Professor M.D. Nanjundaswamy is president of Karnataka Rajya Sangha, a group that has been in the forefront of opposition against the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round in India. This interview was excerpted with permission from The Telegraph.
Multinational Monitor: In which areas will India suffer under the Uruguay Round?
M.D. Nanjundaswamy: Countries like India would suffer in all sectors. Not only in the agriculture sector but also the industrial and service sectors. As a farmers' organization, we took up the issue of intellectual property rights (IPR) because for us, it is the most important issue in the entire agreement.
Agriculture was included in the GATT negotiations for the first time in the Uruguay Round. And for the first time, IPR was introduced to agriculture. We look at this exercise of GATT as the last effort at survival of an otherwise collapsing capitalist system.
Industrialized countries were steeped in recession and were groping in the dark, trying to search for a sector which does not face recession at any point of time. That was food. So they are trying to gain control over world affairs by controlling the food sector.
That is exactly the reason why they wanted agriculture to be included in GATT negotiations and brought under IPR. They want to have control over farmers by controlling the production and distribution of seeds. They will control the seeds by patenting them. They want to convert countries like India into markets for their agricultural surplus.
MM: What about the impact on pharmaceuticals?
Nanjundaswamy: Under the new IPR regime, not only pharmaceuticals but whatever scientific research we are trying to develop will be affected. In the pharmaceutical sector, the prices of medicines will be so high that the Indian people will not be able to afford even ordinary drugs.
MM: You talked about capitalism being on the verge of collapse. On the contrary, hasn't the collapse of communism given capitalists a chance to gloat over its spoils?
Nanjundaswamy: I attribute the collapse of the Soviet Union to the economic policies it pursued. Russia neglected its food security and became dependent on food imports. That is the single major reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union, apart from doctrinal defects. Countries like India will face a similar fate when the new GATT regime comes into force.
MM: What are your comments on the argument that it is better to be part of GATT than staying out of it?
Nanjundaswamy: GATT submits India to a neo-colonialist relationship. We would not be reducing ourselves to a colony of one power, but to that of the G-7 countries. We will be slaves under a collective colonial rule.
MM: But how can India alone reject GATT when 116 other countries are becoming a party to it?
Nanjundaswamy: If 116 other countries are committing a mistake, it does not mean that India should also do so. It can give leadership to a new model of development and a new pattern of relationship. …