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India pushed hard for interests of developing countries at WTO: Sitharaman

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New Delhi: India negotiated hard at the WTO’s recent Nairobi ministerial meeting to ensure that the interests of developing countries remain at the centre of the multi-lateral trade body’s agenda, parliament was informed on Tuesday.

“India negotiated hard to ensure that the WTO continues to place the interest of developing countries and LDCs (least developed countries) at the centre of its agenda,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha.

Some developed countries, including the US, are opposed to the continuation of the Doha Development Round negotiations launched in 2001, she said in a statement to the House, following her return from Nairobi meeting that concluded on Saturday.

Even as rich nations conceded to the demands of emerging economies on issues such as finding a permanent solution to disputes over government stockpiling of food for security, India protested the non-inclusion of the development agenda at the latest trade talks.

The Nairobi Ministerial Declaration acknowledged that members have different views on how to address the future of the Doha Round, but also noted the strong commitment of all members to advance negotiations on the remaining Doha issues, Sitharaman said.

“India not only made a statement to this effect at the closing ceremony on December 19 but also made a written submission to the Director-General, WTO and the Chair of the 10th Ministerial Conference,” the minister said.

She also said on demand from a large number of developing countries for a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for agricultural products, India negotiated a ministerial declaration that recognises that developing countries will have the right to have recourse to an SSM.

The SSM allows developing countries to resort to higher customs duties on some farm produce to protect the interests of its farmers.

As the future of WTO’s Doha Development Agenda (DDA) appeared in doubt, India succeeded in obtaining a re-affirmative ministerial decision on public stockholding for food security purposes, Sitharaman said.

India’s statement issued at the end of the Nairobi talks said: “Notwithstanding the difficulty in the negotiations, the draft declaration reflects India’s demand for a reaffirmation from all members to work towards a permanent solution on public stockholding.”

On new issues like investment and e-commerce being pushed by developed countries, Sitharaman said the Nairobi Declaration acknowledges the differences in views and
states that any decision to launch negotiations multilaterally would need to be agreed by all members.

The minister said all countries agreed to the elimination of agricultural export subsidies subject to the preservation of special and differential treatment for developing countries such as a longer phase-out period for transportation and marketing export subsidies.

“The reduction in the massive subsidization of the farm sector in developed countries, which was the clear-cut mandate of the DDA, is now not even a subject matter of discussion today, leave aside serious negotiations,” Sitharaman had said at the plenary session at Nairobi.

She told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the Nairobi ministerial decision contains disciplines that “include terms to limit the benefits of financing support to agriculture exporters, rules on state enterprises engaging in agricultural trade and disciplines to ensure that food aid does not negatively affect domestic production. Developing countries, such as India, are given longer time to implement these rules.”(IANS)

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Most Hated Task by Professionals in India is Data Entry: Report

88% Indians believe bots should be used for admin work

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India bots
Eighty-eight per cent of people in India believe that humans shouldn't be carrying out repetitive admin tasks if they can be done by bots. Pixabay

Eighty-eight per cent of people in India believe that humans shouldn’t be carrying out repetitive admin tasks if they can be automated and this could be a better way to make use of technology, a new report said on Tuesday.

The Automation Anywhere — a global leader in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) surveyed more than 10,000 office workers and revealed that on an average they spend more than three hours a day on manual, repetitive computer tasks which are not part of their primary job.

The research, conducted by OnePoll, investigated the time spent on and attitudes towards manual, repetitive digital administration tasks in the modern enterprise.

India bots
Workers in India can focus on higher value tasks if the mundane repetitive tasks can be automated and be completed by bots. Pixabay

“As per the report, the most hated task for Indian professionals is Data Entry. Close to 80 per cent of the participants in India believe that admin work is an obstacle for them to do their main job,” said Milan Sheth, Executive Vice President India, Middle East and Africa, Automation Anywhere.

“Workers can focus on higher value tasks if the mundane repetitive tasks can be automated,” Sheth added.

New data shows that nearly half of workers surveyed who expressed an opinion find digital administration boring (47 per cent) and a poor use of their skills (48 per cent), while the majority say it gets in the way of doing their main job (51 per cent overall, rising to 80 per cent in India) and reduces their overall productivity (64 per cent).

According to the survey, Over half (52 per cent) of millennial respondents felt that they could be more productive if they had less administrative tasks to complete, slightly higher than the average at 48 per cent.

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The study also revealed that nearly half (49 per cent) of those surveyed say that simple digital administrative tasks often prevent them from leaving the office on time, 60 per cent of the Indian participants believe the same, indicating it’s impacting their personal lives. (IANS)