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Title: International posturing amidst domestic neglect? Examining contradictions in India’s Domestic and International agricultural policies
Authors: Gupta, Priyanshu
Babu, Ravindran Rajesh
Issue Date: 1-Oct-2016
Series/Report no.: WORKING PAPER SERIES;WPS No. 788 October 2016
Abstract: The agricultural negotiations at the WTO Doha round signalled the rise of a new India in the global economic governance. India has not only been an active participant by submitting detailed proposals, and building coalitions with other developing country members, it has also not hesitated from taking tough stands that changed the course of overall negotiations. However, this aggressive posturing in international negotiations seems to be at odds with the domestic agricultural policy. Indian agriculture has seen declining public investments and capital formation, limited export orientation, and a primary focus on ensuring food security and price stability for its consumers. The declining influence of agriculture in the domestic political economy is evident from the extensive literature on agrarian distress, and recent sociological and political economic commentaries. This paper analyzes the contradictions between India’s internationally espoused negotiating positions and the domestic agricultural policy goals. It raises several key questions. Why India is unduly interested in the global agricultural trade negotiations and why has it adopted such an aggressive posture? Why has it maintained a protectionist stance despite significant latitude for a more export-oriented agricultural trade policy? What are the drivers for India’s coalition strategy that has often allied India with divergent and often diametrically opposite interests? Why has it chosen to go alone despite an overarching coalition based negotiation strategy? This paper argues that India’s negotiating strategy could be understood as an attempt to preserve the status quo in the domestic agriculture and food economy. It is driven by the domestic political need to provide a substantial quantum of food-based consumption subsidies and manage an assured price and supply protection to its vulnerable consumers. This in itself is at the very core of the domestic political economy where the political legitimacy of the Indian state is achieved by the “governmentality” premised on the idea of providing entitlements and capabilities to the citizens. As a result, India’s interests are divergent from many of its developing country coalition partners in the G-20 as well as the G-33 groups. Despite these divergent interests, India has built up coalitions with both these groups to gain greater clout in negotiations to defend its strategic interests. Our discussion has significant implications for both the domestic policy orientation of the Indian state, as well as India’s role in global trade negotiations once it finds an acceptable solution to its problem of maintaining public stockholding for food security purposes.
Appears in Collections:2016

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