" Hardly two months after enacting the Food Security Act 2013 , Government of India, without consulting the Parliament which has enacted the law, has committed to WTO that the law would be enforced for 4 years only. Former Secretary to GOI, Mr.EAS Sarma writes on this subject to Sonia Gandhi"
Smt Sonia Gandhi
Indian National Congress
Dear Smt Sonia Gandhi,
Subject: – India’s stand at ensuing Bali session of WTO is an affront to
National Food Security Act, 2013 enacted by the Parliament
The National Food Security Act, 2013 enacted by the Parliament on September 12, 2013 is a progressive law aimed at ensuring the supply of nutritious food to millions of low-income groups of the population. The law emerges from the right to nutritious food and right to live, a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.
When the law was enacted by the Parliament, the leaders of INC tried to draw political mileage by saying that it was the Congress that spearheaded the initiative to introduce the law.
Hardly two months after its enactment, this Act that truly belonged to the Parliament has come under a serious threat as a result of UPA government’s haste in making commitments to WTO prior to the Bali session of the world organisation scheduled to take place in December this year.
Apparently, under pressure from the developed countries, the government has caved in to agree to a 4-year “peace clause” (see enclosed report), tacitly accepting the latter’s contention that food subsidy is a “market distorting subsidy” and limiting the grant of the subsidy to a time frame of four years. In other words, when the Parliament of this country has provided a permanent statutory foundation for food security as a fundamental right, the UPA executive has bowed down before WTO and
introduced a time limitation, a concept not envisaged by the Parliament. In a way, it amounts to holding the Parliament in contempt and defying a fundamental right of the citizen provided in the Constitution. There cannot be anything more bizarre than this.
It is ironic that India should initially lead 46 developing countries in WTO to press the argument that the concept of food security should be deemed to be outside the world organisation’s protocols on free trade, but quietly cave in to the pressures exerted by the developed countries to discard that argument overnight. In the process, the UPA government has literally questioned the sovereignty of the Indian Parliament and the applicability of the Indian laws.
If the benefits of the food security law were to last only four years, it would inevitably lead one to the conclusion that UPA has enacted the law only to gain political mileage for the coming elections and not with any commitment to the need to provide nutritious food to the low-income groups.
I am marking this letter to all political parties and Parliamentarians so as to generate a debate on the stand that the government should take before WTO, when the Parliament itself has enacted a law.
Former Secretary to GOI