Friday, July 15, 2016

National meet in Ahmedabad to discuss corporate "loot": Gandhians, Marxists, environmentalists to participate

By Our Representative
A three-day national convention in “defence” of democracy, and to protect land, water, forest and livelihood” from alleged corporate “loot” will held on July 16-18 at Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Ahmedabad, a university founded by Mahatma Gandhi, amidst aborted Maharashtra home department "efforts" to identify well-known civil society bodies organizing it as Naxalite.
While Gujarat home department has reportedly denied it has received any intimation from the Maharashtra government that the organizers have Naxalite leaning, the organizers admit, their activities would be “closely watched”. Top organizer Ashok Shrimali of the Mines, Minerals and People (MMP) said, “One can very well gauge the character of the meet from the likely participants.”
To be held ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, starting on July 18, state officials, meanwhile, privately concede, any clampdown on the organizers at this juncture would turn into a big political issue, inviting adverse comments on “Gujarat model”.
Shrimali said, “We have nothing to hide. Those who will address the meet include Gandhian experts, on one hand, and representatives of Adivasi organizations, on the other.”
Participants include KC Maradi, one of the most prominent associates of Jay Prakash Nayaran who was a pioneer of the total revolution; CPI-M politburo member and farmers’ leader Hannan Mullah; top sociologist Prof Ghanshyam Shah; Gujarat-based Gandhian tribal leaders Amarsinh Chaudhary and Ashok Chaudhury; well-known environmentalist Rohit Prajapati; Environics Trust’s R Sreedhar, who is an expert with the National Green Tribunal; and Aam Aadmi Party’s Gujarat convener Kanu Kalsaria.
Top organizations which will be taking part at the convention include National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a top civil rights apex body led by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Parkar; human rights NGO Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF); and and others.
Leaders of several farmers’ and agricultural workers’ such as Bharatiya Kisan Union and All-Indian Kisan Sabha, associated with the two Left parties, CPI and CPI-M, will also be participating in the meet, which will also be participating. Some senior members of Parliament, too, are likely to address the gathering.
Meanwhile, a note distributed to the proposed participants ahead of the meet accuses the Government of India of making it amply clear that “it is going to pursue the pro-corporate and anti-people policies of the previous dispensation with much more vigor, coercion, and rapid pace.” It adds, “The reality of ‘achchhe din’ stands exposed and the people’s aspiration for better life has been channelized to nefarious communal polarization.”
The note warns that the government is “allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) not only in multi-brand retail but also in the defense sector; amending the existing labor laws to suit the industry”; is “diluting environmental laws to turn clearances into mere formalities; and even to amend the much flawed Land Acquisition Act brought by the previous regime in order to do away with the minimum relief it provided to the people.”
It warns, “Threats of corporate loot of natural resources as well as communalism are greatly undermining our democracy. Resistances by people and movements against the economic offensive will be met by an aggressive repressive regime as well as by extra-constitutional violent outfits supporting the regime. Even the judiciary will be weakened through various means and the corporate-controlled media will turn a blind eye.”

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