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The IB Report: A Potential Threat To The Real National Interest And Security

By Sukumaran C. V.

30 June, 2014
Countercurrents.org

The following is the first paragraph of the notorious IB report (IR/IS No. 002):

“A significant number of Indian NGOs (funded by some donors based in US, UK, Germany and Netherlands) have been noticed to be using people centric issues to create an environment which lends itself to stalling development projects. These include agitations against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, Coal Fired Power Plants (CFPPs), Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), mega industrial projects (POSCO and Vedanta), hydel projects (at Narmada Sagar; and in Arunachal Pradesh) and extractive industries (oil, limestone) in the North East. The negative impact on GDP growth is assessed to be 2-3% p. a.”

If you peruse the 20 page IB report, you will feel that even if the IB is very poor in its linguistic skills, it is very rich in its unconditional support to the corporate giants that destroy the Environment and the livelihood of the vast majority of common people of this nation and are potential threats to the national security and wellbeing, if national security means the security and wellbeing of the common people.

On the 7th page of the report, the IB says that ‘Greenpeace expanded its activities to oppose Coal Fired Power Plants (CFPP) and coal mining activity…While its efforts to raise obstacles to India’s coal-based energy plans are gathering pace, it has also started spawning mass-based movements against development projects and is assessed to be posing a potential threat to national economic security.’

The IB report is absolutely correct to discern that the mass-based movements are posing a potential threat to ‘national economic security’. But IB should specify whose economic security is dubbed as ‘national’. And IB should develop the intelligence to know that mass-based movements are not ‘spawned’ by NGOs, they are born when the very existence of the people is threatened by the ‘economic security’ of the corporate world. Indian National Movement under the leadership of the Mahatma was a mass-based movement and it was not ‘spawned’ by a foreign funded agency, but by the people of India and the reason was that the colonial rule and exploitation were threatening the very survival of the people.

What the colonial rule had been doing to India and its people is exactly what is being done to the people today by the corporate world with the help of our own rulers and their IBs.

When I went through the report, I felt that IB might have erroneously typed ‘national’ instead of ‘corporate’ in front of the words ‘economic security’, because mass-based movements are posing a potential threat to development projects that are meant only for the corporate economic security at the cost of the poor and the Environment. The report talks about corporate giants like Coal India Limited (CIL), Hindalco, Aditya Birla Group, Essar, Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) and POSCO as if they are the hapless victims of mass movements!

Intelligence Bureau of the largest democracy in the world is not at all concerned with and bothered about the misery the so called development projects brings on the people by displacing and disinheriting them en masse.

If national interest means the welfare of the vast millions of the poor and the ordinary people of the nation, arguing for nuclear power plants and GDP centric ‘growth’ and the so called economic development does have nothing to do with it.

To see that the use of the ‘nuclear energy’ has done more destructive work than any creative or useful service to the living world, no expertise is needed. The terrible history of nuclear ‘energy’ starts with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is high time the advocates of the nuclear energy (and nuclear weapons too) learnt that, as Derrick Jensen says, ‘the planet had already come up with the best solution for storing uranium: keep it in its natural state underground.’

It is from natural uranium the fissionable isotope uranium 235 or enriched uranium—the fuel for nuclear reactors—is separated. And what is left of this process of separation is called depleted uranium (DU). “The term depleted uranium is something of a misnomer in that it implies that the remaining uranium has become significantly less dangerous, more, well, depleted. But depleted uranium—99.8 percent uranium 238—is just as toxic and about 60 percent as radioactive as enriched uranium. And with a half-life of 4.5 billion years, it will truly be one of this culture’s trademark gifts that keeps on giving: it will kill essentially forever.” (Derrick Jensen)

If the DU, the left over, is so dangerously radioactive and cancerous, we can simply presume the destructive capacity of the enriched uranium—the fuel used in the nuclear reactors— and its waste. Enriched uranium and its waste release alpha and beta radiation that causes cancer and genetic mutations. Whatever the short term gains of nuclear power may be, it is stupidity of the highest level to advocate it or to argue for it. It is against national security, if national security does mean the safety and wellbeing of the people.

