It’s never pretty when political leaders start to squabble and shift blame, but that’s the scene this week, at least where American-Indian relations are concerned. President Bush said that rising food prices are the byproduct of developing countries such as India, where a burgeoning middle class is “demanding better nutrition and better food.”

According to an article in the New York Times, Indian officials and newspaper op-eds condemned the President, saying the United States is responsible “many times more” than India for the world food crisis, pointing out that the average American uses more resources than the average Indian. The Times article has a fascinating graphic that shows consumption rates of food staples in the U.S., Europe, India, and China (yes, the American appetite for corn is out of control).

It seems the pols are now trying to keep themselves in check, but it was looking nasty there for a while. Indian trade and consumer advocate Pradeep S. Mehta said that if only overweight Americans would slim down to the weight of middle-class Indians, “many hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa would find food on their plates,” and even suggested that “money spent in the United States on liposuction to get rid of fat from excess consumption could be funneled to feed famine victims.”

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