Saturday, 2 August 2014

India right in rattling the WTO

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were left shell-shocked with India's refusal to sign the trade facilitation agreement (TFA). Prime Minister Modi cited poverty for being the prime reason for refusing to submit autonomy when it come stocking a certain amount of food stock piles. Many members, including Norway, Australia and the USA, demanded that negotiations continue without India. The arguments for the ratification of the TFA were that it would add around $1 trillion to the world economy which would in turn create approximately 21 million jobs globally.

This is where I feel Modi's decision becomes even more impressive. Most average politicians, after hearing the words 'increased jobs', would go on and sign any document - often with short-term electoral gains in their mind. However, Modi should be given credit for not succumbing to this. Poverty and food security for not only India's poors, but the world's poor were taken into consideration when India refused to ratify the TFA. The $1 trillion and 21 million jobs figure that is being clogged down politicians throats, does anyone really now who will be the beneficiaries?

Don't get me wrong, I am not against private enterprise, ownership, trade or business. Although, I am a bit doubtful that the majority of the 21 million jobs that are supposedly going to be created with this deal will get to 'eat' the majority of the $1 trillion cake. The forces, I believe, that are working the diplomats in the WTO to push this deal are the same forces that aim to gain access to a larger supply of food grains which will in turn make it cheaper for them to produce your generic, chemically intoxicated sugar-coated cereals and chocolate bars. I have great regard for politicians who don't succumb to the standard 'jobs' and 'economy' trap. Modi, despite his business and tech savvy image, seems to have good intentions and aims to produce legislations that are sustainable and long-term in nature that will benefit the marginalised, and not merely to create hollow temporary jobs.

Even though India has not fully pulled of the TFA negotiations, we can now with certainty say that the next round of discussion, unless other members move on without India, will have the interests of the poor around the world in mind. Even though the middle-class might face slightly more expensive food prices in the future, India, if negotiations go their way, should be able to have increased autonomy when it comes to food grains supply which will ensure or at least help achieving food security for our poor. Developing countries must recognise the bold step that Prime Minister Modi has taken and rally behind him. In turn, developed nations must emphasise and realise that developing countries which have large poor populations, need certain breathing space when it comes to securing food supply. Lastly, to all member states that plan to move ahead without India, all I can say is that it is futile to view India merely as a single member state. It is after all the home of one sixth of the human race.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Media missed the point with Modi's SAARC invite

Past few days, media have been fixated with whether Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the swearing in of Prime Minister designate Sh. Narendra Modi or not. There are two important issues that need to be cleared up here:

1) It doesn't matter whether Prime Minister Sharif attends or not - even though it has been hilarious to witness Sh. Modi putting him into a pickle with just an invite.

2) Media has missed a golden opportunity to educate the general public about the significance of SAARC, which stands for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

The media must consider reviewing its coverage regarding the invite. Their focus on Pakistan's attendance, in my opinion, has stained their credibility and made news coverage seem like recordings of the gossip that takes place in a 'kitty party'. Who is coming? Why won't they come? Will they send someone in their place?

The invite from Modi, generally speaking of course, was a prudent move. Given that BJP's election campaign was chiefly run on development and economic growth, it signals out to the world that South Asia is no longer willing accept poverty, corruption, terrorism and filth - or at least that's what the media could have suggested. If only they had the will to research the principles of SAARC, the potential partnerships, common visions and goals and areas where India could establish its influence and project soft power. Instead, it focused on who is attending or not.

This election was perhaps the most covered Indian election around the world. Even here in Gothenburg, Sweden from where I am currently writing this blog post, the elections were mentioned several times in our local newspapers. In other words, the swearing in ceremony is something that will be followed from all over the planet. Our intellectuals and new editors should have projected this as a potential event for South Asia, headed by India, to fulfil its potential and present itself to the world that we are ready to enter into a new age of development, prosperity and peace.

/Arjun