The Indian Prime-Minister has started an open tirade against the movement opposing the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. In his recent interview, he alleged that it is “foreign-hand” and NGOs with American funding that are blocking India’s progress, not only in nuclear energy but also in GMOs.
It is one occasion where we can agree with our Prime Minister.
It is important to understand today that the anti-nuclear movement in the country is a voice from beyond the existing system. Entirely foreign to the Manmohan Singh’s imagination of India.
The ‘illiterate’ fisherfolk in Koodankulam today earn at least thrice more than what they would earn in the employment guarantee scheme if they become part of the Manmohan-land governed by primitive market policies. Through opposing the reactor, a sustainably-living community is basically refusing to be part of the neo-liberal India. It is not only foreign to our PM’s imagination, it is essentially opposite to what his economics stands for.
The local administration in Jaitapur, in its attempt to ‘reach out’ and ‘educate’ people after their massive protests, went to the Madban village with vehicles loaded with armed men. Nobody from the village came out to welcome them except an old women who asked: if you have come to talk, whom are you afraid of? Why all this battalion? This moral landscape of dignity of the Jaitapur women definitely has no space in the India that Manmohan Singh, Ahluwalia, Chidambaram and other ex-employees of the World Bank and IMF want to impose on us.
The compensation amount for land in Haryana, for the nuclear power plants in Gorakhpur (Fatehabad district), has been raised dramatically over last 2 years. This month, it was raised to 34 hundred thousands rupees per acre of land. This is an unthinkable amount in India for farmers. One of the main reasons to plan a reactor in Haryana, criminally overlooking other requisites of setting-up reactors, was the assumption that farmers there are more likely to agree on better compensation. But the farmers of Gorakhpur and surrounding villages have refused to accept this amount, at the cost of their health, safety and livelihoods, particularly after Fukushima. This is beyond the neo-liberal mindset of our ruling class, where nothing is more than just a commodity.
The malicious allegations of ‘foreign-hand’ have been levelled against the anti-nuclear movement for quite some time now. Manmohan Singh’s minister V. Narayanswamy had to be embarrassed and retract from this allegation early this month when S P Udayakumar of of PMANE in Koodankulam sent him a defamation notice. But now the PM himself has come up with same cheap allegation: the anti-nuclear movement is funded by Americans and it is opposing the Russian reactors in Koodankulam. What he chooses not to see is: the same movement is also opposing American reactors coming up in Gujarat, French EPRs coming up in Jaitapur and indigenous reactors being constructed in places like Chutka and Fatehabad.
Dr. S P Udayakumar has announced that he would sue the Prime Minister for this malicious allegation. In a recent interview, answering where the movement gets funds from, he says: “I would request you to read the books on freedom struggle or at least read My Experiments With Truth written by Mahatma Gandhi. Which corporate lobby funded the freedom struggle that was led by him? The PM or his media kids should read it at least once. It’s only then that they would learn how to make great movements for a cause. The lessons he had learnt as an economist are not good for this country but only for some corporate giants with hidden agendas.”
The anti-nuclear movement today is a pointer to the huge crisis that India and the world is facing. It’s a call from beyond the profit-driven political-economy that is destroying people, nature and the entire fabric of our society. It is time we hear these urgent voices, coming from a space that belongs to us, that we have left behind our greed, that should be our future if we have to sustain. Our future lies in this other India that we have dangerously made ‘foreign’ to our consciousness today.