Ramifications of the Bali Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Public Distribution Schemes:
Is India Skating on Thin Ice?
ABSTRACT: The problem of poverty is an acute one in India. Approximately thirty-three percent of the Indian population live in dire poverty. However, India’s food security and public distribution schemes have been creating an imbalance as far as its international obligations are concerned primarily due to India’s commitment to secure on the one hand, the rights of the poor with respect to food; and on the other hand the rights of the farmers who are highly dependent on the erratic weather conditions of the nation. This thereby makes it incumbent for the nation to guarantee this basic human right to food. However, the relevant provisions of the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture states that such governmental support for the purpose of food security and public stockholding programs shall be no more than the ceiling limit of ten percent has caused some concern for Indian policy-makers. Consequently, it was agreed at the recent Bali Ministerial Conference that by virtue of the peace clause, member-nations of the WTO would not invoke dispute settlement proceedings against a developing nation crossing the 10% mark, until a permanent solution is agreed upon. This paper delves to understand implications of India’s food security and public distribution schemes in the international realm; and thus suggest solutions as far as imbalances are concerned.