WTO is here to stay!
India and farmers have to learn to make a success of WTO!
WTO is a necessary good for the world agriculture. Without our agriculture or for that matter any country’s agriculture goods and services entering into the world trade the concerned agriculture goods and services won’t get the maximum prices. This is the simple basic economic and trade logic. There is in India still lots of ignorance and also lots of prejudices about why WTO? And why not India opts out of WTO?
Even the most knowledgeable among our politicians or the new breed of economic experts and other pretenders don’t think it is their duty to explain to the public, more in particular to farmer’s groups the logic of the WTO and how India and our farming is to gain by working within the WTO mechanism and also bargaining with much tenacity, without giving up our basic historic advantages and basic strengths in our agriculture that we have gained through years of hard strategic independence in ensuring India remains self-sufficient in food needs and also ensure food security, considering our long, bad history of famines and poverty.
Our Prime Minister must tour the country extensively, he must bee seen by the people in remote areas and he must be teaching his economic beliefs more convincingly before the people. Sonia Gandhi must draft a new set of economic adviser, preferably from universities, young and dynamic persons who may be working and living in foreign universities and bring them back and give them decent tenures and assign them the task of explaining the new economic opportunities for India in the globalising era. There is a wrong notion in the minds of some people, the PM and the FM, in particular who often compare India with China do say that India has to learn many things from China. This is a patent folly. What we can learn? China is a Communist dictatorship.
China is a military dictatorship. The President there is also the military commander, unlike in India the President is merely a Constitutional head and who is also only symbolically the Commander of the Armed Forces. So, without knowing how Indian democracy is a totally different political culture, how we derive our Parliamentary democracy from the West minister model, our leaders, not with much political base nor political legitimacy, talk as if China and India are just two big countries and one can learn from the other. Even Russia is troubled by its past legacy. So, India is unique. Even some New Delhi based glossies write editorials saying India should not have joined the WTO in the very beginning, as China joined late and Russia is yet to join etc. This is all simple nonsense!
India is a very different country with a great legacy. That is why every big country in the world is courting India’s opinion on several international issues. This is our democracy’s, our economy’s many new strengths. So, we read with interest that AP Govt. had opened a WTO cell to create awareness among farmers, more so among the state officials about WTO and it impacts on the farmers. So dedicated cell on WTO in the office of the Commissioner of Agriculture is most welcome and we congratulate the Chief Minister Dr.Rajashekar Reddy for some of his plain talk for farmers. Yes, free electricity for farmers, as in TN too, was always grossly misused by farmers. So, the state level board became unviable. What Mr.Naidu achieved in reorganising the APEB must be sustained without any partisan politics’ TN; the partisan politics still had been harming the farmers’ interests as well as the health of the state EB. So, too the AP CM is talking bluntly about how water is over-exploited and water use has to be regulated.
Now as for the WTO cell, it would gather latest information on all WTO negotiations and gather market intelligence and how farmers can benefit by knowing the timely strategies for cultivating and marketing agri/agro goods and services and also would stand to gain by the export opportunities and export strategies. Indian farmers also should know how even in spite of heavy subsidies, their agriculture is also facing the impact of WTO rules and regulations. WTO ensures no country resorts to unethical practices (as USA often does!) to protect its domestic farmers. France, another big developed country with small farmers is now facing domestic unrest! This is because they don’t want to change their 35-hours working week, high wages and also high agri subsidies for their farmers. All this will change now with WTO negotiations moving towards freer trade, more liberal trade etc. India’s opportunities are immense: our costs of cultivation low, we have good climate, our grapes and other frutis, our wines, our vegetables and our spices are competitive and therefore can easily gain more export markets.
It is easy to create opposition. It is difficult, requires statesmanship to give people confidence and a sense of achievement.