new internationalist
issue 171 - May 1987



With God on their side
In the past decade, a revival of Protestant evangelism in Tanzania resulted in the baptism of 40,212 converts, 14,409 of them in the past year. Figures like these are mirrored in many Third World states, testimony to the work of record numbers of US and Canadian overseas missionaries. There are now 39,309 Protestants in overseas mission careers, in contrast to the 9,124 North American Roman Catholic missionaries. The Protestants are sponsored by 764 mission boards (the largest being the Southern Baptist Convention) with a combined income of $1,300 million a year.

All these figures are found in the new Mission Handbook, published in February by a unit of the evangelical relief agency, World Vision. And the data points to a sizable increase in activity since the last edition eight years ago.

The escalating evangelism does not come from all branches of the Protestant Church. The mainline denominations affiliated with the National Council of Churches and the Canadian Council of Churches, as well as the United Methodist and Presbyterian churches have seen a 'precipitous decline' in overseas staff, according to the Handbook, to less than half their 1960s level. The expanding Evangelical and Fundamentalist boards have all but taken over this work.

The mainline denominations have decided to send more cash and fewer people. American missionaries overseas cost a lot of money. So it is cheaper as well as more sensitive to national feelings to send support to local workers in indigenous churches. National Council of Churches head Rev. Cogswell also stresses that quality is more important than quantity and charges that conservative fundamentalist missionaries often 'brainwash' people with a 'very American interpretation' of the Gospel.

From Time magazine Feb. 16 1987


Dirty dozen
[image, unknown] Heinz of 57 varieties fame have decided in the US not to use any ingredients in their foods that have been sprayed with the so-called 'dirty dozen' pesticides. These are the highly toxic varieties with particular dangers including 2,4,5-T, aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, parathion, paraquat and DDT. All are under investigation by US authorities, and Heinz US believes using ingredients which have been in contact with such poisons would be incorrect.

The International Pesticides Action Network comprising non-government groups from 16 countries has called for a world-wide ban on the manufacturing, sale, use or trade of the dirty dozen.

No doubt the Heinz US decision is because of the growing sensitivity of Americans towards food products which may contain carcinogenic chemical residues. Unfortunately the company's sensitivity towards a spirited and educated American consumer movement is not reflected by Heinz subsidiaries in other countries possibly where consumers are more docile.

Information from International Agricultural Development Vol 7 No.1987


Bollywood facts
No, not a misprint, 'Bollywood' is Bombay's Hindi language movie industry. Pertinent facts:

  • It is the world's most prolific cinema industry - with a thousand feature films in 1985.
  • About 75 million Indians a week go to the cinema, paying an average of 35 US cents for the privilege.
  • The average official budget for a feature is $300,000. The real budget, including illicit money from the underground economy, is more like $600,000.
  • 65 per cent of films fail to recover their investment, 25 per cent break even; but 10 per cent make substantial profits.
  • India's greatest hit film Solay (Hindi language) earned its producer $20 million at the box office.

From South. No 76. 1987


Brutalizing women
Late last year representatives from 26 Brazilian police stations which specialize in helping women who have been assaulted, had their second national meeting in Brasilia. During 1985 these stations had helped 14,183 women. And from January to May, 1986, 4,850 cases of injury from assault were registered, 2,340 threats of beating, 573 rapes, 17 cases of women being murdered and 42 kidnappings.

Information from Outwrite, Issue 55 1987


Thai militancy
Nestlé has recently been obtaining some more unwelcome publicity for its baby powder milk, Lactogen. Thai newspapers have carried pictures of the cans with a skull and cross-bones warning symbol. This followed a Thai government ban on certain brands of powdered milk imported from Europe, post Chernobyl, because of their high levels of radioactivity. Thai authorities are being harassed by the media about the delays in recalling the powdered milk from the stores, and there are many questions being asked about companies selling in Thailand powdered milk with levels of radiation so high that they could not be sold in Europe.

Against such a background, Nestlé in Thailand halted all Nespray advertising in December, and are gauging the public mood before deciding when and how to resume normal across-the-board promotion.

From Media and Marketing, Thailand 23.12.86, reprinted in Consumer Currents, No.94 1987


Thumbs down
In its year-end analysis of the fortunes of countries in the Third World, The Economist placed Indonesia well up in the 'high risk' category, just behind South Africa. Chile, El Salvador, Vietnam and Zaire. The shock helped a run on the national currency, the rupiah, forcing the foreign exchange market in Jakarta to close for a day.

The rush to buy dollars however, is only one sign of the growing lack of confidence in the Government, to pull the country out of its deepening economic crisis. The amount of foreign exchange earnings needed to pay the interest on overseas loans is now approaching 40 per cent a year. The 45 per cent devaluation of September1986 has not boosted petroleum exports, investment is falling and Western aid is the mainstay of State revenue. Worst of all, moves to end the monopolistic privileges and perks enjoyed by the close relatives and friends of Suharto in the import business are as remote as ever.

In a league table of 50 countries published by The Economist, Indonesia did particularly badly under the heading 'war', obviously because of the conflict in East Timor and West Papua. It chalked up its second worst scores for authoritarianism, illegitimacy of government and the 'staleness' of its style of government Other high scores were for corruption and dependence on a few commodity exports.

From Tapol Bulletin No 79

'The United States has the power to destroy the world but not the power to save it.'
Margaret Mead, American anthropologist, (1901-1978)

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