Tuesday, September 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Fresh study of WTO agenda

This has reference to the article on WTO agenda "Fresh study of the WTO agenda" by Prof Sucha Singh Gill (July 31). The article in question does not give a true picture of WTO. It has a number of factual errors.

Prof Gill has coined his own nomenclature of some of the agreements. For example for Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), he writes Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights, for dispute settlement body of the WTO, he calls it “grievance redressal mechanism and authority to enforce its decisions and punish the defaulters through measures like cross retaliation”.

According to WTO Agreement Article III, (3) and Article IV (3), a dispute settlement body (DSB) has been established for a common system of rules and procedures applicable to disputes arising under any of its legal instruments. One of the important principles which these procedures lay down is that a dispute should be brought to DSB by the government of a member country for settlement only after efforts to settle it through consultations on a bilateral basis have failed.

To expedite the settlement of disputes and ensure that the establishment of a panel is not delayed by the country against whom a complaint is made, the procedures require DSB to establish the panel, when requested by the complaining country, unless there is a consensus against the establishment of such a panel. A panel normally consists of three persons, unless parties to dispute agree that it should have five persons.


Prof Gill has criticised the AoA especially the large wheat stocks stagnating in the FCI godowns and the correct MSP for the farmers. The fault lies with the food policy of the government and not with the AoA. In the agriculture sector, we have freedom to follow our policies we pursue; it is the industrialised world that is required to follow our policies; it is the industrialised world that is required to bring down its domestic and export subsidies and volume of subsidised exports by January 1, 2001 (six years).

Agreement on agriculture has created a framework for gradually bringing trade in agricultural products under GATT discipline and for liberalising trade in this sector. Almost all tariffs of developed countries have been bound against further increase. In developing and transitional economy countries, the proportion of tariffs that have been bound has risen significantly.

India is suffering because it has not so far passed the Second Amendment to the Patents Act 1970 Bill 1999, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Bill 2000 and Biodiversity Bill 2000 in Parliament resulting in the patenting of Indian bio-wealth by the foreign countries. The fault again lies with our parliamentarians.

Prof Gill says “the formation of the WTO has led to the burial of the international agenda of the developing countries for restructuring the global economy. This agenda was signified by the demand for the creation of New International Economic Order (NIEO).”

Though the benefits derived from the creation of GATT are rarely disputed, the least developed countries (LDCs) do not necessarily embrace GATT because those countries believe the benefits are not evenly distributed.

Prof Gill has referred to the meetings of the UNCTAD held at Geneva (1964), New Delhi (1968), and Santiago (1972). However, he failed to refer to UNCTAD conferences held in Nairobi (1976), Manila (1979), Belgrade (1983), Geneva (1987) and the most important one held in 2001 where the expansion of trading opportunities for developing countries and interrelationship between investment and technology transfers were discussed.

He says, “the international economic order under the WTO does not allow any intervention towards stabilisation and raising of prices of primary products, the main exports of the developing countries.” In fact, the WTO is not so much an assault on our economic sovereignty as it is a challenge to our ability to compete in the global market place. Secondly, the era of non-reciprocity in international trade and economic relations is virtually over.

The developing countries in the next ministerial conference should press for review, repair and reform in the existing agreements where they face difficulties in the implementation of these — Agreement on Agriculture, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, TRIPS, TRIMS and Agreement on Textiles & Clothing. The developing countries should also ensure that social clauses like labour and environment are not included in the agenda. Otherwise, it may also end like a Seattle fiasco.

Col P. K. VASUDEVA, Panchkula

Police power and responsibilities

The editorial "Police power & responsibilities” (Sept 7), quoting the Home Minister's latest assertion on the issue, you have also pleaded "protection of law" for the brave police personnel who acted firmly, but had committed one or two "serious crimes" because "there is a difference between a mistake committed wittingly and unwittingly."

One recalls a famous fable "A wolf and a lamb". The powerful wolf killed the innocent lamb and enjoyed the lunch, after giving a few weak or strong arguments. This story is about the animals living in jungle.

A similar story was told and repeated many times. A man in uniform (i.e powerful) killed a man (i.e innocent) in the interrogation centre and people were asked to digest this crime by reporting that a terrorist was killed in a fierce encounter. No crime is committed according to the rule of the land because that was for the larger interest of the people. "A grateful nation must ignore the follies done without mala fide intentions." Thank God, my countrymen believe in God and seek in Him ultimate justice.

Dr M. B. SINGH, Amritsar



Amnesty or prosecution?

Mr K.P.S. Gill’s comments on Mr L.K. Advani’s statement at Jalandhar (Aug 21) regarding the grant of amnesty were commendable. People still remember vividly those dark days of militancy and terrorism in Punjab when government machinery had collapsed, courts, judges and bureaucracy were in fear. The dictates of terrorists held sway. It was only people like Mr K.P.S. Gill and Mr Sumedh Singh Saini who were able to provide leadership of high quality to defeat the terrorists at their own game.

Terrorists do not have any respect for the law and do not deserve protection under the law and the Constitution. In their case, the normal procedure of criminal law does not work. In a democratic society, law enforcement against terrorism is always at great disadvantage. The police officers and personnel were under extreme pressure, great threat and constant danger to their lives as well as those of their families. They were called upon to protect citizens’ life, property and the nation’s integrity. Those were desperate times and only desperate action would have borne fruit. Indeed, some innocent persons may have suffered because of mistaken identity for which the state must compensate their kin generously.

People like Beant Singh and Mr K.P.S. Gill had indomitable courage, perseverance and their spirit and efforts are comparable to those of Sir Winston Churchill during World War II. Persons of their ilk should not be treated as criminals and prosecuted but must be honoured. If the nation forgets their contribution and work, it is difficult to imagine who would come forward if, God forbid, times like the early 90s were to return.

It is indeed heartening to read in the media that the government as well as the public all over the country want to exonerate the police personnel against whom cases have been instituted. However, officers or other ranks who misused power for their own selfish ends must be dealt with according to law.

BRIJ M. MAHAJAN, Chandigarh

PNB clarification

Apropos the news item “PNB move to shift RO alarms rice millers”, (Sept 8), I wish to state that I have been misquoted by your correspondent. No such statement about the merger of PNB, Regional Office, Ferozepore with Bathinda has ever been given to any Press correspondent. I am pained by the remarks given in the report.

C. M. MAHNA, Sr Regional Manager, PNB, Ferozepore Top


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