P. Sunderarajan

"Big economic powers trying to eliminate national barriers to impose themselves and expand freely"

Hyderabad: Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said here on Tuesday that globalisation was one of the major problems faced by farmers as it prevented them getting remunerative prices for their exports.

Addressing the 93rd session of the Indian Science Congress, he said: "It (globalisation) is an effort of big economic powers to eliminate national barriers to impose themselves and to expand freely with their interests. The new global paradigms respond to the hegemonic interests of the big transnationals in their quest to control world markets. As a result of WTO, Indian farmers are unable to get remunerative prices on export of their agricultural produce and products on account of depressed global prices.''

Near self-reliance upset

He said the near self-sufficiency achieved by the country in oilseeds production following the Technology Mission on Oilseeds was upset by dependence on cheaper vegetable oil imports.

"Between 1996-97 and 2003-04 agricultural imports into India have increased by a whopping 375 per cent in volume and 300 per cent in value terms. It is important to note that the value of imports as proportion to agricultural GDP has also increased from less than three per cent to 4.34 per cent during the same period.''

He also faulted the models of development being propagated globally and said they had given rise to a world of excluded people and an environment of inequality. "The income of one per cent of the richest population of the world equals that of 75 per cent of the poorest. The picture is no different in India. We live in an India, where millions of children suffer from avoidable hunger, disease and pain. The extent of rural poverty is an outrage. And the outrage is not just that of avoidable deprivation; it is also that it coexists with those who are indifferent to the plight of the rural poor. The numbers are mind-boggling and we need to act with speed.''

Institutions criticised

He criticised public funded R&D institutions and the scientific community for not adequately responding to the needs of rural areas. "Professional conditioning of our scientists and technologists tend to build biases of perception and skewed priorities. Such a mindset gives attention to what is urban, industrial, 'high' technology, capital-intensive, appropriate for temperate climates and marketed and exported; to the neglect of what is rural, agricultural, 'low' technology, labour-intensive, appropriate for tropical climates, retained by the household and locally consumed. The national and international system of knowledge and prestige, with their rewards and incentives, draws professionals away from rural areas and up through the hierarchy of urban and international centres.''