Eating our way to rice-diversity

By Sreedevi Lakshmi Kutty, ENS – THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

04th July 2012 11:11 AM

  • Studies have established that the causative link to diabetes is with “polished white rice” not any rice. EPS
    Studies have established that the causative link to diabetes is with “polished white rice” not any rice. EPS

Recently, studies have established that the causative link to diabetes is with “polished white rice” not any rice. It is increasingly being established that unpolished red and brown rice do not cause diabetes.

Rice is my soul food, what I long for when I am hungry and what I miss when I don’t get it. Belonging to the post-green revolution generation, white rice came into our family pretty early despite living in the land of red rice, Kerala.

When we were young, my great grandmother who cultivated our ancestral paddy lands used to send us unpolished parboiled red rice. When she became bedridden the lands were left fallow, eventually sold, and the money used to buy a then much-coveted refrigerator, prompting my mother to say, “we sold our rice-growing lands to buy an ice-box to store stale-cooked rice!”

I lived in different cities in India and abroad and bought polished white rice. I was concerned about the quality and price, beyond that I didn’t think it mattered. Moving to Mumbai, I found that the south Indian stores provided red rice; sadly, this was red only in name and appearance. The colour washed off like from a bad fabric!

Paddy Problems

It was at this juncture, as part of my work with agriculture and food issues, I got involved with the ‘Save Our Rice’ campaign. It was at this time that the spread of diabetes in India, particularly in the south, began to be associated with the consumption of rice.

Recently, studies have established that the causative link to diabetes is with “polished white rice” not any rice. It is increasingly being established that unpolished red and brown rice do not cause diabetes. In fact, red rice is known to have many beneficial health effects and is also nutritionally superior.

Watching and sharing the dilemma of the farmers, I realised that we as consumers have a role in reviving rice.

To save agro-biodiversity, we have to eat diverse foods, thereby promoting their cultivation and propagation -that is exactly how rice consumers will become rice savers!

Whither Rice-diversity

We, in India, are rich in rice heritage and had till about 40 years back over 1,10,000 varieties of rice; now we are down to about 6,000 varieties, according to Dr Debal Deb, one of the foremost rice savers in India.

Why do we need this diversity? We need it to keep the robustness of the crop and diversity aids the evolution of stronger and more adaptable varieties.

And how do we protect this diversity? Simply by growing and eating. The more varieties of rice we all eat, greater the range of varieties farmers will grow season after season.

Rice Delights

During the last few years I have eaten various kinds of red rice – raw and par boiled with full bran or partly removed, the fragrant ‘Gandhakasala’ from Wayanad, the smell of which tempted my aged and ill father to eat rice after many days, ‘Mullankazhama’ – a lovely flower-like rice which makes delicious ‘payasam’ and the small grained brown rice called ‘Komal’, cultivated by Susheel an organic farmer and a good friend.

I have also come across other rice varieties like the ‘Rajamudi’ rice used by the Wadiyars of Mysore, the fascinating variety named ‘Thavalakannan’ (literally means frog’s eyes) which is favoured by temples in Kerala for preparing beaten rice flakes and ‘Njavara’ rice that is recommended for diabetics. There are rice varieties that are good for lactating women and numerous rices with medicinal properties as well.

Why don’t we unearth some of the indigenous rices we have and their uses and find innovative ways to cook them for our families?  In Karnataka, farmers are conserving around 140 varieties of rice, in Tamil Nadu, around 40 varieties are distributed every year through a seed mela, groups in Wayanad are trying to conserve traditional varieties used by the tribals, even in Thane, Mumbai, over a hundred varieties of rice are being conserved.

‘Natabara Sarangi’, a rice saver in Orissa, conserves 310 varieties. But, we need more rice savers who relish traditional rice, to conserve the most valuable grain known to mankind.

(The author works with groups promoting safe food, urban farming and sustainable agriculture and currently lives in The Hague, Netherlands)

Genetic wealth belongs to people

The Government of India has been vocal at the CBD fora asking for a legally binding international regime on access and benefit-sharing. The doublespeak is that in its national law – the BD Act, it merely asks for consultation with ‘benefit claimers’. The BD Act does not ask for the full prior informed consent (PIC) of India’s people.

India is host to mega biological diversity. The Government of India (GoI) is to host a mega gathering of the international convention on this subject – the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in Hyderabad in October this year. It is at the CBD table that the world community attempts agreements on conservation.

