International Silk Route for India Is via the States

The farmers in Karnataka who rear silk worms are feeling the heat of cheap silk imports from China. The reason for this sudden surge in imports from China is, reduction in import duty on silk from 15% to 10%. This change in import duty was a decision of the Union Government of India.

As per this newspaper report, a delegation consisting of a few of the ministers from the Karnataka state government and all the MPs from Karnataka met several ministers of the union government recently, urging them to restore the import duty to earlier levels. As per the report, over 11 lakh farmers in the state of Karnataka have been impacted by this decision. Whether the Union Government decides to increase the import duty on silk to earlier levels or not, remains to be seen.  However, this episode in which the largest silk producing state in India felt the heat of cheaper Chinese imports and which made the representatives from the state to rush to Delhi seeking an intervention, tells a thing or two about the federalism being practised in the Indian union.

Should Delhi be taking a decision in this regard?
There are several farm produces that are mostly produced in only one state of the Indian union. Any decision impacting such a farm produce must be taken by the government that is closer to the people who toil to make the produce happen. For instance, any decision impacting coffee or silk in any way, must come from the government of Karnataka. The decisions which do not originate from the government that is closer to the people, will only lead to problems that call for fire-fighting measures later. Decisions by the Union Government sitting at Delhi without even building consensus among impacted states, will lead to such a goof up.

Any reversal in the import duty impacts India's image among the international trading community. India will come across as a nation which is inconsistent with its policies. Non-reversal will bleed the farmers inside India. Why has the union government gotten itself into such a fix? Centralized decision making process which is far removed from the people is the reason. It is time India takes federalism seriously, and implements it in true spirit.


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