NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul said on Thursday G8 countries should abolish subsidies to their farmers in order to stop undermining the interests of farmers in developing countries like India.
"We are of the opinion that the G8 countries should do away with subsidies to their farmers," Lord Paul, who is heading a four-member delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to Shantiniketan's university township, said.
Reluctance to reduce, much less abolish subsidies by countries has become an obstacle to reaching a global trade agreement as part of the World Trade Organisation.
In 2005, the United Nations Human Development Report had said that the basic problem to be addressed in the WTO negotiations on agriculture can be summarised in three words: 'Rich country subsidies.'
Although the rich countries (G8 members Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US) had promised to cut farm concessions at the Doha round of WTO talks launched in 2001, subsidies have since steadily grown, the UNHDR has noted.
Lord Paul, whose Caparo group is setting up a plant in Singur to supply components to Tata Motors' Nano, said he was in West Bengal to see how the state could be brought closer to the UK. The ties should include culture, besides trade and investment.
"We would like to see India prosper. West Bengal has a good agricultural base and we would like to support it," he said.
During his tour of the ashram, Lord Paul interacted with students of the Visva-Bharati University and its school Patha Bhavan.
At Sangeet Bhavan, the team was treated to a brief cultural programme of Tagore songs and dances.
After the end of the programme, Lord Paul said he enjoyed the performance.
Later, he said, "the whole Indian community in the UK and elsewhere is proud of our heritage. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and Bengali language are almost made for each other."