Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade & Economics (GRANITE)

Karnataka State Level Project Launch Meeting
Bangalore, April 23, 2005

The Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT), Bangalore – project partner for Karnataka – to launch the project in Karnataka, organised a daylong meeting at Hotel Vijay Residency, Karnataka, Bangalore on 23rd April 2005. The meeting began with an inaugural session chaired by Y G Muralidharan, Managing Trustee, CREAT and Project Coordinator, GRANITE. This was followed by two panel discussions on the sectors of agriculture and textiles & clothing (T&C) focusing on the ‘Opportunities and Challenges’ in both the sectors in the context of Karnataka’s economy. There was also a session on Seed Bill 2004, and its implications on agriculture. The panellists were representatives from academic institutions, grassroots workers, government officials and heads of the institutions. The meeting was attended by over forty invitees including some members of the State Reference Group (SRG).


The objective of the meeting was to formally launch GRANITE project in Karnataka. It also aimed at bringing all the relevant stakeholders to a common platform to discuss the opportunities and challenges in the sectors of agriculture and T&C with reference to Karnataka.

Key addresses in the inaugural session

Y G Muralidharan, Managing Trustee, CREAT and Project Coordinator, GRANITE

Highlighted the need for a clear understanding of the various aspects of World Trade Organisation (WTO), in relation to agriculture and T&C. He said that the present negative approach to WTO needs a re-look and a proper understanding of the nitty gritty of WTO by the civil society is essential. He opined that the WTO is neither a panacea for all ills of the country nor a cause for all the problems. GRANITE is an attempt to improve the public’s understanding of WTO and act as a pressure group on the State to take pro-poor policy decisions.

Highlights of the panel discussion on Agriculture sector

Moderator: Prakash Kammardi, University of Agricultural Sciences
Panellists: Sunanda Jayaram, President (Women’s Wing), Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Mandya, K T Gangadhar, President, Horticultural Products Cooperative Marketing Society (HOPCOM) and Farmers’ Leader, Shimoga, Prof. Kumara Swamy, Social Worker and K Ananda Krishna, GM, Karnataka State Seeds Corporation Limited, Bangalore

  • WTO had badly affected the lives of the poor and agricultural workers. The process of globalisation has given free access to hazardous pesticides. As a result, women working with these pesticides are prone to various diseases.
  • The concept of mechanised farming leading to corporatisation of agriculture has affected the employment opportunities for women.
  • Indian farmers are traditional and need to be educated about the WTO. The government did not prepare them in terms of knowledge, farming practices, etc. to come up to the standards set by the WTO. GRANITE has to look into these issues and see how best farmers can be educated
  • As a result of WTO the support, which farmers were receiving earlier, has been reduced. On the other hand, the production cost has increased. The minimum support price is in no way a support price. GRANITE should address this issue and a scientific method to fix the minimum support price is to be decided.
  • The subsidy allowed under Green Box/Blue Box and Amber Box under WTO has favoured the developed countries since the subsidy given by developing countries are minimal on account of financial crunch.
  • The rigorous standards included in the Phytosanitary clause of WTO are too harsh for farmers of Karnataka.
  • The Seed Bill aimed at selling away the rights on seeds to multinational companies. The compensation to be paid for violation of the provisions of the Seed Bill is too meagre and needs to be increased.

Highlights of the panel discussion on T&C sector

Moderator: Y G Muralidharan, CREAT
Panellists: K M Namboodiri, Deputy Director, Central Silk Board, J Dev Burman, Deputy Director, Textiles Committee and Deepa, Civideep-India

  • Karnataka has an edge over other states with regards to silk. However, the competition from China needs to be tackled. Secondly, the poor quality of silk exported, sometimes without proper permission, has affected silk trade in the international market. GRANITE should popularise the Silk Mark Scheme.
  • Silk industry in Karnataka is still traditional and needs to be upgraded to meet the international standards. Weavers are facing a number of problems like power shortage, lack of marketing facilities, technological obsolescence, etc. This needs to be rectified with a proper policy decision.
  • The phase out of the quota system has had some good effects in Karnataka. Textiles mills are showing signs of revival. There is a market improvement in quality of T&C.
  • The working conditions of women in garment factories needs immediate attention. Most of the garment factories flout the rules and regulations and women are not treated well. There is no transparency and corruption is rampant.
  • Corruption is not a WTO issue. It is a governance issue and needs to be tackled by the local government.