Even as intense negotiations between member-countries were on during the concluding day of the WTO’s Nairobi meet to stitch together a deal to open up world trade, a major battle broke out online after the noon deadline (for concluding the meet) on the social networking site Twitter.
Some Twitterati blamed India for attempting to break the talks, while others pointed the finger at the U.S. for causing a deadlock.
Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rejected allegations against India by sending tweets saying: “India blocking WTO?! Disagree ... Need to ensure Indian farmers/Agri interests are safe. Undue haste in pushing select (matters which are) subject of interest (of developed countries) worrying.”
She further tweeted: “A section branding India as blocking the WTO is motivated. My national interest important for me, can’t be the privy of some countries for others to yield on cherry-picked issues ... Engaging positively for an good outcome. Fingers crossed! ... Indian team working positively in all negotiating track. Last night’s negotiations continued till 3 a.m.”
To this, some users said: “stand strong, this country is fully with you.”
Supporters of India on Twitter said the country was battling to save the Doha Round, and that it was standing firm on the issue of protection of poor farmers. They alleged that the U.S. was adamant to bury the Doha Round at Nairobi, a move which they said, was likely to threaten farmers’ livelihood.
Those against India said if India blocked the talks, Africa should freeze imports from India. Some Twitter users alleged that India did not value African partners and wanted the continent to lag behind economically, while others claimed that though Chinese “exploit” Africa, they at least leave behind roads, rails and bridges, while India only ‘takes’ and never ‘gives’.
Another user alleged that the relationship between India and Kenya was parasitic, with India being the parasite and India wanted to keep the relationship that way. But Amina Mohamed, the chair of the Nairobi ministerial conference and Cabinet Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, at a press conference said there was no direct conflict between Africa and India.