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Friday, December 2, 2016
India: UK trade laws have lead to thousands of suicides
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¬†Unfettered free trade policies backed by the British government have led to a crisis in Indian agriculture, spiralling rural debt and an epidemic of suicide among poor farmers, says a new Christian Aid Week report, launched last night. Shocking new research reveals that more than 4,000 farmers have killed themselves in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh since the 'reforms' of a hard-line liberalising regime, in part bankrolled by the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID). This support also involved funding the free market fundamentalist Adam Smith Institute to run a privatising scheme that cost some 45,000 Indian public sector workers their jobs. The revelations are contained in 'The damage done: Aid, death and dogma' - published to coincide with Christian Aid Week 2005 ≠ 15-21 May. The report exposes the devastating impact of unrestricted 'free' trade on poor people in India, Ghana and Jamaica and calls on the British government to end support for such policies. It provides hard evidence of what Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, called 'a naÔve faith in the free market' in his sermon to mark Christian Aid's 60th anniversary last month. In Ghana the report shows how democratic institutions have been subverted by the demands of doctrinaire free market policies, where the International Monetary Fund (IMF), backed by the World Bank, effectively overturned a law to protect poor farmers. In Jamaica it illustrates how increasing numbers of women have been driven to prostitution and drug smuggling by a continuing round of liberalisation that has wrecked their employment opportunities. "This report shows in stark detail the damage that is done to poor people when the dogma of so-called 'free' trade is pursued in the name of poverty relief," says Dr Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid. "It is a scandal that the British government has backed policies and pumped British taxpayers' money into schemes which have contributed to poor Indian farmers killing themselves and Indian workers being laid off in huge numbers." The report also scrutinises the last Labour government's recent 'U' turn on development policy and liberalisation. Earlier this year, both DFID and the Africa Commission, set up by Tony Blair, said that countries should no longer be forced to liberalise and privatise in order to receive aid. But it makes clear that the UK's development policy, along with that of the World Bank and the IMF, is still strongly based on liberalising principles. egislation is urgently required to turn Mr Blair's rhetoric into reality, it says. "Before the election, Tony Blair's government announced it had changed its mind on the benefits of enforced liberalisation and privatisation. This was welcomed,' says Dr Mukarji. 'But as this report shows, basic policies and principles need to alter radically if such a change is to have a positive impact on poor people's lives." Britain must use its position as chair of the G8 and its presidency of the EU in 2005 to push real reform through those bodies. It must also use its influence at the World Bank and the IMF to bring about a radical change of direction in those institutions. 'The scandals we have outlined in this report must never be allowed to happen again,' says Dr Mukarji. Christian Aid calls upon the new British government to: * amend the 2002 International Development Act to bar UK aid from being tied to policies of liberalisation or privatisation * make public all its discussions with the World Bank and the IMF so that progress can be monitored * state clearly that poor countries have the right to raise tariffs to protect their infant industries. To read the report in full visit: www.christianaid.org.uk
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