Sharad Joshi writes to WTO Director General

                                                                                                                                                    SHARAD JOSHI
                                                                                                                                                    Member of Parliament ( Rajya Sabha) 2004 - 2010
                                                                                                                                                   ;National President, Swatantra Bharat Pakhsha
                                                                                                                                                    Angarmala Village & PO: Ambethan;
                                                                                                                                                    Taluka: Khed; District: Pune, Maharashtra, 410501
                                                                                                                                                    e-mail: sharadjoshi.mah@gmail.com

                                                                                                                                                                20 March 2014
To,
Mr. Roberto Azevêdo
The Director General
World Trade Organization
Centre William Rappard,
Rue de Lausanne 154,
CH-1211 Geneva 21,
Switzerland.

Sub: Second spate of farmers’ suicides in India

Dear Mr. Roberto Azevêdo
        I regret to encroach upon your time even though we have never met and never formally introduced. I used to be the Chairman of the Task Force on Agriculture (2000-2001) appointed by the Prime Minister of India to advise him on all matters relating to the World Trade Organization. In that capacity I have had several occasions to meet your predecessor.

        I had pointed out to him the strange situation in India where, contrary to the situation in OECD countries, the farmers are subjected to a very heavy negative Agricultural Measurement of Support (AMS) – negative subsidy. Your documentation on the subject will bear this out.

        I am having to write this to you on the subject because India appears to be on the second spate of farmers’ suicides which amounts due to deliberate genocide the government of India through various measures at its means viz. ban/restrictions on exports, imports in the nature of dumping, ban/restrictions on domestic movement & trade, restrictions on processing etc. of agricultural commodities manages to bring down prices of agricultural commodities to a level much below that prevailing in a hypothetically free International Market.

        The vagaries of monsoons  is not new to Indian farmers. However, this year they are subjected to unusual frailty through strong showers of hailstones. In many regions of the state of Maharashtra hailstorm looked as if there has been a massive spate of snowing. The standing crops in Vidarbha, Marathwada as also Western Maharashtra were destroyed on the spot. The government of India and the government of the state of Maharashtra ought to have taken this as a case of National emergency. However, they have both remained silent spectators to the massive destruction on the pretext that the electoral laws – election code of conduct – do not permit them any kind of a massive action to help the farmers. Since the farmers in India have been subjected to heavy negative subsidies over many many years the farmers in their own turn would be justified to expecting the government to come to their help in times of such calamity. The farmers are responding meekly by helplessly finding some way or other of ending their lives. A similar phenomenon had occurred during the period around the year 2006 where according to government’s statistics over 1,80,000 farmers committed suicides. Suicides is a complex psychological phenomenon which can never be attributed to a single cause. However, this year it is quite obvious that the suicides are almost exclusively due to the incapacity of farmers to repay their loans taken from the money lenders and the cooperative banks and societies. The government’s inertia at a time like this and the fact that in the past it has used every means possible to depress the agricultural prices amounts to a case of calculated genocide though no weapons are used.

        I am writing this letter to you in order to request you to intervene in the matter and come to the help of the farmers in India. You may consider enjoining up on the Government of India to take no measures which will have the effect of depressing agricultural prices and also work out schemes that will adequately compensate the farmers so that not a single farmer is driven, hereafter, to the extreme step of suicide.

        Hoping for a line in reply as also appropriate intervention.
        With regards.

                                                                                                                                                                    Yours sincerely,

                                                                                                                                                                    (Sharad Joshi)

Copy to:
Mr. Anand Sharma
Minister of Commerce
Government of India
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