S. Mitra Kalita’s column on “A question of duty’s flow”, Mint, 6 July was heart-warming. Industrial growth around metros providing better job opportunities has led people from impoverished homes and those from the middle class to migrate to cities and towns. It has become a continuous process. That’s why Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit mentioned people from UP and Bihar as adding to the Capital’s woes. There is, however, another aspect to this situation. What about the individual who has crossed thousands of miles to carve his destiny? His family life, his relationship with his parents take a back seat due to job pressures. These pressures take their toll on relationships. It is important to find time and connect with the people one loves and cares about.
The article, “Why the trade talks collapsed”, by Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, Mint, 10 July, seems to be biased towards the US. It presents what the US should expect, realistically. It does not talk about what India loses as a result of the failure of the Doha Round and what India could have achieved in the G4 meet.
These multilateral negotiations are not a zero sum game and whatever little comes as a benefit should not be simply discarded because the other party stands to gain more as a result of these negotiations. On the issue of farm subsidies, if the EU shows its willingness to reduce its farm barriers, then why does India not align with the EU and have one more ally in the current round of negotiations? Would that not project the US to be on the “wrong” side and create more pressure on it? The EU’s reducing its farm subsidies will at least be useful in negotiations during the Free Trade Agreement. But what does Kamal Nath want to show by reaching late at the G4 meet and leaving early? After all, these meetings are negotiation games and the one who negotiates more, gets more. Nobody should be discarded as a villain from the beginning of the negotiations. When Nath says he is there to protect the interests of the farmers, he shouldn't mean that he has the right not to listen to anything except what he thinks is right.
The article talks about India’s budget-driven unilateral trade liberalization, but it fails to link the reduction of tariffs with increase in competitiveness of the Indian industry, which has become the backbone of India’s growth story. Competent negotiations are a must for a country to get the most at such forums. Getting something is always better than getting nothing, which is what the failure of the current round of negotiations means. Hope good sense prevails and some bureaucrat in the commerce ministry explains to the trade minister his complete job description.
I was startled to read Mrinal Pande’s defence of Pratibha Patil in “Who is afraid of the real power women?”, Mint, 10 July. Opposing Patil doesn't mean supporting her equally flawed rival. But the skeletons that have tumbled out of her closet are a concern. It is a concern that Patil has been directly or indirectly indicted for the loss of money of people who invested in a bank she founded. Equally dismaying was her speech in which she justified sterilization of persons with hereditary diseases.
I am not a fan of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam but I am proud of the whiff of fresh air he brought to those corridors of stale partisanship and I can only wish that those who follow him will act in a similar manner so that we can continue to be proud of our First Citizen.
As for a woman in Rashtrapati Bhavan, the UPA had many to choose from its own stable? The writer assumes that all the voices of dissent belong to those of a patriarchal bent of mind. One might consider that for many, morality in public life is a deeper concern.
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