(FINANCIAL TIMES) Well, that was an abrupt and unwelcome U-turn. A month ago, India was boasting it would combat the gathering international food crisis by releasing some of its bounteous wheat stocks on world markets. Last Saturday, the Narendra Modi government downgraded its ambitions from feeding the world to just feeding India, announcing an export ban on wheat after sudden heatwaves pushed down forecast domestic production and drove up prices. With Ukrainian wheat production expected to fall by a third this year and Russia seizing Ukrainian grain and destroying its farms, the risk of the food crisis spiralling out of control just went up another notch.
There's a pretty clear parallel between India's volte-face on wheat and the Covid-19 vaccine shortages last year. Its super-competitive pharma industry boasted of inoculating the world, and the government initially enjoyed the reflected soft-power glory, but New Delhi cut off exports when its own country's needs called louder.