"Nichts mehr davon, ich bitt euch. Zu essen gebt ihm, zu wohnen.
Habt ihr die Blöße bedeckt, gibt sich die Würde von selbst."
Friedrich Schiller
  May 2008 FOOD

Indian Agro-Economist Attacs IMF, World Bank and WTO

A leading Indian agro-economist and senior professor in the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Utsa Patnaik, attacked the IMF, World Bank, and WTO as being responsible for bringing millions to the brink of starvation during the ongoing worldwide food crisis. In a recent interview with the Indian bi-monthly, Frontline, of the Hindu Group of publications, she said: "If one looks at the question of food grains (in India), the working of the public distribution system run by the government to provide vital food grains and other bulk food items to the poor at a subsidized price, (PDS) was made possible, between 1965 and 1990, by the phenomenal expansion of food grain production in the country. The moment our entire economic strategy began to be guided by the neo-liberal paradigm, one of the major decisions was to cut subsidies."

She said the financial institutions began targeting this in 1997. "If one looks at the history of targetting in other countries, it becomes clear that it has always been a prelude to winding up of state intervention in procurement. That has been the ultimate aim of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organisation. They specifically say that the state should not intervene to buy and sell at prices other than global prices.

"The WTO agreement on agriculture states that for food security purposes, the government can maintain food stocks but then, at the same time, it says that the government cannot offer farmers prices that are higher than global market prices. Global prices are very volatile. The government's role here is to protect both the farmer and the consumer. The whole rationale of the PDS lies in that," she added.