Indian tobacco farmers staged a demonstration at the venue of a global conference organised by the WHO in Nodia on Monday to protest against the “non-democratic” way of framing “one-sided” policies on tobacco.
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India is hosting the Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) to World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) for the first time.
The farmers also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to institute an investigation and expose the opaque working of WHO-FCTC and NGO operations in India who orchestrated atrocities against farmers.
They said that WHO’s FCTC global conference, which decided to keep farmers away from the critical decision-making about their future despite repeated appeals, is expected to severely impact the lives and livelihoods of 4.6 crore Indians associated with the tobacco industry.
“We pledge to fight against the non-transparent machinery of WHO FCTC. We appeal to the policy makers to investigate the hidden agenda of global organisations that, under the garb of development and welfare, are silently working towards destroying local markets and livelihoods in developing economies, which is against their own guiding principles.
“They are creating an environment that facilitates the entry of global corporations to manipulate and earn profits from the lucrative Indian market,” said B V Javare Gowda, President of the Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA).
Murali Babu, General Secretary of FAIFA, appealed to the Prime Minister to recognise the hardships that confront crores of Indian farmers as global representatives get together to “destroy their future”.
“Tobacco control measures need to be more inclusive and should not be decided only by health officials and activists, but should allow participation from tobacco growers and realistically acknowledge the problems they face,” he said.