunted growth, impaired cognitive development, increased susceptibility to diseases, reduced productivity, and premature death.


Why is endemic hunger a global problem?




Endemic hunger is a global problem because it affects millions of people in both developing and developed countries. According to the World Health Organization, more than 150 million children under five years old are stunted due to chronic malnutrition, and more than 50 million children are wasted due to acute malnutrition. Moreover, endemic hunger can have intergenerational effects, as malnourished mothers are more likely to give birth to low-birth-weight babies who are also at risk of malnutrition. Endemic hunger can also undermine social cohesion, political stability, and economic growth, as well as human rights and dignity.


How does endemic hunger affect human development?




Endemic hunger affects human development in multiple ways. First, it impairs physical health and well-being, as malnutrition can compromise the immune system, increase the risk of infections and chronic diseases, reduce life expectancy, and cause disability. Second, it hampers cognitive and educational outcomes, as malnutrition can affect brain development, learning abilities, memory, attention span, and school performance. Third, it limits economic opportunities and potential, as malnutrition can reduce labor productivity, income generation, employability, and entrepreneurship. Fourth, it exacerbates social inequalities and injustices, as malnutrition can disproportionately affect vulnerable groups such as women, children, minorities, and marginalized communities.


Who are Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen?




Jean Dreze: Biography and Contributions




Jean Dreze is a Belgian-born Indian economist and activist who has dedicated his life to studying and fighting poverty and hunger in India and other developing countries. He obtained his PhD in economics from the Indian Statistical Institute in 1989 under the supervision of Amartya Sen. He has taught at various universities such as the London School of Economics, the Delhi School of Economics, and the Allahabad University. He is currently a visiting professor at the Ranchi University and a honorary professor at the Delhi School of Economics.


Jean Dreze is known for his pioneering work on famine prevention, food security, social policy, and human development. He has co-authored several influential books with Amartya Sen, such as Hunger and Public Action (1989), India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity (1995), and An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions (2013). He has also been involved in various grassroots movements and campaigns for social justice, such as the Right to Food Campaign, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, and the Right to Information Act. He has received numerous awards and honors for his academic and activist contributions, such as the International Balzan Prize (2001), the Leontief Prize (2013), and the Tyler Prize (2020).


Amartya Sen: Biography and Contributions




Amartya Sen is a Nobel laureate Indian economist and philosopher who has made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of welfare economics, social choice theory, development economics, and human rights. He obtained his PhD in economics from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1959. He has taught at various prestigious universities such as the Delhi School of Economics, the London School of Economics, the Harvard University, and the Oxford University. He is currently a professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University and a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.


Amartya Sen is known for his innovative work on poverty, inequality, democracy, freedom, justice, and human development. He has authored or co-authored several seminal books such as Collective Choice and Social Welfare (1970), Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981), Development as Freedom (1999), The Idea of Justice (2009), and The Country of First Boys: And Other Essays (2015). He has also been a vocal advocate for human rights, democracy, secularism, and peace. He has received numerous awards and honors for his academic and public service achievements, such as the Nobel Prize in Economics (1998), the Bharat Ratna (1999), the National Humanities Medal (2012), and the Albert Einstein World Award of Science (2017).


How did they collaborate on The Political Economy of Hunger?




Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen collaborated on The Political Economy of Hunger as part of a research project initiated by the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) in 1985. The project aimed to examine the causes and consequences of hunger in different regions of the world, as well as to propose policy solutions to address it. The project involved more than 50 researchers from various disciplines and countries, who contributed to a series of papers and reports. The Political Economy of Hunger is a three-volume book that synthesizes and expands on these papers and reports. Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen edited all three volumes, as well as wrote several chapters in each volume.


What is The Political Economy of Hunger?




The main themes and arguments of the book




The Political Economy of Hunger is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary analysis of hunger in its various forms and dimensions. The book challenges the conventional views that hunger is mainly caused by food scarcity or population growth, or that it can be solved by increasing food production or distribution. Instead, the book argues that hunger is largely a result of social, economic, political, and institutional factors that affect people's access to food and other basic resources. The book also argues that hunger is not only a matter of survival or welfare, but also a matter of rights and justice.


The book develops several key concepts and frameworks to understand and address hunger. One of them is the concept of entitlements, which refers to the set of alternative commodity bundles that a person can acquire through legal means in a given society. A person can suffer from hunger if their entitlements are insufficient to secure adequate nutrition, even if there is enough food available in the market or in the society. Another concept is the idea of capabilities, which refers to the substantive freedoms that a person enjoys to pursue their valued goals and activities. A person can suffer from hunger if their capabilities are constrained by malnutrition or other deprivations that affect their health, education, employment, or participation.


The book also proposes several criteria and indicators to measure and compare hunger across different contexts and groups. One of them is the criterion of starvation prevention, which focuses on avoiding deaths due to hunger or related causes. Another criterion is the standard of living adequacy, which focuses on ensuring minimum levels of nutrition and other basic needs for all people. A third criterion is the quality of life achievement, which focuses on enhancing people's opportunities and choices to lead fulfilling lives.



The empirical evidence and case studies of the book




The Political Economy of Hunger provides a wealth of empirical evidence and case studies to illustrate and support its main themes and arguments. The book covers various regions and countries that have experienced or are experiencing different forms of hunger, such as famine, chronic malnutrition, food insecurity, or hidden hunger. Some of the examples include the Bengal famine of 1943, the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85, the Sahelian drought of 1968-74, the Chinese famine of 1958-61, the Indian food crisis of 1966-67, the Brazilian hunger problem of 1980s, and the sub-Saharan African hunger situation of 1990s.


