Tuesday, September 23, 2014

US-based Ghadar Alliance report says Modi's 100 days point towards an emerging disaster to happen in India

By Our Representative
The newly-formed Ghadar Alliance, a US-based educational watchdog coalition created by activist-scholars calling themselves “concerned citizens”, has released a comprehensive 100-day report of Modi saying they point towards an “emerging disaster” waiting to happen in India on issues of human rights. Titled Fast Track to Troubling Times, the report has been released even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares for his first visit to the US. Modi’s US tour begins on September 26.
The report says, “The Modi model of development is based on a deeply authoritarian vision that is focused almost exclusively on economic growth while excluding considerations of social inclusion, economic equality or environmental sustainability. This exclusion manifests itself in Modi’s policies as a consistent hostility towards democratic processes of informed consent and public deliberation.”
To prove its point, it gives following examples:
  • In July 2014, coal mine projects with capacity above 16 mtpa were exempted from the requirement of seeking consent from the local communities that are affected by the project. 
  • The National Board for Wildlife was reconstituted in July 2014 by slashing the number of independent members from 15 to just three. 
  • The Ministry of Environment & Forests is planning to amend the National Green Tribunal Act that will dilute the powers of the body by turning the judicial tribunal into an administrative one.
  • The need for consent from gram sabhas (village councils) before prospecting for minerals in forests is sought to be removed from the Forest Rights Act. 
Claiming to be the first independent people’s report to be published since Modi came into office, the report identifies the economy, religious extremism and human rights as grave areas of concern. “We have been very careful and meticulous in collecting data only from public sources to build an evidence-based and fully data-driven report,” said Raja Swamy, economic anthropologist and one of the authors of the report.
“When it comes to the economy, our report shows that the new administration wants to eliminate all democratic protections in favor of corporate giveaways and ripoffs. One example of this are the amendments that the Modi regime has proposed to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 that do away with meaningful safeguards for those losing land, especially for India’s poor, marginal peasantry and indigenous peoples”, Swami pointed out.
He added, “The proposed amendments accept in-toto all corporate demands and eliminate existing safeguards. From the evidence available, can we not conclude that the minimal protections for ordinary people are being wiped out to favor corporations?” The report is replete with such details, even as comparing the Modi budget with the previous United Progressive Alliance’s budget. It says how the BJP government is planning to raise four times more money through the ‘sale of state assets’ than what the previous government did.
The report highlights the empowerment of violent gangs of the “supremacist Hindu right” under the Modi dispensation. “In the three months since Modi took charge, there have been over 600 cases of anti-minority violence in one single state, Uttar Pradesh, and several cases of forced reconversion of Dalits to Hinduism.
“If there is one thing that is clear already it is that under Modi, Hindu supremacist gangs will virtually rule the streets. There is a palpable sense of insecurity today among minorities, Dalits and women as non-state actors have turned hyper-aggressive, and Modi, through his consistent silence and refusal to hold offenders accountable, has given tacit approval” said Anu Mandavilli of the San Jose Peace and Justice Center and co-founder of Ghadar Alliance.
“The privileging of economic growth as the primary goal functions to dictate amnesia about Modi’s Gujarat record with US investors eager to capitalize on the Indian market,” added Professor Snehal Shingavi, also a co-founder of the Alliance. “And for many of us born and raised in a racialized US context, the targeting of minorities in India by Hindu reactionaries uncomfortably corresponds to our own experiences with anti-immigrant racism here.”
The report compares the first 100 days of the new government with Modi’s 12 years of rule in Gujarat. “Examining Modi’s first 100 days in the context of his record in Gujarat reveals a number of disturbing parallels, and these parallels legitimize the report’s predictive capacity,” said Mandavilli.
"The report is the first in a series of actions that the Ghadar Alliance is initiating to keep a consistent and critical focus on the BJP/RSS from outside India", a statement issued by the Alliance said, adding, “We represent the true diversity of India rather than the narrow homogeneity of Modi supporters lining up to welcome him here in the US.” 

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