Skip to main content

India's food security law is against WTO norms, distributes "highly subsidized" food to 67% population: UNDP

By Our Representative
In what may sound music to the ears of the Narendra Modi government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has warned India that the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, promulgated by the previous UPA government, saying that it has put India at loggerheads with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
A highlighted sub-section titled “WTO and India’s national development policies” of the chapter “Transforming global institutions” in the UNDP’s “Human Development Report 2016” says, the “right to food” is the “biggest ever food safety net programme, distributing highly subsidized food grain (61 million tonnes) to 67% of the population.”
However, it warns the report, “The scale of buying grain from poor farmers for sale to poorer consumers put India at risk of violating its WTO obligations in agriculture”, insisting, WTO members “are subject to trade sanctions if they breach a ceiling on their agricultural subsidies.”
Pointing out that “the method of calculating the ceiling is fixed on the basis of 1986–88 prices and in national currency, an unusually low baseline”, the report states, “This clear asymmetry in international rules reduces national space for development policy.”
Says the report, “India, as other developing countries, did not have large agricultural subsidies when the rules were originally agreed”, adding, “The act – which aims to stave off hunger for 840 million people and which can play a pivotal role in the UN agenda to end hunger everywhere – is being challenged.”
The reason for the challenge is, says the report, “it raises India’s direct food subsidy bill from roughly $15 billion a year to $21 billion”, adding, “In comparison, the United States increased its agricultural domestic support from $60 billion in 1995 to $140 billion in 2013.” 
“The matter has not been resolved, except for a negotiated pause in dispute actions against countries with existing programmes that notify the WTO and promise to negotiate a permanent solution”, the report states.
The warning comes despite the fact that, on a scale of 1, UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) for India is found to be 0.625, ranking the country No 131st among 185 countries. However, calculated by taking into account inequality, the Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) is 0.443, suggesting a loss of 29.2%, ranking the country 131st among 179 countries.
Arrived at on the basis of different types of inequalities, the report states, the report calculates human inequality coefficient to be 26%, inequality in life expectancy at birth 24%, inequality in education 29.4%, and inequality in income 16.1%. Further, the report finds there is a gender gap in the HDI of males and females – it is 0.549 for females and 0.671 for males.
UNDP says, “The international agenda should be to set rules to expand trade in goods, services and knowledge to favour human development and sustainable development goals”, insisting, “The key reforms to advance this agenda include finalizing the WTO’s Doha Round, reforming the global intellectual property rights regime and reforming the global investor protection regime.”
Underlining that “multilateral and bilateral organizations determine the main rules and standards” in this report, UNDP says, “For trade in goods and services the WTO is the main standard-setting entity: Member countries are bound by its norms.”

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.