Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Indians First

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

The abstaining of ratification of the WTO trade talks by Indian government is not brazen nor against the global trade initiatives. The new government under Narendra Modi simply said India and Indian first, and then only they will ratify any agreements that leads to betterment of trade options. The current government's involvement with the agreement is limited as they just got into power at the center and had little inputs into the agreements prior to its taking office. Although power is handed from one government to the next is seamless in India, the objectives of the government in power can be distinctly different. The current government refraining from the ratification of the WTO agreements with a simple objective of India and Indians first is commendable. While it sounds absurd to hold off on ratification of a WTO initiative that has just about every nation on the band wagon, India holding off with the stated objective of India's grain safety as the primary concern for it's holding off on signing on to the global agreement.

The rest of the developed world (the definition of developed is simply industrialized) is raising alarm about India not signing up to the WTO agreement, there is not a whole lot of opposition from Indians and also several heavily populated nations. Was this an expected argument by the USA and others who want India to sign up to the agreement? The answer is perhaps yes, if the Congress lead government came back into power for the third straight term in India. The Modi lead government has not had a lot of time to make major international advances and although its stated objectives in the election manifesto are clear, the WTO agreement might not have been high on its getting elected manifesto, and if today the Modi government simply asks for more time to think about the implications of signing up to a WTO agreement, and also states Indians first; there is no doubt that the countrymen will have to agree and embrace the objectives of such decision by the government.

For the global audience the news simply will relay that Modi has decided not to sign the WTO agreement, and this essentially kills the entire effort of a trillion dollar agreement for countries that are under the agreement. For whatever it is worth the trillion dollar deal will typically benefit the developed nation, and the yet to develop nations typically bear the brunt of the demand for dollars on their economies.

The abstaining of the agreement at this stage will disappoint the major players, no doubt will leave the WTO itself in self doubt. Can they do it without India, yes then can, but the size of India’s population certainly matters to the rest of the world. They can still go ahead and ratify the WTO agreement, and wait for India to join them as India feels appropriate. There is definitely important for the entire association of countries, including India to agree to the current framework, and without India signing on to the agreement, it falls apart.

Just a couple of weeks ago BRICS countries agreement a bank with equal partnership between the five nations. The formation of such bank covers almost 2/3 of the global population and the interest of those people. The immediate word from the rest of the countries outside of BRICS nations was that the role of world bank essentially gets eliminated with the formation of BRICS bank. Two basic issues to the address on the formation of BRICS bank and possibility of elimination of world bank or its role with developing nations.

  1. Formation of BRICS bank addresses the needs of the member countries and their specific developmental needs. The five countries essential with almost 2/3 of the global population will have direct and unbiased involvement with their own investment and development needs.
  2. World bank in current style of function serves as a conduit for developed nations with certainly specific agenda to push their aspirations and management in controlling the activities of the bank. The big brother syndrome exists in functioning of the world bank and the nations that controlling the funding and management certainly want the beneficiary countries to tow their line; politically and philosophically.

WTO and World Bank were found with noble intentions of helping with trade and banking to the needy and help developing countries compete and trade efficiently and effectively with the rest of the world. Their style of functioning and work across the world is commendable and has yielded positive results to millions of people. While the original intentions of both WTO and WB are noble and humanitarian, the developed nations which contributed to the majority of funding to run these organizations also continue to want to influence their agenda on receiving nations. It is expected that the investments were being made to open markets for their goods and services and also push political agendas. From the 1900 through the two world wars, and the communist rule, the formation of the WB and ATO along with UNO was a well timed and well advised enterprise to handle the global situation at the time and the needs of that time.

It is perhaps the time to rethink about the global needs and how to cater to the demands of a population that is exponentially larger and the Geo political issues exponentially complex in today's world. There will always be a need for maintaining peace, fostering trade and lending a helping hand, it simply is time for rethinking how to handle it. At the same time Modi's government taking the stance of Indians first is also commendable.

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