While the CBD affirms that conservation of biological diversity is a ‘common concern of humankind’, it makes clear that biological resources are not global common goods! On the contrary it lays down that States have sovereign rights over their biological resources. Thereby sovereign states are meant to have original authority on biological resources in their territorial jurisdiction. Being in a state of sovereignty implies that the state administers its own governance. At the local level it translates into not being dependent upon, or subject to, either another power or external forces.

This sovereignty principle was required to check the use of local resources sans any acknowledgement of the host country’s people, or without either taking their permission or sharing benefits with the biodiversity-keepers and knowledge-holders – the indigenous and local communities. That is why the member countries of the CBD also negotiated rules under the Convention for access and benefit-sharing (ABS), which spell out the terms and conditions to legalise the ‘give-and-take’.
The Convention on Biological Diversity was meant to settle any confusion about whom this living genetic matter belongs to. To the people. Yet national laws and policies in many countries, including India, fail to address this very real question.

The sovereignty principle of CBD in no way means that governments or any state agencies can unilaterally take decisions about how local resources and related know-how of them ought to be used. Thus national gene banks, agricultural universities and any biodiversity functionaries have to hold and treat the genetic material in trust on behalf of the people. The Convention was meant to settle any confusion about whom this living genetic matter belongs to. To the people. Yet national laws and policies in many countries, including India, fail to address this very real question.

The Indian Parliament passed a law in 2002 – the Biological Diversity (BD) Act, to give effect to the CBD in domestic space. But it does not make any declaration whatsoever on the legal status of people’s resources or their everyday know-how related to the biological world. It ought to have unambiguously spelled out very clearly that the biological resources and related people’s knowledge are all a collective heritage. The CBD principle does not in any way give the Parliament or the Executive the power to define the legal status of these resources. Thus lawmakers, government bureaucrats or for that matter even formal scientists are not to define people’s relations with biological resources and knowledge, but they have to give due recognition to the pre-existing traditional relations of people’s with their local biological world.

The express silence in legal texts and policy statements is giving the public sector too much freeway to do as they please with this treasure. This is misuse of national sovereign power and abuse of representative democracy. Matters are made worse instead by clearly defined legal rules of intellectual property (IP). What IP laws, such as those for patents or plant variety protection (PVP), do is to clearly define the rights of the IP-holder. Therein again is ambiguity about legal freedoms for the original knowledge-holders. The number of PVP applications before the current PVP Authority in India shows maximum number being filed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and agricultural universities under it. (See story: “Protecting Oryza in Odisha” ) The PVP-protected varieties become public sector property for the term of the IP. This has also given ICAR the arrogance to treat national collections as their private property. (See story: “India Institute seeks expertise in global seed business” )

The NARES in India races along to fill out such IP claims. The farmers who were the first to invent local varieties, rather than the first to file before the Authority are falling behind. Based on this politics, even the time period within which local small traditional growers can file for such IP protection under the category of ‘farmers’ varieties’ has been restricted for five years (2009-2013). This puts an expiry date on farmers’ creativity! All this also comes in the way of realising people’s sovereignty over their living resources.

India is a key country in the CBD. Not only as host, but also a country that has the capacity to give global leadership on these contentious issues on the strength of the bio-cultural ethos of its people. The GoI has also been a strong voice at the CBD fora asking for a legally binding international regime on access and benefit-sharing. The doublespeak is that in its national law – the BD Act, it merely asks for consultation with ‘benefit claimers’. The BD Act does not ask for the full prior informed consent (PIC) of India’s people. The experience in the last eight years of the Act, since the Rules (2004) were notified is that the procedures for even just consultation are rarely followed. The oft mentioned case in this context of an Indian agricultural university passing on genetic material to a US MNC for the development of genetically engineered brinjal, without any due procedure or consultation, elaborates the point. In this way at home the regulatory regime is not fully complying with the CBD that the GoI so loudly defends outside.
Philippines is already a country remembered as the first amongst biodiversity-rich ‘developing’ countries to issue a bioprospecting and benefit-sharing regulation – the Executive Order 247. That order issued in May 1995 expressly mentioned that “wildlife, flora and fauna, among others, are owned by the State”.

