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Acknowledged Nuclear Power.‭ ‬Emerging Super Power.‭ ‬Observer at‭ ‬G‭ ‬8.‭ ‬Aspiring for permanent membership of UN Security Council

Article in The Broken Rifle No 84, November 2009 as part of a special edition for the 2010 international conference on Nonviolent Livelihood Struggle and Global Militarism: Links & Strategies.

Anand Mazgaonkar

President Obama smiled at Manmohan Singh‭ (‬India's Prime Minister‭)‬,‭ ‬Secretary of State Hilary Clinton invited him over for lunch,‭ ‬the World Bank President certified his economic vision,‭ ‬and the IMF chief patted his back for leading his country on the path of‭ ‬sustained growth.‭ ‬That's India's arrival on the world stage.‭

Never mind the‭ ‬150‭ ‬000+‭ ‬farmers‭' ‬suicides.‭ ‬Forget the millions displaced without rehabiliation over the last‭ ‬50‭ ‬years.‭ ‬Ignore the fact that the State acts as an agent and arm of corporate interests.‭ ‬Be deaf to the consensus between mainstream political parties‭ (‬despite the pretence that they offer alternatives‭)‬.‭ ‬Turn a blind eye to the plunder of forests and minerals in areas inhabitated by idigenous people.‭ ‬It really does not matter as long as we can package the India story internationally,‭ ‬as long as we can tom-tom about‭ ‬7%‭ ‬GDP growth,‭ ‬as long as Indian models and actors get a clap at beauty pageants and film festivals.‭

While Bush and his successors‭ – ‬no matter if they are Republican or Democrat‭ – ‬wage their war on‭ '‬terror‭'‬,‭ ‬the Indian State unleashes its own war on‭ '‬Maoists‭'‬.‭ ‬It's business-as-usual whether it's the US or India‭; ‬whether it's the Repbulicans or‭ ‬Democrats,‭ ‬Congress or BJP.‭

Development-induced displacement has the same effect as bombing of communites in a war.‭ ‬It probably uproots more people than a tsunami or a cyclone.‭ ‬It dispossesses,‭ ‬disempowers,‭ ‬deskills and dehumanises people.‭ ‬The only difference might be whether the uprooting is gradual or sudden.‭ ‬There are remarkable parallels between the US Government's facilitation of the operations of Chevron,‭ ‬Halliburton,‭ ‬Boeing,‭ ‬Lockheed Martin,‭ ‬Bechtel in Iraq and elsewhere,‭ ‬and the Indian Government's facilitation of land acquisition and the privatisation of forests and minerals for the Tatas,‭ ‬Reliance,‭ ‬Mittals and Jindals.‭

Indeed,‭ ‬the flavour of the times is:

  • the morphing of the Government's role from pretending to provide welfare to acting as handmaiden for corporate interests
  • paying lip service to‭ '‬democracy‭'‬,‭ '‬human rights‭'‬,‭ '‬justice‭'‬,‭ '‬sustainable development‭'‬,‭ '‬participatory development‭'‬,‭ '‬human rights‭'‬,‭ '‬justice‭'‬,‭ ‬even while one is in Kabul or Baghdad,‭ ‬Kalinganagar or Nandigram
  • pay for use:‭ ‬:‭ ‬only those with the means have the right to clean air and water‭
  • universalisation of middle class norms,‭ ‬lifestyle,‭ ‬aspirations and the selling of dreams that can never be realised‭
  • a clinical lack of sensitivity to the growing violence and iniquity that characterises our society
  • denial of the systemic and State violence that exists in society and branding self-defence or resistance as‭ '‬anti-national‭'‬,‭ '‬anti-development‭'‬,‭ '‬Maoism‭'
  • pitting people against people‭ – ‬i.e.,‭ ‬one set of poor against another,‭ ‬eg factory workers against land-losers‭
  • to be a satellite and service economy exporting flowers and software to import wheat‭ & ‬oil

Does it have to be like this‭? ‬Is‭ '‬development‭' ‬the monopoly of the State and corporate interests‭? ‬Is‭ ‬Peace the preserve of the UN,‭ ‬various Governments and the military‭? ‬Or are there‭ ‬People here,‭ ‬somewhere‭?

Experience teaches that the US and its minions will not bring peace to Afghanistan or Iraq through their weapons and armies.‭ ‬The Indian Government will not overcome the‭ '‬Maoist insurgency‭' ‬using its police and paramilitary forces.‭ ‬It is only public pressure that can bring Governments to their senses.‭ ‬Remember the millions that marched against war in around‭ ‬800‭ ‬cities across the world in February‭ ‬2003.‭ ‬But that was only a beginning and not good enough.‭ ‬There's a long,‭ ‬long way to go before people's will can assert itself more often than just through occasional elections.‭ ‬And Governments are not the only institution that need to change drastically.‭ ‬Present democracy‭ – ‬across the world‭ – ‬is bereft of meaning until the Parliaments,‭ ‬media and courts radically change too.

In terms of immediate practical steps,‭ ‬for instance,‭ ‬we ought to bring enough pressure on the US/UK and others to stop plundering Iraq's oil and the Indian State rescinding its MOUs‭ (‬Memoranda of Understanding granting unfettered rights on the forests and mineral wealth in areas inhabited by‭ ‬adivasis‭ [‬tribal people‭]‬) with the Mittals,‭ ‬Tatas,‭ ‬Essars and Jindals.‭ ‬The society at large,‭ ‬for its part,‭ ‬can wake up to the fact that Islamic militants in Afghanistan or Iraq,‭ ‬and Maoists in India could not have been born in a vacuum.‭ ‬There is an inescapable link between injustice and the birth of insurgency.‭ ‬The poverty and injustice in any one corner of the planet has its manifestations everywhere on a global scale.‭ ‬We also ought to realise that Governments will not,‭ ‬and cannot solve any problems.‭ ‬It will have to be people's‭ ‬/‭ ‬civil society groups‭' ‬nonviolent efforts to bring everyone to the table for dialogue.‭

Next,‭ ‬some non-negotiables have to be instituted:‭

Traditional lifestyles,‭ ‬occupations and resources they are based on‭ (‬land,‭ ‬forests,‭ ‬water,‭ ‬animals‭) ‬cannot be touched without an elaborate dialogue‭ (‬in most places a mockery is made of formal consultation processes‭)‬,‭ ‬and a proper legal framework for public consultation in a way that those affected have a de facto and de jure veto on decisions impacting their survival. Cash compensation is an insult to injury where communites‭' ‬lives are shattered by the ravages of development projects and while the State uses violence to displace and dispossess people.‭

Peace and Justice on this planet call for a globalisation of a different kind.‭ ‬The Globalisation of nonviolence,‭ ‬of nonviolent resistance,‭ ‬opening the doors for mutual understanding and solidarity rather than markets.‭