Indian media: WTO's concerns over cheap food plan

A woman winnows wheat crop at a wholesale grain market near the Indian city of Ahmedabad on 7 May 2013
Image caption India's cheap food scheme aims to combat hunger in the country

Media are highlighting the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) concerns over India's ambitious food security law which aims to provide subsidised food to two thirds of the population.

Roberto Azevedo, the WTO's director general, says India will soon be breaching its commitments to WTO due to its new programme.

Mr Azevedo says some countries have expressed concerns over India's food security law that ensures distribution of food-grains at highly subsidised rates, reports The Hindu.

"Some members of the WTO feel the food law that guarantees grains to nearly 70% of the country's more than 1.2 billion people at nearly throwaway prices would artificially lower local prices and dampen demand for their products in one of the world's largest markets," a report on the First Post website says.

India is demanding amendments to the Agreement on Agriculture under the WTO so that it can give more food subsidies to the poor without attracting penalties, the website adds.

The country hopes to find a way out at the WTO ministerial meeting in Bali in December, The Economic Times reports.

"Food security, the initial proposal which was tabled by the G-33 (group of developing nations at the WTO), was immediately rejected by many countries for different reasons. Today, there is an understanding that this is something that needs to be on the table and that we have to find a long-term solution for that," the paper quotes Mr Azevedo as saying.

Moving on to international news, newspapers feel that Pakistan army chief Ishfaq Pervez Kayani's decision to retire at the end of November will benefit democracy in the neighbouring country.

The Times of India says Pakistan is continuing to "tread the path of democratic renewal" and hopes the civilian government has a "free hand" in deciding Gen Kayani's successor "who is more amenable to the argument that the strategic interests of Pakistan are best served if peace breaks out on its eastern and western borders".

The Hindu also feels that Gen Kayani's decision to "retire gracefully is good for democracy" and the Pakistan army, but warns that "the cancer of terror will continue to destroy Pakistan" unless his successor is "willing to grasp this nettle".

Unique beauty pageant

Meanwhile, the absence of good sponsorship is affecting the future of a unique beauty pageant in India involving wheelchair-bound women, reports the Deccan Herald.

The Miss Wheelchair India contest, planned for November in Mumbai, is the idea of Sounak Banerjee, who says the absence of sponsors means lower prize money and lesser visibility for the pageant.

"We have no capital for professional marketing. Since most of us are differently-abled, we are unable to go out. So, the few sponsors we got were only through phone calls and emails," he adds.

In sports news, the Supreme Court has proposed the setting up of a three-member panel to probe allegations of spot-fixing into the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, reports The Indian Express.

The court on Monday suggested that the panel should be headed by a retired judge for a "completely independent" investigation into the allegations, it says.

And finally, legendary cricketer Rahul Dravid, who played his last professional Twenty20 match on Monday, says he felt more "emotional" when he retired from Test cricket, reports the Hindustan Times.

For Dravid, the best part about retirement, however, will be "not having to practice anymore" and getting to spend time with his family, the paper adds.

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