Deve Gowda questions G-8 concern for Africa

H.D. Deve Gowda

H.D. Deve Gowda  

Special Correspondent

MANGALORE: The former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda has termed the G-8 countries' "concern" for Africa and other developing countries a mask to conceal a "sow now, harvest later" attitude.

Speaking to The Hindu here on Saturday, Mr. Gowda said India should not be misled just because it has been invited to take part in meetings associated with the G-8 Summit at Gleneagles, but should tread carefully, particularly when the G-8 Summit has called for phasing out agricultural subsidies in the developing countries, especially India. "I hope that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is aware why this call was given by the G-8 in his presence and what the intention is... "

Mr. Gowda said while rich countries including the U.S., Australia and Canada are giving cross-subsidies to their farmers, they are advocating the phasing out of the subsidies in agriculture-dominated economies such as India, which is nothing but "talking through their hats."

He said India should be careful in phasing out subsidies to farmers and should not give in to the G-8 in this regard. It will only be advantageous to countries such as the U.S. where farmers have large holdings and the output is calculated in millions of tonnes. The average Indian farmer is a small farmer and mechanisation and farm output optimisation measures are still in its infancy in the country, he said.

On the $5 billion aid announced for African countries Mr. Gowda said the charter has plenty of ifs and buts, and there are a series of conditions that the African countries may have to agree to. It is an indirect attempt to control the African economies. The G-8 countries also want to deploy peacekeeping forces in many of the African countries and have called for more accountability and credibility on the part of the leaders of those countries, which is all but arm-twisting, he said.

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