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WAR ON PEOPLE: Challenges to anti nuclear anti GM peoples movements

Written By Krishna on Friday, March 23, 2012 | 4:04 AM

INSAF National Convention
Challenges to anti nuclear anti GM peoples movements

March 24-25, 2012
Speakers Hall, Constitution Club
New Delhi

Indian State in it's neoliberal race to boost the oligarchs and the corporates has surrendered its people at the altars of profit. Movements have been witnessing growing mobilisations and massive struggles against the capitalist model of speedy 'development' pursed by the government in cohorts with Corporations. Of late, the Prime Minister has been launching a new war on people to trample struggles against nuclear power and genetically modified (GM) food.

Nuke Fears
Nuclear power is a very risky technology in public perception around the world. Nuclear energy has declined in popularity since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Anti-nuclear critics see nuclear power as a dangerous, expensive way to boil water to generate electricity. Opponents of nuclear power have raised a number of related concerns like nuclear accidents, radioactive waste disposal, nuclear weapons proliferation, extremely high costs and curtailed civil liberties under the garb of national security and terrorism.

Of these concerns, nuclear accidents and disposal of longlived radioactive waste have probably had the greatest public impact worldwide. Anti-nuclear campaigners point to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear emergency and earlier ones in Chernobyl (USSR) and Three Mile Islands (USA) as proof that nuclear power can never be 100% safe.
The groundswell in struggles against proposed nuclear power plants in Fatehbad (Haryana), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Chutka (MP), Kavada (AP) and Mithi Virdi
(Gujarat); and against the commissioning of Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu) plant is not surprising.

Poison on the platter
Genetically modified foods controversy is a relatively new issue of concern involving powerful biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, NGOs, farmers unions and scientists. Food safety, the effect on natural ecosystems, gene flow into non GE crops and corporate control of the food supply are key areas of concern.

Activists are wary of G.M. cropping as big businesses’ pseudo-science inimical to all principles of life sciences and disruptive of Nature’s speciation process, promotive of monoculture, and breeder of toxins. Increasing criticism of GM food led to the “European GMO-free Regions Network” which evolved from a joint declaration by 10 European countries in the European Parliament in 2003 to safeguard their agriculture policies (mainly based on the support to high quality, typical and
low impact productions) which can be disrupted by an introduction of GMOs. Presently it is composed of 53 European Regions and Local Authorities of regional level.

While the Indian government has been debating these concerns with the scientists and NGOs opposing GMOs, the Prime Minister is under pressure to open our platters to GM
food due to the promises made to seed companies and the US during the visit of Bush in 2005. Interestingly, the Indo-US nuclear deal discussed then made headiness while the other dangerous Indo-U.S. Agricultural Knowledge Initiative (AKI) received scant attention. AKI was launched to usher in another market-oriented 'Evergreen revolution' driven by big multinationals.

Monsanto's focus on the development of genetically modified crops or transgenics is being boosted by AKI as the agenda of collaborative farm research with Indian agricultural institutions. Interestingly, the canteen at Monsanto's factory at High
Wycombe (Buckinghamshire) serves only GM-free meals!

State against its people
Both these movements have tried their best to debate with the government or their scientific bureaucracy about the dangers their technological policies pose to people and ecology. Campaigns and direct-actions by a large number of organisations with the solid leadership from the people have seen either the retreat of the government or falsification exercises deployed by the establishment/corporate scientists.

Unable to bear the defeat from common people – the farmers, fisherfolk, adivasis and dalits – the PM is now trying an old used weapon: “Label them as foreign agents and destroy a few NGOs and it will be business as usual.” The 'foreign hand' deployment earlier by Indira Gandhi miserably failed. And India Shining by NDA also bombed at the polls. But the PM is trying to use both these failed weapons!

The need of the hour is to move forward by facing the challenges posed by the Indian state in its hurry to corporatise and drastically change agricultural system and energy generation, as well as crush genuine concerns by intellectuals, NGOs and peoples movements.

This convention will focus on:
1. Nuclear power and its dangers – nuclear power in India, proposed plants, why antinuclear, presentations from struggles in Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Fatehabad, Kavada,
Chutka etc.
2. GM crops and dangers – why GM-free India, who benefits who suffers? Presentations
from anti GM groups.
3. Present Challenges and future of the movements – anti nuclear and anti GM groups
and human rights groups

There will be an exhibition and film screenings.

Progamme Schedule:
Mar 24 (Saturday)
10.00 - 10.30 registration & Tea
10.30 - 12.00: Welcome by Chitranjan Singh (Gen. Secretary, INSAF), introduction by
Anil Chaudhary (INSAF)
Overview: Chair – Justice Rajender Sachar
Speakers: Medha Patkar, Achin Vanaik, Ashok Chowdhury
12.00 - 01.30: Why NO 2 GM? Chair – Gautam Bandhopadhyay
Pankaj Bhushan, Suman Sahay, Yudhvir Singh, Utkarsh Sinha
02.30 - 04.30: WHY anti nuclear? Chair - Banwarilal Sharma
Gopal Krishna, Navrattan Dubey, Asit Das
04.30 - 05.30: Tea Break
05.00 - 06.00: Political panel: Chair – Dr. Sunilam (Former MLA and farmers leader,
Madhya Pradesh)
Kamal Mitra Chenoy (CPI), Girija Pathak (CPI-ML Liberation), Vijai Paratp (Socialist Front)

March 25 (Sunday)
10.00 - 10.30: Tea
10.30 - 12.00: Human Rights Chair: Chitranjan Singh
Sanjay Parikh (PUCL), Gautam Navlakha (PUDR), Vaishali Patil (anti globalisation
12.00 - 01.30: Open House: Way forward
02.30 – 05.30: films
1. Music Video: America America by K P Sasi against imperialism (English, 5
2. Poison on the Platter (directed by Ajay Kanchan and presented by Mahesh
Bhatt) on the dangers of GM food. (English, 40 minutes)
3. Music Video: Neythalin Paadal (Song of the Coastal Lillies) by Sreemith (Tamil
with English subtitles, 7 minutes)
4. Inviting Disaster - Three Mile Island Pennsylvania Nuclear Power Station
Meltdown (English, 44 minutes)
5. Radiation Stories Part 3:KOODANKULAM by Amudhan R.P. (Tamil with
English subtitles, 80 minutes)
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