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University of Oslo (UiO) (1997)

Freedom from famine : the role of political freedom in famine prevention

Banik, Dan

Titre : Freedom from famine : the role of political freedom in famine prevention

Auteur : Banik, Dan

Université de soutenance : University of Oslo (UiO)

Degree : Master Thesis 1997

Résumé partiel
Freedom from Famine : the role of political freedom in famine prevention Famine, today, is an insult. That people still die on account of famine and famine-related diseases is something that really is quite hard to believe, at first. Yet, time and time again we have witnessed recurrent famines in a number of regions of the world, where entire populations have been violated of thc most basic of all human rights, the right to life. At least on a theoretical plane, famines can be prevented if its exact cause in a given society can be defined and the factors leading to such a situation identified. It is my primary contention in this thesis that the role of the government in putting into effect both long-term preventive and immediate relief measures is crucial if the threat of famine is to be eradicated or controlled. The point of departure ot this thesis is Amartya Sen’s observation that democratic institutions and a free press enable a country to withstand the threat of famines. Basing his analysis on an initial comparison between India and China, Sen argued, in his now famous Coromandel Lecture ( 1982), that independent India has successfully prevented famines due to its democratic political structure. In spite of not being able to guarantee freedom from chronic hunger, famines have been successfully averted as the bureaucracy and civil institutions are able to provide early warnings of impending food crises, and as the political leadership is pressured into taking timely action to prevent such crises from developing into major disasters. In contrast to India, during the period 1958-61, China went through a severe famine where millions perished. Un like India, the dictatorial pol itical system in China was not pressured into prompt and adequate action. There were no opposition parties or independent and vigorously active newspapers to campaign on behalf of the famine affected masses


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