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Memory of Sreedhar Ramamurthy, Roger Moody of India survives him amidst unfolding ecocide

Written By mediavigil on Friday, December 29, 2023 | 12:37 AM

I was planning to talk to Sreedhar Ramamurthy about his days with the late P. R. Mishra, the noted soil scientist. We had discussed it in Anandvan, Baba Amte's Ashram in 2004. I wished to refresh my memory about what he had said about Chakriya Vikas Pranali and durability of institutions and traditional systems and P. R. Mishra's disagreement with his disciple, Anil Agarwal, the founder of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). Now it will never get refreshed. Besides being a geologist, Sreedhar was an organic intellectual, a very amiable person and one of the top experts on science & political economy of natural resources. He was the co-founder of many initiatives. 
When I last met him he drew my attention towards the papers related to Volcan investments in Nassau, Bahamas, the main holding company of Anil Agarwal's Vedanta company and about his father D. P. Agarwal's Twinstar Holdings Limited in Mauritius who was from Patna. We had planned to work together to unearth dubious corporate firms. Now it seems it will remain an unfinished work. 
[Photo: Sreedhar with Baba Amte and Ravi Rebbapragada in 2004 at the Assembly of Mines, Minerals and People (MMP)]

Sreedhar's writings will carry forward his legacy. In his ideas, he seemed to identify himself with P. R. Mishra but in recent times he seemed to align his activities with P. R. Mishra's disciple due to pragmatic considerations. He was the Roger Moody of India.

He spoke on environmental injustices in India in the context of draft EIA, which was being pushed in by the government under the cover of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and Ease of Doing Business.The draft EIA 2020 provided for a post-facto environmental clearance for several large-scale projects, including industrial projects, national highway expansion projects, inland waterways project, etc. This means that the developers are exempted from getting environmental clearance before the work on the project begins and can choose to get the clearance after the project is initiated. The environment is for everyone to care about and not just the environmentalists. The present draft is anti-people, anti-democracy, and anti-environment. His insight into Rio Tinto's mining projects in India captures the goings on in India. He called out calls World Bank and other IFI’s for total lack of accountability, pushing privatization and conditionalities which perpetuate further misery of the poor. He spoke on extractivism and indigenous rights in India. He drew attention towards  how clean energy programs are causing environmental destruction.

He addressed the webinar on Adani and Godda Coal Power Plant. He spoke on India's Coal Auction 2020 and quiet sale of big coal mines of the country. He addressed the intertwined issue of cartelisation, economic crisis and climate crisis at the Energy Finance Conference. He gave a lecture on "Mineral as commons" as part of Lecture Series on Accountability for Commons at the Institute of Public Policy, National Law School, Bengaluru on May 5, 2023. He delivered a lecture as part of the Prem Jain Distinguished Lecture Series 2023 on -THE STATE OF INDIA'S NATURAL ECOSYSTEMS in July 2023 as one of his last lectures.

His memory and the memory of his fellow comrades from the environmental movements, a sub-set of universal emancipatory movements compels one to introspect over our collective failure to resist ecocidal initiatives of the beneficial owners of body corporates and public institutions. The meaning of “life” includes death in its meaning because all organic matter decays. If life is more than organic matter, if life is about pure and true consciousness than we have failed to address human consciousness which is overwhelmed my myriad mental constructions, including artificial constructs like corporate forms and data forms. We are losing even what was gained after centuries of universal emancipatory movements against slave trade and slavery which made human freedom, agency and autonomy redundant. Ideologies, the mental constructions which believe in taming nature also believe in taming human human freedom, agency and autonomy. Sreedhar was part of many peoples’ alliances, coalitions and networks. But like most solidarity movements these initiatives, ended up putting the cart before the horse. These efforts gave precedence to solidarity over shared consciousness. The conflict between the defenders of nautral heritage and ecocide abettors, the beneficial owners of formal social, political and economic organisations creates a compelling logic for mothering new forms of alliances, coalitions, networks and solidarity which is based on true consciousness to resist unfolding ecocide. This will be a true tribute to the memory of Sreedhar and to the memory his fellow comrades.  

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