NEW DELHI, December 1, 2013
Updated: December 1, 2013 02:03 IST
Farmers’ panel urges PM not to accept Peace Clause
The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement on Friday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to accept at the ninth World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting the ‘Peace Clause’, which is a time-bound immunity against penalty for breaching the 10 per cent ceiling on farm subsidy provided to developing countries like India. The panel comprises farmers’ groups in various States and State units of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.
“It is sad that the United Progressive Alliance government, in a hasty move, agreed for this temporary reprieve instead of holding to its original position for a permanent solution through changes in the Agreement on Agriculture [AoA], i.e. allowing such subsidies under the green box, which contains no conditionality on subsidy limits. This would have removed the imbalance in the AoA, whereby the developed countries have the flexibility to provide high subsidy directly to their population in the form of food stamps, but developing countries are unable to meet similar objectives,” the committee said in a letter written to Dr. Singh.
“By accepting the ‘Peace Clause’, India may help with the deal on Trade Facilitation and the successful end of the WTO Ministerial in Indonesia, but the Congress-led UPA will be condemned for compromising price support system (or minimum support price) which provides livelihood support to millions of subsistence farmers and ensures adequate food production for public stockholding essential to run the food security programme in India, home for one third of world’s hungry population,” the letter said.
“As an eminent economist, it must be clear to you that India can ensure food security only by supporting both production and consumption. Weakening the production, as the ‘Peace Clause’ is bound to do, will not help food access. The Indian government has to defend its right to freely procure food from 600 million farmers and get it across to its 870 million hungry people in the country,” the letter said.
It said that the European Union and the United States interest in the WTO were to get market access in developing countries, while at the same time protect their farmers and agri-business through doling out huge subsidies. “In the last 18 years of the WTO regime, the U.S. and E.U. have not fulfilled any of their commitment on reduction of their subsidies, rather, are openly continuing their domestic subsidies as well as export subsidies.”
The letter is in a series of protests expressed by political parties, former bureaucrats and civil society groups in the country in the run-up to the Bali ministerial beginning on Tuesday.
KRRS slams WTO’s cap on food subsidies
Accuses the world body of pressuring India to revoke Food Security Bill
Wealthy nations through World Trade Organisation (WTO) are trying to pressure India to either withdraw or dilute its Food Security Bill, working president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha K.T. Gangadhar has said.
The WTO has fixed the caps on the food subsidies and minimum support price (MSP) of its member nations on the directions of United States of America (USA) and the European Union. It is the right time for India to reconsider its ties with WTO, he said at a State-level seminar on social justice held at Dr. Ambedkar Bhavan in the city on Friday.
He said that, the below poverty line (BPL) families as well as the small and marginal farmers will be benefited from Food Security Bill. The Bill was a major step towards the alleviation of poverty and hunger. If the Bill was implemented, the amount India spends on food subsidy would breach the cap fixed by WTO. The issue will come for discussion during the ninth Ministerial conference of WTO that will be held in Indonesia next month, he said.
The cap on food subsidy fixed by WTO was inhuman and it should be opposed. The policies of WTO were against the interests of the poor and the marginalised. By pressurising for withdrawal of the Food Security Bill passed by the Indian Parliament, the WTO has shown disregard for democracy.
He stressed on the need to mobilise a strong public opinion against the policies of WTO.
He said the socio-economic disparities in India were widening owing to the liberal economic policies. The Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and the Backward Class were not benefited in any manner from economic liberalisation, he said.
He said the Dalit and peasant movement in Karnataka should rework their strategies to face the challenges posed by the forces unleashed by economic liberalisation and globalisation. Rather that resorting to extreme measures, the Dalit and peasant organisations should adopt Constitutional and legal means to get their demands fulfilled, he said.
The political parties try to come to power by issuing false promises to the voters. The social activists should carefully study the election manifesto of the political parties and create awareness among the voters on them, he said.
The programme was organised by Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS). Convener of DSS H. Rachappa, social activists Mallesh Harihar, Shivananda Kugwe, Somashekhar Shimoggi and Rajappa Mastar were present.