The book analyzes the causes and consequences of hunger in each case by using a multidimensional and comparative approach. The book examines how various factors such as entitlement failures, market failures, public action failures, political failures, social failures, and environmental failures can contribute to or exacerbate hunger. The book also examines how hunger can affect various aspects of human development such as health, education, productivity, income, inequality, democracy, and human rights. The book draws lessons and insights from each case to inform and improve policy interventions and social movements to combat hunger.


The policy implications and recommendations of the book




The Political Economy of Hunger offers a range of policy implications and recommendations to address hunger in its various forms and dimensions. The book emphasizes that there is no single or simple solution to hunger, but rather a need for a comprehensive and context-specific approach that takes into account the multiple causes and consequences of hunger. The book also emphasizes that there is no trade-off between economic growth and social welfare, but rather a complementarity and synergy between them.


The book suggests several policy areas and instruments that can help prevent or reduce hunger. Some of them include: - Promoting agricultural development and food security by increasing productivity, diversification, distribution, and access to food. - Enhancing social protection and safety nets by providing income support, food subsidies, public works, cash transfers, and insurance to vulnerable groups. - Expanding public services and infrastructure by improving health care, education, water supply, sanitation, roads, and communication to enhance human capabilities and opportunities. - Strengthening democracy and human rights by ensuring political participation, accountability, transparency, rule of law, and freedom of expression to protect people's entitlements and capabilities. - Fostering social justice and solidarity by reducing inequality, discrimination, violence, and corruption to promote social cohesion and cooperation.


Conclusion




Summary of the main points




In this article, we have discussed Jean Dreze, Amartya Sen and The Political Economy of Hunger Volume 3: Endemic Hunger. We have seen that this book is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary analysis of hunger in its various forms and dimensions. We have seen that this book challenges the conventional views that hunger is mainly caused by food scarcity or population growth, or that it can be solved by increasing food production or distribution. Instead, this book argues that hunger is largely a result of social, economic, political, and institutional factors that affect people's access to food and other basic resources. We have also seen that this book develops several key concepts and frameworks to understand and address hunger, such as entitlements, capabilities, and criteria for measuring hunger. We have also seen that this book provides a wealth of empirical evidence and case studies to illustrate and support its main themes and arguments. Finally, we have seen that this book offers a range of policy implications and recommendations to address hunger in its various forms and dimensions.


Why is this book relevant and important today?




This book is relevant and important today because hunger is still a major challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. Despite the progress made in reducing poverty and improving living standards, hunger remains a persistent and pervasive problem that affects millions of people in both developing and developed countries. Moreover, hunger can have serious implications for global peace, security, and sustainability, as it can fuel conflicts, migration, and environmental degradation. Therefore, it is essential to understand and address hunger in its multiple causes and consequences, as well as in its human rights and justice dimensions.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Jean Dreze, Amartya Sen and The Political Economy of Hunger Volume 3: Endemic Hunger.


Q: When was this book published and how many pages does it have?


A: This book was published in 1991 by Oxford University Press. It has 448 pages.


Q: Who are the target audience and the main objectives of this book?


A: The target audience of this book are researchers, policymakers, practitioners, activists, and students who are interested in the issues of hunger, poverty, development, and human rights. The main objectives of this book are to provide a comprehensive and interdisciplinary analysis of hunger in its various forms and dimensions, to challenge the conventional views and assumptions about hunger, to develop new concepts and frameworks to understand and address hunger, to provide empirical evidence and case studies to illustrate and support the analysis, and to offer policy implications and recommendations to address hunger.


Q: What are the main differences between famine, chronic malnutrition, food insecurity, and hidden hunger?


A: Famine is a severe and widespread shortage of food that leads to mass starvation and death. Chronic malnutrition is a long-term condition of inadequate nutrition that affects physical and mental development. Food insecurity is a situation of uncertainty or inability to access sufficient and nutritious food. Hidden hunger is a form of malnutrition that results from micronutrient deficiencies such as iron, iodine, vitamin A, or zinc.


Q: What are some of the current challenges and opportunities for addressing hunger in the world?


A: Some of the current challenges for addressing hunger in the world include the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted food systems and livelihoods; the climate change, which has increased the frequency and intensity of natural disasters and extreme weather events; the conflicts and violence, which have displaced millions of people and disrupted food production and distribution; the inequality and discrimination, which have excluded and marginalized many groups from accessing food and other resources; and the lack of political will and commitment, which have hindered the implementation of effective policies and programs to combat hunger. Some of the current opportunities for addressing hunger in the world include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have set a global agenda and targets to end hunger by 2030; the technological innovations, which have improved food production, processing, storage, and delivery; the social movements and campaigns, which have raised awareness and mobilized action to fight hunger and defend human rights; and the international cooperation and solidarity, which have fostered partnerships and alliances to share resources and best practices to address hunger.


Q: Where can I find more information or resources about this book or this topic?


A: You can find more information or resources about this book or this topic on the following websites: - The World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER): https://www.wider.unu.edu/ - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP): https://www.wfp.org/ - The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): http://www.fao.org/home/en/ - The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI): https://www.ifpri.org/ - The Hunger Project: https://thp.org/





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