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Delhi Wine Club
Union Cabinet Approves India Joining OIV

Posted: Wednesday, 19 October 2011 18:10

Union Cabinet Approves India Joining OIV

Oct 19: The final formality to enable India join OIV, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine located in Paris, was completed last week with the Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clearing the proposal, writes Subhash Arora who met today the officials of the Ministry of Food and Processing Industry which confirmed that the news about the Note approval was received yesterday.

The Note was submitted for approval on 29th September and was cleared at the first possible instant at the monthly Cabinet Committee meeting held on Thursday, 13th September. Usually, this meeting is held on any Thursday of the month or whenever convenient to the Prime Minister and means that the Cabinet took a swift action.

After completing the due diligence and following several internal procedures, the Ministry of Food Processing Industry (MFPI) had sent its formal  request to join OIV on 12 January, 2011. As per the mandate of OIV, a majority of member nations-44 at that time, must agree to a new nation joining. Thanks to the efforts of Mr Federico Castellucci, Director General of OIV, and India’s perceived future strength, the decision was unanimous and was informed to the government officially on July 12, 2011. In fact, at the International Annual Assembly held at Porto in June, he had publically announced that India would be the 45th country to join the prestigious organization-known usually as United Nations of Wines.

A delegation of 5 representatives of the Grape Board is about to leave for Paris to attend the Bi-Annual Meeting held every March and October –this one is known as the ‘October Meeting’.  Dr. U. Venkateswarlu, Joint Secretary, Govt. of India,  Mr. Randhir Patel, Under Secretary to Govt. of India, DR. P.G. Adsule, Director of  National Research Centre for Grapes, Pune,  Rajiv Samant, CEO of Sula Group and Board Member, IGPB and   Rajiv Seth, Chairman, Oenology Committee of IGPB are members of the delegation leaving for Paris on 23rd October.

Mr. Federico Castellucci is pleased with the news. ‘We made the necessary announcements in June and had already invited the delegation to the October Meeting even though Indian is officially not a member yet. Dealing with over 44 governments I know that such important decisions need approvals at various levels of the government, especially since we deal strictly with the governments only. I am sure India would soon be completing the balance formalities and will be welcome as a member of the OIV family.’

The MFPI is not willing to comment but the new Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar has been as enthusiastic as the previous Minister Mr Subodh Sahai towards this membership. Then  why the delay of 3 months in presenting the Note? ‘It is quite an elaborate document- 27 pages to be precise, including the Agreement  and the Note is signed by the concerned Minister. All kinds of information including the long term commitment effects, payments, relevance to the national economy etc. have to be a part of the Note- therefore 3 months taken was quite reasonable’.

The importance as a vine and wine producer in the world arena may be gauged by the fact Commercial grape production started only in 1980s only and India already produces 1.6 million tons of grapes, making it the 9th largest grape producer in the world, according to the figures released by OIV at the conference in June, which I had attended. About 85% of the grapes are eating grapes for fresh consumption while 12% are dried for raisins. Only 1.5% are used for wine production, according to the Note sent by  IGPB for Cabinet Approval.

Cabinet approval may not be the absolute final step. Cabinet Approval and the Note will be given to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to process what is known as the instrument of accession. This instrument is issued by the President of India and the original has to be deposited with the French Government. The government will have to deposit the annual charges of  €16,800 (pro-rata for the first year), being the share based on the production levels (this is around the minimum amount payable by a member nation)

Slowly but surely, India is footing towards being the member of the very prestigious world organization where India will be a big beneficiary in the short and medium term but hopefully will have a significant role to play in long term.

Subhash Arora
October 19, 2011


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