Last year in Asia the Republic of Philippines made a first. On 25th May 2011, by a Proclamation No.78, the President of the Philippines declared the years 2011 to 2020 as the National Decade on Biodiversity in the Philippines. President Benigno S. Aquino III saw the opportunity to increase awareness of the importance of biodiversity and promote actions at the national, provincial, and local levels to conserve and sustainably manage the nation’s rich natural heritage. By the Proclamation “(a)ll branches and agencies of the Government, including, but not limited to, commissions, national government agencies, local government units, state universities and colleges, government-owned and-controlled corporations, in cooperation with the private sectors of society, community organisations, and non-government organisations, are hereby enjoined to initiate activities to promote the Biodiversity Decade”. Philippines is already a country remembered as the first amongst biodiversity-rich ‘developing’ countries to issue a bioprospecting and benefit-sharing regulation – the Executive Order 247. That order issued in May 1995 expressly mentioned that “wildlife, flora and fauna, among others, are owned by the State”.

The term ‘state’ implies the whole body of people who are united under one government, whatever be the form of their government. In other words biological diversity is a collective national heritage. It follows that neither can the government begin to stake its claims on it (just as the NARES in India is doing by seeking plant variety registration over crop varieties developed by public sector breeders), nor can laws of private property and commercial interest (such as patent legislation that permit corporations to in effect own genes and living material).

In another South Asian country – Bangladesh, the draft Biodiversity and Community Knowledge Protection Act, in Article 6 articulates the CBD principle of sovereign rights over biological resources to mean belonging in perpetuity to the people of Bangladesh and held for past, present and future members of the country. That is why perhaps the Act stays as a draft! The ASEAN Framework Agreement was designed to require not only the active involvement of local communities but also insisted respect for their customary laws, practices and protocols. In Costa Rica, while the domestic law describes the content of the PIC. It also requires full discussions with the local indigenous communities prior to any access. When in Brazil there was a proposal for a constitutional amendment to make all genetic resources part of the national and cultural heritage, peoples raised their voice to have that clearly subject to their claims. For governments often hide behind rhetoric of national heritage to do as they please in supposed ‘public interest’. For people the state of being sovereign has to be constantly negotiated, struggled for and practised everyday.

The President is the Head of State of the Republic of India. Executive power of the Union is vested in the President. It implies that the President’s office has all the powers of the Central Government. Therefore, if and when the GoI is not clearing the air on these vital matters, the Head of the State ought to step in. While one part of GoI takes centre-stage on biodiversity and organises celebrations on World Biodiversity Day (22nd May), outside the hall its other functionaries can not be allowed to hold an exhibition-cum-sale of those very resources. The curtain has to fall on this. It is therefore only fitting that a clearly worded declaration of Indian people’s sovereignty over their biological resources, come from that high office. That would be a fitting finale by Her Excellency the President of India to these debates. The nation, rather the nation’s people, needs closure to this high drama by due recognition of people’s biodiversity sovereignty.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of d-sector editorial team.

Shalini Bhutani  |

Shalini is a lawyer and works on issues of trade, agriculture and biodiversity.

India Institute Seeks Expertise in Global Seed Business


NEW DELHI – Blessed with one of the world’s most diverse seed gene banks, India’s premier state-run agriculture research institute is seeking to collaborate with multinational seed corporations to develop high-yielding, durable seeds — both for profit and to improve the nation’s poor crop yields, a senior official at the institute said.

The Indian Council of Agriculture Research would offer its partners its massive seed gene bank in exchange for expertise and a share of the profits, ICAR deputy director general Swapan K. Datta said.

ICAR has already sought the government’s approval for such tie-ups, which would enable it to tap into an international seed market worth $200 billion annually, Mr. Datta said late Thursday.

Datta said such collaboration is crucial to developing higher-yielding seeds for Indian farmers.

“We know that we are rich in germplasm [seed genes]. But we also need the next generation of genetics,” he said. “We have to do it.”

ICAR hopes to collaborate on the development of a variety of high-yielding, climate-tolerant seeds that could be used in India and elsewhere.

It is likely to attract plenty of potential suitors. ICAR could offer around 400,000 varieties of native germplasm, many of which could be used to develop crops that could withstand adverse conditions such as those created by global warming, Mr. Datta said.

Despite its abundant resources, India has captured only around 2% of the global seed market due to lack of expertise and marketing. Efforts to introduce genetically modified crops have largely met with resistance from social groups.

“We have crops that are being grown and adapted very naturally to different geographies. So we have drought-tolerant rice, terminal-heat tolerant wheat and salinity-tolerant crop varieties,” he said.

Mr. Datta said collaborating with multinationals could be hugely profitable, but the bigger benefit might be offering modern technology to Indian farmers to help them meet the challenge of feeding the nation’s ever-growing population.

