Former IFS officers voice support for farm laws


A statement with 20 signatories asks developed countries “not to be on the wrong side of history” in the backdrop of increasing international statements in favour of farmers protests.

A group of former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers released an open letter asking developed countries “not to be on the wrong side of history” in the backdrop of increasing international statements in favour of farmers’ protests. “Sustainable agriculture demands that farmers adopt the latest technology to diversify their production, and the farm laws passed by the government is a step in this direction,” the former IFS officers said, while backing India’s provision of minimum support price, something criticised by developed countries as an unfair practice.

In a statement with 20 signatories, all former IFS officers, have decried attempts to disrupt India’s sovereign prerogatives. “Obviously, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. The balance between market forces and food security/famers’ welfare is a delicate one and it is the sovereign prerogative of governments to strike that balance,” says the statement.

 

The 20 signatories to the statement included Ajay Swarup, Mohan Kumar, Veena Sikri, Vishnu Prakash and J S Sapra.

They stated that in the post-COVID future of sustainable agriculture and food security, there is an opportunity for the U.S., the European Union and the U.K. along with 19 members of the Cairns Group to end the double standards that have skewed global production and markets. Cairns Group is a coalition of agriculture produce exporting nations.

WTO and agriculture

The former IFS officers also criticised various aspects of the World Trade Organisation agreement on agriculture, saying it was born out of a bilateral deal between the two biggest subsidy-providers in farming, the U.S. and the EU, in 1992.

The WTO agreement on agriculture is characterised by democratic deficit and based on commercial realpolitik, they added.

“India will gradually and incrementally allow the market to decide prices of agricultural produce, not because of the WTO or because the developed countries are saying so, but because it is in the fundamental interest of the Indian farmers and will enable the latter to double their income,” the statement said.

 

The WTO under the leadership of developed countries will be failing in its duty if it does not amend the agreement on agriculture that facilitates the developing and least-developed members to achieve the sustainable development goal of ending hunger and securing food security, it added.

“Developed countries led by the U.S., EU and the Cairns Group have an opportunity to be on the right side of history here. They must support the efforts of developing and least developed countries even while agreeing to amend the WTO Agreement on Agriculture to accommodate the legitimate demands of the developing and the least developed countries,” the statement further read.

The former IFS officers’ statement has come in the backdrop of several international personalities, including celebrities, activists and law-makers, supporting the ongoing farmer unions’ agitation near Delhi against the three farm laws and criticising the government’s decision to cut off Internet in the affected areas.

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