Syllabus GS III Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
Analyse India’s demand in exporting its wheat from public stock holding and also examine the challenges .
One of the cardinal demands of India in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and rightly so has been to find a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding (PSH) of food to protect India’s food security (PSH policy).
India’s demand for the waiver of wheat export from public stockholding:
- India’s demand for a permanent solution to the PSH policy has acquired a new dimension.
- India insists that it should also be allowed to export food, most notably wheat, from the pool of the foodgrain procured under the MSP.
- The Russia-Ukraine war has unleashed a food crisis in many countries. India perhaps wishes to capitalise on this opportunity.
- WTO law proscribes countries from exporting foodgrain procured at subsidised prices. There is a sound economic rationale behind it.
- Allowing a country to export foodgrain procured at subsidised prices would give that country an unfair advantage in global agricultural trade.
- The country concerned will sell foodgrain in the international market at a very low price, which, in turn, might depress the global prices and have an adverse impact on the agricultural trade of other countries.
- Accordingly, paragraph 4 of the 2013 WTO decision on PSH for food security purposes, clearly states that countries procuring food for food-security purposes shall ensure that such procured food does not distort trade or adversely affect the food security of other Members.
- The same spirit is reflected in paragraph 10 of the Geneva ministerial food security declaration, which states that countries may release surplus food stocks in the international market in accordance with WTO law.
- The WTO may agree to a temporary waiver to allow the export of wheat from public stockholdings given the ongoing food crisis in some countries.
- The WTO ministerial meeting, India reportedly requested such a waiver. However, it is very unlikely that such a request will be acceded to.
- The history of waivers at the WTO is fraught with huge let-downs. The recently adopted waiver on intellectual property (IP) for COVID-19 medical products is a case in point.
- The IP waiver is restricted to only COVID-19 vaccines and does not cover diagnostics and therapeutics.
- The shallowness of the IP waiver is further reinforced by the fact that it is limited to only patents and does not cover other IP rights.
- As per Article IX.3 of the WTO Agreement, waivers can be adopted only in “exceptional circumstances”.
- The WTO filibustered for two years acknowledging a once-in-a-century pandemic such as COVID-19 as an “exceptional circumstance” for the IP waiver.
Challenges India facing in this issue:
- Developed countries have historically opposed India’s PSH programme as they apprehend that India might divert some of its public stock to the international market, thus depressing global prices.
- While this argument should be taken with a pinch of salt, India actively pushing for exporting food from its official granaries gives fresh ammunition to the naysayers to stick to their guns in opposing a permanent solution to the PSH issue.
- India should revisit its stand on asking for a waiver for wheat exports from its public stockholding, which, in any case, was not a part of India’s PSH policy.
- Besides, as reported, the Government’s wheat procurement has been 57.5% less than the original target for this season.
- Spending scarce negotiating capital on this issue might dilute India’s core agenda of pushing for a permanent solution for its PSH programme to attain the goal of food security and providing remunerative prices to the farmers.
- The laudable objective of helping countries facing food crises can be accomplished by strengthening India’s commitment to the United Nations World Food Programme. Or, if the domestic situation ameliorates, India can lift the ban imposed on private traders to export wheat.
- Negotiations at the WTO require crystal clarity of the core objectives that should be relentlessly pursued. Adding newer objectives and shifting goalposts might result in falling between two stools.
Thus, the possibility of it recognising an ongoing war between two nations as an “exceptional circumstance” to adopt a waiver for permitting wheat exports from public stocks is profoundly remote.
~Source The Hindu
Syllabus GS II Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Discuss India’s involvement in the International North South Transport Corridor(INSTC’s) and also explain India’s Non-alignment to multi alignment stature.
The journey signalled the launch of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200-km multi-modal transport corridor that combines road, rail and maritime routes connecting Russia and India via central Asia and Iran. The corridor is expected to consolidate the emerging Eurasian Free Trade Area.
India’s Involvement in INSTC’s:
- The INSTC’s launch provides missing pieces of the puzzle about India’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- India’s decision had then been explained in terms of its military reliance on Russia, its aim to keep open alternative supplies of precious oil and gas, and a legacy of its non-alignment.
- India’s brewing investment in transcontinental infrastructure, signalled by its involvement in the INSTC alongside Russia and Iran, both of which are subject to sanctions by Western governments.
- The legal framework for the INSTC is provided by a trilateral agreement signed by India, Iran and Russia at the Euro-Asian Conference on Transport in 2000.
- Kazakhstan, Belarus, Oman, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Syria have signed instruments of accession to become members of the INSTC.
- The INSTC is expected to reduce freight costs by 30% and journey time by 40% in comparison with the conventional deep sea route via the Suez Canal.
- The need for an alternative route was deeply felt last year, when the Ever Given container ship was stuck in the Suez, halting maritime traffic between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.
- India’s investment in the INSTC is exemplified by its involvement in Iran’s Chabahar port and the construction of a 500-km Chabahar-Zahedan railway line.
- This infrastructure will allow India access to Afghanistan and central Asia, a prospect strengthened by the Taliban government’s support for the project.
- The India Ports Global Limited, a joint venture between the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust, will develop the port along with Iran’s Aria Banader.
- IRCON International will contribute to constructing the railway line. A special economic zone around Chabahar will offer Indian companies the opportunity to set up a range of industries.
- The INSTC provides an opportunity for the internationalisation of India’s infrastructural state, with state-run businesses taking the lead and paving the way for private companies.
Non-alignment to multi-alignment
- India can now bypass Pakistan to access Afghanistan, central Asia and beyond.
- The INSTC can shape a north-south transport corridor that can complement the east-west axis of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- The launch of the INSTC was overshadowed by the Quad Summit in which the leaders of the Quad re-emphasised the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- The Quad Summit declaration went beyond outlining commitments to freedom, rule of law and territorial integrity to reinforce a central purpose of the collective providing the region with public goods.
- New initiatives designed to deepen cooperation across the region were announced, which encompassed maritime security, climate change and regional infrastructure.
- India’s founding role in both the INSTC and the Quad exemplify its departure from non-alignment to multi-alignment.
- The INSTC offers a platform for India to closely collaborate with Russia, Iran and Central Asian republics.
- That two of its partners are subject to Western sanctions hasn’t prevented India from collaborating with the U.S., Japan and Australia as part of the Quad to create and safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- Indian policymaking in international affairs has often been criticised for its moral indecisiveness, diplomatic reticence and ideological confusion.
- These critics have failed to observe the subtle shifts in Indian foreign policy from non-alignment to multi-alignment.
The INSTC has received far less media attention than initiatives such as the Quad, the BRI and the New Development Bank. As a transcontinental multi-modal corridor that aims to bring Eurasia closer together, the INSTC is a laudable initiative in its own right. That it helps India consolidate its multi-alignment strategy sweetens the deal.
~Source The hindu