Pointing out that nearly one out of seven Americans face food insecurity, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz said here on Thursday that by recognising the right to food as a basic human right, India is leading the way for the rest of the world.

“India has recognised the right to food as a basic human right, leading the way for the rest of the world, and is on the verge of a historic implementation of the world's largest social protection programme against hunger,” Professor Stiglitz said delivering an address at the 46 convocation of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI).

Citing the work of fellow Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, he said “hunger is not caused by an absolute shortage of grain, but by the lack of income of those in poverty to get access to it.”

While one out of seven Americans today are on food stamps, almost an equal number still faces food insecurity, he pointed out ruing that “while India debates about whether there should be basic economic rights, like the right to food, such debates are still not part of the discourse in America.”

Speaking about the challenges that lie ahead for India, Professor Stiglitz said that while the country prided itself on its democracy, “can there be real or meaningful democracy with the large economic divides that are emerging today in the U.S. and elsewhere, where the wealthy use their money to have an undue influence in shaping perceptions and beliefs, and thus the outcome of the electoral process?”

“Too much of the world has been in pursuit of what I have called GDP (Gross Domestic Product) fetishism – the belief that development is simply the increase in GDP,” he said.

The assessment of the success or failure of programmes should not only depend on their impact on GDP or income, but on broader measures of well-being, he added.

More In: National | News