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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

going against Greenpeace India could be anyone tomorrow!!

i read an earlier version of this book (Greenpeace Chronicle) in the mid 90s i think, one of the first books in activism that i probably read. i still have the copy of the book i picked up in a platform second hand book shop somewhere in chennai roads...probably read the book in one go, couldn't put it down as one read about the kind of troubles people took to stand up for their convictions...soon after, i happened to attend the campaign against the introduction of incinerators in chennai where i saw some activists as well...i have followed their campaigns ever since, and haven't found any one of them as being mis-placed or anti-people in the Indian context. i have signed several of its online petitions and in small ways contributed each time i have been stopped by their volunteers in random places. i have been amazed to find a constant supply of young people for this organization that i haven't found in any other agency that is involved in such campaigns. it is a great strength to them.

i am not aware of its sources of funding as much as i don't know the sources of funding of any political party in india. i know political parties are not questioned and till #AAP came into existence, none cared to be accountable to anybody with their finances and all the major ones even today refuse to bother with public scrutiny of their sources of funding. however Indian regulatory agencies can be directed to be selectively discriminatory through the political will and lobby groups' power. so, civil society groups have been put under severe scrutiny while the government continues to write-off loans and provide waivers for the corporates with large non-performing assets.

the rather vociferous support that the government seems to draw from its bhaktas is surprising! many of them have come to believe that all NGOs are working against their favourite government, have several hidden agendas to de-stabilize the country and will christianize / islamize this nation. some of these bhaktas are actually intelligent in regular life and can read and write and even understand issues beyond mere propaganda. unfortunately, their anger against certain types of agencies has been cleverly manipulated by corporate PR that has utilized regulatory needs into a nation statement.  it is unfortunate that the goodwill of the bhaktas  is being exploited to spread hatred and dis-affection towards several genuine civil society organizations with deep convictions and people friendly actions by systematic corporate PR. blind faith and bhakthi have always been close twins and one can always be taken for the other.

the government had initiated action against civil society immediately on its ascend. if you were to consider statement that 'many Indians were ashamed to be known as Indians' a year ago, then, civil society that works to articulate this sentiment of Indians ought to be celebrated rather than scrutinized by this government. can anyone take every single campaign that green peace has handled and argue which one of these are anti-national and how? is it anti-development to fight pollution? is it anti-national to talk on behalf of the farmers? is it anti-progress to demand healthy food in the plate for the next generation? is it anti-common sense to seek the banning of the GM rice in a country which houses the largest diversity of rice in the world? is shaming the corporate greed in public, showcasing the irony of our times through bold campaigns considered anti-government? which government that takes its country's environment and people's health seriously can see such campaigns as a threat?

i don't think arguing the broad generic 'threats' to this country for the purpose of corporate convenience instead of specific issues justifies the action against civil society organizations. india is sustained by the adherence to several social norms and customs by a very large section of the population often influenced and facilitated by civil society agencies ranging from freely travelling sadhus to the more organized NGOs with several crore turn-over. while no one can challenge the government's prerogative in wanting to ensure that all NGOs adhere to all statutory norms, the enjoined campaign against the NGOs run through the corporate controlled media seems to want to instill a lack of trust on all that any NGO may say on any issue that can affect corporate profit. such a portrayal is dangerous for the welfare and progress of any society.

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