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INDIA: While the Paddy Ripens

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In the paddy fields of Bengal, the December rice crop is lush and full. But while it swells, the stricken Bengal peasant sits mutely on his doorstep. He is too benumbed by famine to reap the paddy.

In Bengal’s capital, Calcutta, thousands are still dying of hunger. Grim, hardworking men of Auchinleck’s Army, aided by official and private agencies, belatedly distribute what food they can get. It does not add up to much—half a pound of grain per mouth per day. Many thousands of Indians, because of debility and disease, are beyond such help. But last week an improvement was noticed: famine deaths in Calcutta had fallen from over 200 to about 100 daily.

Unless the December paddy is harvested, the improvement will be only temporary. Spokesmen for the Army and the British Central Government are aware of this fact. But, caught in an intra-government maze of both British and Indian making, they feel that they should help with the harvest only if they are asked. So far, the Bengal Provincial Government has not asked. The life-giving paddy ripens—and waits.

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