The impacts of climate change are sparking a debate on just what is a "human right"?
Some nations want adequate supply of potable freshwater declared a human right. Not surprisingly that's something supported by countries with severe freshwater threats and dismissed by nations particularly well water-endowed, such as our very own.
India is now debating whether food should be a right guaranteed to all of its people. For India that's not a rhetorical debate. As pointed out in a New York Times article, India's eight poorest states have more people living in poverty than Africa's 26 poorest countries.
For the governing Indian National Congress Party, which has staked its political fortunes on appealing to the poor, this persistent inability to make government work for [the poor] ...has set off an ideological debate over a question that once would have been unthinkable in India: Should the country begin to unshackle the poor from the inefficient, decades-old government food distribution system and try something radical, like simply giving out food coupons, or cash?
The rethinking is being prodded by a potentially sweeping proposal that has divided the Congress Party. Its president, Sonia Gandhi, is pushing to create a constitutional right to food and expand the existing entitlement so that every Indian family would qualify for a monthly 77-pound bag of grain, sugar and kerosene. Such entitlements have helped the Congress Party win votes, especially in rural areas.
These are largely internal debates now but, as our reaction to the water question clearly shows, there's a growing sense of unease among the "haves" to future demands from the "have nots." Do not doubt for a minute that, in a world where the burden of seven billion mouths to feed has already exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet's renewable resources, that faint whisper of calls for redistribution and equitable allocations, is bound to turn into a clamour. It's just a matter of time. And that's when we'll see just what kind of people we Canadians really are.