Sonia Gandhi’s letter to Prime Minister

Two years achievement?

This massive import?

This government seems to have lost steam and might drive the country into an irreversible trend!  Sonia Gandhi chose to write to the Prime Minister and places it on record on his moves to enter into a free trade agreement with the Asian countries.  The PM already seems to be getting isolated within the power structure and the Cabinet too. He seems to be operating within his own chosen coterie of officials and every major decision seems to be taken behind the back of his own colleagues. Sonia Gandhi’s letter now only exposes him to the charge of neglect of the country’s vital interests. That Mrs.Gandhi chose to write to him, and that too the letter has got leaked to the press shows that there is a gap developing in the relationship and the trust between the two.

Given Mrs.Gandhi’s extreme propensity for secrecy for herself, for her own style of functioning and for hurting Dr.Singh so much to the annoyance of her own more senior and perhaps much more competent, competent politically and otherwise, of men like Pranab Mukerjee and Arjun Singh and others, the letter, for the first time in the two years of the government and that too with a subject that concerns the vital interests of Indian farming community makes all the more significant.

Considering the geo-strategic importance of food security for a large country like India, with a vast market and that too in the current context of our liberalisation measures and the WTO obligations for us to open up our economy, the first top most priority, in our well-considered opinion and also we believe in the vast sections of public opinion making, media, academia, the various expertise bodies that impinge on agriculture and strategic policy making bodies, our food security must be the first priority before we open our economy for trade and other imports.

We have only to just look at the developed and strong economies. See the USA,EU and the Japanese and even the South American economies like Brazil. They first and foremost protect their farming sector. They keep their economies basically as strong agriculture powers, besides any other considerations.

Given American farm lobby’s clout, American farmers, wheat, cotton and soya farmers enjoy huge subsidies, America has a strategy of paying its cotton farmers almost 50 per cent by subsidy and thereby the US sees to it that the African cotton growers (Mali for instance)get a cotton price that is higher than the US cotton! Also US indulge in foreign aid that effectively keeps African farmers families in perpetual poverty! Rather the Africa cotton production would remain uncompetitive! Under the US farm bill, US cotton farmers receive about US 0.70 dollar per pound, in comparison with a world cotton price of around US 0.40 dollar per pound.

The same kind of tactics would be adopted in the case of India too. Once you start importing wheat from the US then the US strategy would see to it that you are tied down by various stratagems!

We are sure Mr.Kamalnath, the Commerce Minister is fully aware of this type of US farm policy strategy, even if not Dr.Singh or the FM! Wheat import from the US is an extremely sensitive issue and we hope we need not play up the issue further. We only hope that Mrs.Gandhi sees the political implications. That is why perhaps she sought to put her view on record, though the PM and FM, the two don’t have any political base and that is why they go ahead with their own expertise!

So, we feel deeply hurt and let down by the Singh government in resorting to importing such a large quantity of wheat just without any debate or making the country mentally prepared for such  drastic ,almost secretive action.  We, in this magazine, also wrote to Mrs.Sonia Gandhi a letter directing objecting to the import of wheat  when the first news broke out.
We are not sure whether she saw our letter for she has no method of replying to  letters, in spite of her enjoying the status of the  chairperson of the National Advisory Council. May be the way governance is practiced now in Delhi had changed.

Why then there is no response from the public? On such sensitive matters like food imports? May be the Singh government is also accustomed to such neglect of the public anxieties and queries. That is why such a big issue like sudden resort to large scale import of wheat and that too when at as high as 200-234 dollars per tonne!

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