Mainstreaming International Trade into National Development Strategy: A Pilot Project in Bangladesh and India”, was conceived to address a major problem of trade policymaking and its implementation in developing countries, i.e. the problem of social exclusion. The project was initiated in the year 2007 with CUTS CITEE as the nodal implementing agency and was undertaken both in India and Bangladesh. Unnayan Samannay was the Bangladesh counterpart, while CITEE and CRC implemented it in Rajasthan and West Bengal respectively.
The overall goal of the project was to establish upward and downward linkages between the grassroots and the policymakers (both at the local and national level) so as to integrate people’s views and concerns on issues of linkages between international trade and human development into not just trade policy but development policy of a country.
The study in the two Indian states, viz. Rajasthan and West Bengal, was done on the Agricultural sector. The sector was selected for its economic, political and social importance within the country. Moreover, the choice o the sector was influenced by the contention from many quarters that the impact of globalisation and liberalisation are most noticeable in livelihoods and economic security in the agriculture sector.
The study had two components to it – economy and a political economy part. The economy part, undertaken by the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences(CSSS), Kolkata, concentrated more on the micro level analysis of international trade and its impact on relevant stakeholders. CUTS CRC undertook the political economy study which focused on understanding the ways in which the present system of governance in India works and whether or not it has room for an enabling mechanism to integrate people’s views and concerns on issues of international trade that impact human development at the grassroots.
The political economy study in West Bengal was undertaken in four districts of the state, viz. Hooghly, Jalpaiguri, Malda and Purulia, wherein four hundred and twelve households spread across these four districts were interviewed. Various stakeholders including government officials, people’s representatives and farmers (both landed and landless) were interviewed. Since no person can be termed as apolitical in its true sense, their views arguably incorporated beliefs and policies of diverse political parties as well.
The findings from the study brought to light the need for strengthening the process of dissemination of accurate information on government support programmes at the ground level and reinforcing the process of signaling demands from the grassroots.