I wonder why the IB, that is so worried about the ‘economic security’ of the corporate world that it even dubs it as ‘national’, failed to see the misery of the millions of tribal people displaced and disinherited by the ‘development projects’! In The Greater Common Good, Arundhati Roy writes about the misery and agony of the tribal people displaced by the Narmada Sarovar Dam:

Many of those who have been resettled are people who have lived all their lives deep in the forest with virtually no contact with money... Suddenly they find themselves left with the option of starving to death or walking several kilometers to the nearest town, sitting in the marketplace (both men and women) offering themselves as wage labour, like goods on sale.

In several resettlement sites, people have been dumped in rows of corrugated tin sheds that are furnaces in summer and fridges in winter.

Instead of a forest from which they gathered everything they needed—food, fuel, fodder, rope, gum, tobacco, tooth powder, medicinal herbs, housing materials—they earn between ten and twenty rupees a day with which to feed and keep their families. In their old villages, they had no money, but they were insured. If the rains failed, they had the forests to turn to. The river to fish in. Their livestock was their fixed deposit. Without all this, they’re a heartbeat away from destitution

In Vadaj, a resettlement site I visited near Baroda, the man who was talking to me rocked his sick baby in his arms... Children collected around us, taking care not to burn their bare skin on the scorching tin walls of the shed they call a home. The man’s mind was far away from the troubles of his sick baby. He was making me a list of fruits he used to pick in the forest. He counted forty-eight kinds. He told me that he didn’t think he or his children would ever be able to afford to eat any fruit again…I asked him what was wrong with his baby. He said it would be better for the baby to die than live like this.

Will the IB listen to, and feel the agony expressed in, the words of this hapless man who was rooted out of his home and surroundings by the ‘development projects’? Does the Intelligence Bureau have the intelligence to see that by damming Narmada, we have damned not only the river but also thousands of the adivasis who have been living in the forests the dams submerged, since time immemorial? Does the IB have the intelligence and guts to tell its political masters that instead of raising the height of the Narmada Sarovar Dam by 17 metres, we have to bulldoze it in order not to deprive the poor of their livelihood and native places?

Ram Bai, who was displaced from her village that was submerged when the Bargi dam was built on the Narmada, and forced to live in a slum in Jabalpur says: “Why didn’t they just poison us? Then we wouldn’t have to live in this shit-hole and the Government could have survived along with its precious dam all to itself.”

When a democracy doesn’t listen to the words of the people like Ram Bai and doesn’t stop creating large number of hapless people like the tribal man who says that it would be better for his baby to die, it ceases to be a democracy.

And if we stand for the real national interest, as Arundhati Roy says in her Broken Republic, “let’s take a brief look at the star attraction in the mining belt—the several trillion dollars’ worth of bauxite. There is no environmentally sustainable way of mining bauxite and processing it into aluminum. It’s a highly toxic process that most Western countries have exported out of their environments. To produce one tonne of aluminium, you need about six tonnes of bauxite, more than a thousand tonnes of water and a massive amount of electricity. For that amount of captive water and electricity, you need big dams, which, as we know, come with their own cycle of cataclysmic destruction. Last of all—the big question—what is the aluminium for? Where is it going? Aluminium is a principal ingredient in the weapons industry—for other countries’ weapons industries.”

We destroy the hills and forests of the tribal people who consider them as sacred, and dig out bauxite and produce aluminium and export it and thus gain ‘economic development’ and the terrorists who want to destroy India buy the weapons and ‘develop’ the economies of those countries which produce them, and the weapons created by the aluminium that we extracted by destructing our own environment and the livelihood of the poor return to destroy our own nation! Yet we continue extracting bauxite in the name of ‘economic development’ and ‘national interest’! And to ‘protect’ the ‘national interest’, we procure more sophisticated weapons and help the weapons industry thrive. The vicious cycle goes on and on destroying everything. And we can see whose economy is being developed in the name of ‘economic development’ and whose interest is being served in the name of ‘national interest’.

