Read BBC on Rat Farming: August 13, 2008 by Amarnath Tewary
Mr Prakash says his proposals to popularise rat meat eating are intended to uplift their social-economic condition.
“There are twin advantages of this proposal. First, we can save about half of our food grain stocks by catching and eating rats and secondly we can improve the economic condition of the Musahar community,” he told the BBC.
According to Mr Prakash, about 50% of total food grain stocks in the country are eaten away by rodents.
He argues that by promoting rat eating more grain will be preserved while hunger among the Musahar community will be reduced. He said that rat meat is not only a delicacy but a protein-enriched food, widely popular in Thailand and France.
Wall Street Journal
Read Old India rejuvenates as IT rivers of gold dry up: April 10, 2009 in Wall Street Journal by Peter Wonacott
In the village of Deve Kuli, in Bihar, India’s poorest and least literate major state, the Mushahar are the poorest and least literate. Most are farm labourers. About one in 10 can read. So impoverished is this group that they hunt field rats to supplement a deprived diet. Mushahar is Hindi for “rat eater”.
But the outlook for the state’s 2 million Mushahar has brightened in the past year.
Thanks to government aid programs, more Mushahar children are attending school. Increased state investment in roads and local factories has put their parents to work. Demand for labourers has pushed up wages for field work.
In a sign of the times, a government proposal to promote rat farming was ridiculed by the Mushahar, the very group of untouchables, or Dalits, it was supposed to benefit. They worried it would pull their children out of school and extend a social stigma to the next generation. Some protested on the streets of Bihar’s capital, Patna, shouting: “We want to learn to use a computer mouse, not catch mice.”
Growth has slowed in the new India of technology outsourcing, property development and securities trade. But old India – the rural sector that is home to 700 million of the country’s billion-plus people – shows signs it can pick up the slack. The rural awakening helps explain why India continues to grow even as the US recession drags on the world economy.
The change is largely political. In years past, many state leaders rode to power with vows to give voice to lower-caste voters. But after failing for the most part to lift living standards, these officials have been replaced in many cases by leaders who have. In poor and largely rural states from Orissa in the east to Rajasthan in the west, many new leaders have invested in health, education and infrastructure. That has set the stage for the creation of industry and consumer markets and enabled upward mobility.
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