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Objective behind Kerry's visit to India - Strengthen Indo-US ties
There had been several instances in past since the Indian Independence when the two great democracies upon earth agreed and often disagreed on issues concerning the national and global matters. One could still vividly recall Mrs. Indra Gandhi visit to US before the creation of Bangladesh.

President Nixon and Prime Minister Gandhi couldn't find a  solid ground of agreement as Indian economy had come under the grinding halt under load of almost one crore refugees flooded from East Pakistan. That tentative-exploratory visit of Mrs. Gandhi failed to elicit any sympathetic response from US administration. What followed later is now part of Continental history. Certainly it was not a very friendly visit.

Mr. Kerry's recent visit to India is also not an easy task.

Till recently, US had refused visa to Mr. Narendra Modi and a lot of thing were expressed about in the US about Human Rights situation in India, especially in relation to Gujarat 2002. It is but natural that even in the shadows of diplomatic niceties the bitterness of that decision would take time to subside. There was another scar that was not so easy to heal and so quick – Recently, the ties between India and US had suffered after an Indian diplomat was arrested and strip-searched in New York City in December on charges that she underpaid her maid and lied on a visa application.  

Secretary of State John Kerry had a lot of baggage as apart from these multi-dimensional personal grievances and serious issues of international positions.

The snooping by the US National Security Agency on Indian political parties, in particular the BJP has been a serious bone of contention – a very serious issue indeed. In their interaction, Foreign Minister Swaraj has directly and clearly made Mr. Kerry aware of the people's anger about this activity. She told him that it was completely "unacceptable" as friendly countries did not snoop on each other. The US Secretary of State said that as a matter of policy his government did not discuss intelligence matters.

Indian Foreign Minister has also expressed her displeasure for the Immigration Bill cleared by the US Senate. Kerry did not back off on the Bill either.

And the greatest roadblock so far, US wants India to drop its opposition WTO's international trade treaty and pursue a compromise on food subsidies. While the two sides want to improve their ties, Indian plank is fraying the US diplomatic sensitivity. The WTO treaty considers the Food Security Act – 2013 as non-conducive to international food trade.

According to them, the food law that guarantees grains to nearly 70 per cent Indians,more than 1.2 billion people,at nearly throwaway prices would artificially lower local prices and damp demand for their products in one of world's largest markets.They feel that the food security law will breach India's AMS (Aggregate Measurement of Support) commitments. FSA-2013 involvespurchasing food grain from farmers at high prices and selling them through the Public Distribution System at subsidized rates. 

Not only should the needy be provided access to food but farmers too must be incentivized to produce more grain to reduce reliance on imports. For them, both the actions constitute a type of price support that the WTO classifies as "amber box measures" – "considered to distort production and trade.

India's categorical answer to these aspersions is simple and easy to understand. The new systems of control of procurement of food grains and distribution under the new Food Security Act will not push the pick substantially higher than the ongoing public distribution system and it won't make any effect to international price distortions. India backs the G-33 proposal that wants subsidies, which are a part of the procurement of food-grains for public stock-holding for poor and marginal farmers, not to be regarded as a prohibited subsidy by the WTO.

As of today, the agreement on Agriculture allows "market distorting subsidies" up to a limit of 10 per cent of the total production. India is demanding that this limit should be raised.

Before his arrival, Mr. Kerry had applauded the Prime Minister's vision of 'Sabka vikas, Sabka saath.' After arrival he praised Mr. Modi's "vision" for economic reform and development of green technology. But even as both the countries are trying to foster improved ties, India, in its national interests, has refused to withdraw its opposition to the pact unless it includes parallel measures that allow the government to subsidize and stockpile grains. India insists that it is necessary to protect its poor in case an unusually strong or weak rainy season hurts agricultural production. However, Mr. Kerry told Mr. Modi that India's opposition to the accord was not in keeping with the prime minister's vision,

Secretary of State meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj was at best, could be said, as cordial. Mr, Kerry, after the meeting, said " a great deal of homework to be done" by both sides.

The purpose of Mr.Kerry's visit was to strengthen ties between and US and India and set the stage for Modi's meetings with President Barack Obama in September, when Modi is expected to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York and then travel to Washington.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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