I am watching anxiously the Niyamgiri people’s attempts to rescue their hills and forests and their life-style which depends on hunting, gathering and shifting cultivation, from the clutches of VAL. Instead of protecting the sacred hills and forests of the tribals called Dongriya Kondhs, the state has been trying to evict them from their dense forests that spread across 670 hectares covering the four Niyamgiri hills; and the corporate giant Vedanta has been waiting as a vulture to dig out an estimated 72 million tonnes of bauxite, dismantling the forest cover of the Nyamgiri hills which are worshipped by the Kondhs as their god—Niyamraja. Vedanta has already constructed an aluminium refining and smelting plant (which cost it $1 billion dollar) at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, and under an agreement with the company, Odisha government is required to provide raw material for the plant for 20 years! The raw material is bauxite and it is buried under the Niyamgiri hills. Can the God of the Niyamgiri tribals be saved? He is in the iron-grip of the state and a corporate giant.

But our IB doesn’t see the Niyamraja, it doesn’t see the Dogriya Kondhs, it doesn’t see the dense forest cover which is so precious in this age of Climate Change. And the IB report callously says: “Vedanta has been embroiled in protracted negotiations with the Orissa Government, regulators and NGOs since 2003, to complete its bauxite mining project, meant to feed its already constructed Lanjigarh alumina refinery.” See how ‘sad’ IB is: “Besides a sustained opposition from 15 Indian NGOs, 3 UK-based organizations, namely Amnesty International, Action Aid and Survival International have been campaigning extensively against VAL”

NGOs like the Greenpeace India are working against this mining business which destroys our mountains and rivers and the still remaining meager forest cover and poses grave existential threat to the already dwindled wildlife including the survival of our national animal. Does it mean that its ‘agenda’ is ‘against national interest’ as the IB report claims?

Our national interest will certainly be served, if our corporate servile IB and its political bosses try to understand the horrible condition to which the arguments for the sake of ‘development projects’ and the ‘national economic security’ the IB report refers to have dragged the human race. Way back in 1962, Rachel Carson wrote in her Silent Spring:

The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world—the very nature of its life. Strontium 90, released through nuclear explosions into air, comes to earth in rain or drifts down as fallout, lodges in soil, enters into the grass or corn or wheat grown there, and in time takes up its abode in the bones of a human being, there to remain until his death. Similarly, chemicals sprayed on croplands lie long in soil, entering into living organisms, passing from one to another in a chain of poisoning and death. Or they pass mysteriously by underground streams until they emerge and, through the alchemy of air and sunlight, combine into new forms that kill vegetation, sicken cattle, and work unknown harm on those who drink from once-pure wells. As Albert Schweitzer has said, ‘Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.’

Nowhere in the IB report, people and their misery caused by the coal and bauxite mining, are mentioned, let alone the destruction of the Environment and the wildlife and the existential threat the mining business poses to the still remaining forest cover and biodiversity. The 72nd paragraph of the report says: “Corridor Virodhi Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti organized a dharna (300-350/Azad maidan, Mumbai/May 1, 2013) to protest against the forcefully encroachment of farmers land for Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).” You may wonder what ‘forcefully encroachment of farmers land’ does mean. I have already mentioned the poor linguistic skill of the IB personnel. They might have meant forceful encroachment of farmers’ land. The paragraph continues: “Indian National Social Action Forum (INSAF) organized a meeting (Jaipur/February 20, 2014), which while discussing the issue of DMIC, observed that the Government is acquiring the land of farmers over the name of (IB might have meant in the name of) DMC and INSAF activist have (IB should have either typed activist has or activists) to alert the farmers over this issue that one day the farmers will be landless in the country.”

Does the IB have the intelligence to see that the words of the INSAF will turn to be prophetic if the largest democracy’s Intelligence Bureau and Government behave as if they are the advocates of the likes of CIL, VAL, Essar and POSCO that undermine the safety and security of the people of this great nation?

PS: I am not arguing against transparency or scrutiny in NGO funding. It is needed not only in NGO funding but in that of even the political parties and the so called religious and cultural organizations.

Sukumaran C. V. is a former JNU student and his articles on gender, communalism and environmental degradation are published in The Hindu. Email: lscvsuku@gmail.com

 




 

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