Global Effects of Irish Potato Famine
The most significant famine in Irish history still being remembered today around the world.
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Irish famine creates awareness for poverty
24 Sep 2007 | Provo, UT
While researching the Irish Potato Famine of 1840-41, I came across the following article by Kamala Sarup, a writer for the Media for Freedom project. It is very interesting about the connection made with the famine to global poverty, a battle that is still waged today:
"The Irish famine was the result of reliance on the potato as a source of food by the poor, a succession of wet autumns that caused the potato fungus ("blight") to thrive, and British regulations that
prohibited keeping exportable wheat, the "cash crop", in Ireland and prohibiting the import of wheat from American surpluses to support the British and Irish landowners.
Although the fungus appeared throughout Europe, the reliance of the Irish poor exclusively on the potato as a staple made it particularly susceptible to famine. The potato, domesticated by southamerican Indians, thrives in all kinds of environments and provides more calories per acre than any other staple. Therefore, it is not surprising that it was and is cultivated throughout the world. The
Irish used it as their staple and exported their wheat to other countries to obtain foreign currencies for international trade, a policy dominated by England under which the Irish were governed.
Fungi grow best in damp weather and Ireland had experienced blights earlier in its history, but they were not catastrophic. They were warnings of disaster that the British government did not heed.
Otherwise, it could havve taken preventative measures to keep the blight from doing so much damage. However, since most of the Irish land was owned by British (and some Irish) landlords, the policy was to favor them over the peasants.
After the blight occurred, the British government refused to keep the wheat exports in Ireland to feed the people, preferring to keep the money flowing in to the ruling classes. They would not import surplus American wheat because they did not want to incur the expense and run a deficit. Thus, the Irish famine occurred that brought millions to America to seek a better life.
"Of Irish famine, one million died and another one million migrated to the U.S. In the Philadelphia Pen (beach) area there is a moving statue. Half is that of a boat and half of people in Ireland itself.
It depicts poverty and grief. The plaque reads (in the reconciliation fashion) that this is in memory of those who died and suffered and to retell their stories so that generations to come are able to get over
the grief lying so deep within. It was unfortunate that Irish people were dying when the rest of the Europe had food in plenty". Dr. Arul Aram said.
As for poverty in the world today, there is plenty of it. Unfortunately, people born in more favorable environments with ability and motivation will get a big share of the food while those in
less favored environments will go hungry. Governments temper the inequalities somewhat by redistributing income from the rich to the poor, but these efforts do not close the inequality gap sufficiently to prevent poverty. Therefore, there will be continued famines in the world. Fortunately, the socialist governments of the former U.S.S.R. and the current C.P.R. redistributed the surplus and reduced famines in those countries. Some smaller countries have done the same.
Today, humanitarian organizations, such as the U.N., the U.S., and other NGOs redistribute food.
In my opinion, we need to wage war wherever poverty is. Although there may not have been many poor, many more poor people have concentrated in many countries.
Journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup is associated and writes for mediaforfreedom.com. She is specialising in in-depth reporting and writing on Peace, Anti War, Women, Terrorism, Democracy,and Development. Some of her publicationsare:Empowerment in South Asia, Nepal. Prevention of trafficking in women through media,(Book) Efforts to Prevent Trafficking in for Media Activism(Media research). Two Stories collections. Her interests include international conflict resolution,cultural communication,philosophy, feminism, political, socio-economic and literature.Her current plans are to move on to humanitarian work in conflict areas in the near future. She also isexperienced in community development."
It is interesting to see the connection of the past to the future.