All India Bidi Industry Federation (AIBIF) Appeals to the Government
New Delhi, October 6, 2016: The Government of India is hosting the WHO FCTC Conference of Parties (COP 7) at Noida during the 7th to 12th of November 2016. As a representative body of Bidi Manufacturers, the All India Bidi Industry Federation (AIBIF) has requested the Government of India to include bidi manufacturers and other stakeholders in the Indian delegation to the COP7. Incidentally, the AIBIF also tries to protect interests of millions of bidi workers dependent on the bidi industry. Accordingly, the AIBIF has also requested the Government to include representatives of bidi workers unions in the said delegation.
It is needless to mention that democratic process is fundamental to all policy making both at an international and at the national level. In fact, the Guidance Note of the UN Secretary General on Democracy emphasizes the central role of democratic processes in the fulfillment of the goals of the UN.
Even FCTC upholds and promotes transparency, and participation of all constituents and stakeholders in its procedures. Further, the FCTC recognizes the need to consider the livelihood and economic interests of tobacco growers and tobacco workers while implementing its provisions and calls to be mindful of the social and economic consequences that tobacco control programmes may engender in developing countries especially in counties which are predominately tobacco growing and/or tobacco products manufacturing counties.
The COP7 should therefore, be carried out in participative and democratic manner.
Mr. Rajnikant Patel, President, All India Bidi Industry Federation, said, “We are deeply concerned about the vested interests of NGOs and anti-tobacco activists in India, who through their relentless and biased campaign are influencing the Government’s tobacco control policy and promoting extreme regulations that are already hurting bidi industry and consequently employment of bidi workers and causing widespread growth of counterfeit trade in bidis. The growth of counterfeit trade in bidis has led to sharp drop in sales of bidis of leading bidi manufacturers and has severely impacted livelihood of millions of bidi workers.
“We are apprehensive that NGOs, who are allowed access to the FCTC COP7, will carry a strong voice during the Conference and will attempt to enforce their ulterior agenda at the meeting and try to bring undesirable anti-bidi workers proposals by the Parties to the Conference causing further distress to millions of bidi workers in the country.” added, Mr. Patel.
The Federation therefore submits that policy developments in this area are not left to anti tobacco activists or NGOs. In order to protect the interests of millions of bidi workers, law abiding bidi manufacturers, and rights of other constituents of the tobacco industry, we appeal to the Government of India to include Bidi Industry Stakeholders and representatives of the Bidi Workers Unions in the official Indian delegation to the Conference.
The Indian delegation comprising all bidi industry stakeholders to COP7 will ensure that all stakeholders view point on various issues is considered while recommending new tobacco control measures without harming the interests of millions of bidi workers dependent on bidi industry.
The Federation appeals to the Government of India to uphold the high democratic principles of the Indian Constitution and facilitate the participation of bidi workers and other industry stakeholders in the proceedings of the FCTC COP7.