“We really wouldn’t mind taking a small share of the profits. What would be more important is if we could use such collaborations to bring high-yielding seeds to our farmers at 50% of the cost,” Mr. Datta said.

Boosting the farm productivity is critical because India has little scope for expanding the area under cultivation. Though the nation currently enjoys surpluses in grain staples such as rice and wheat, it must import oilseeds and pulses.

On the other hand, the scope for increasing productivity is immense. For example, Canada’s productivity of pulses exceeds India’s by more than two-and-a-half times.

Write to Biman Mukherji at

Infographic: In 80 Years, We Lost 93% Of Variety In Our Food Seeds




  • Seeds are tricky things. On one hand, we have the whole Omnivore’s Dilemma argument, that industrialized and genetically engineered food is probably bad. And on the other, we have strains of vegetables that can grow four times as much produce on the same plot of land as their heirloom counterparts–a successful, man-dictated genetics that we’ve actually been fueling for millennia. After all, we wouldn’t have the heirloom seeds of today if our grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather hadn’t saved the seeds from the sweetest watermelons or the most drought-resistant cantaloupes.

I don’t know that any of us can honestly assess the repercussions of our actions, but I do know one thing: This National Geographic infographic by John Tomanio is staggering. Using the metaphor of a tree, it charts the loss of U.S. seed variety from 1903 to 1983. And what you see is that we’ve lost about 93% of our unique seed strands behind some of the most popular produce. (Clever details: Where the root system should be strong, Tomanio has rendered a tree that looks like it could tip right out of the ground.)

In 1903, we had almost 500 varieties of lettuce. By 1983, we had just 36. Radishes, peas, and beets have fared no better. In fact, the most steadfast of the crops has been the tomato, which, probably due to the popularity of strange and tasty heirloom varieties, only lost about 80% of its seed diversity. It’s a shame to lose so many intricacies of nature’s tastiest gifts. But more worryingly, monocultures strip the land of nutrients: Where you once had self-sustaining harvest cycles, you get farm land denuded of nutrients that then needs copious chemical fertilizers to grow more food. And the crops themselves become vulnerable to plant diseases.

Still, a lot has changed in the public consciousness since 1983. Farmers markets aren’t just for hippies anymore–they’re lifestyle statements for everyone from young foodies to soccer moms. And as long as this trend stays alive, so too will many of the heirloom seed strands we have remaining.

[Image: NixPhotography/Shutterstock]



Paddy Museum: Preserving his inheritance

Ghani Khan
Organic farmer Ghani Khan’s project, a paddy museum, will soon be ready

Fired by zeal for conservation of genetic diversity in crops, an organic farmer from the Mysore region has embarked on a project to establish what is reckoned to be India’s first paddy museum.

Ghani Khan of Kirugavulu in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district cultivates and conserves more than 300 varieties of paddy and rice, most of which do not make it to the market and may be lost to posterity.

However, Mr. Khan, who has inherited his forefathers’ farmland donated by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan more than 200 years ago, has converted his 20-acre-plot to a genetic hotspot with a variety of crops, dominated by paddy and mango. His paddy project has led him to convert a portion of his house into a museum, which will be ready in a few months’ time.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Khan said paddy varieties conserved by him include Jeerge Sanna, Gandasale, Bilinellu, Raskadam, Rajmudi and Pakistan Basmati, to name a few, and he has dedicated nearly 3 acres of land for their cultivation and demonstration.


“The first floor of my house will be converted to a paddy museum, where samples of nearly 300 varieties of paddy acquired from different places, cultivated and preserved by me, will be on display,” said Mr. Khan, who continues to acquire rare varieties of paddy and augment his collection.

He said he had invested half his income in developing the paddy museum, and a senior farmer would be invited to inaugurate it, he added. While the paddy museum was expected to draw like-minded conservationists to his farm, Mr. Khan also gets regular visitors for the rare mangoes he cultivates. At the last count, there were 120 varieties of mango in his farm including Mangmari, Jeerge Maavu, Shakkargubbi and Mosambi ka aam, none of which are commonly available.


“I have preserved these varieties of mango as an inheritance from my forefathers and maintain the orchards with utmost care, though I do not get any support from the Government for this,” he said.

Notwithstanding his efforts and drive to protect crop diversity, the going is tough for Mr. Khan owing to loss of income, as 3 acres of land is earmarked for paddy demonstration. “It is easy to introduce Alphonso and Badami in my orchard, which will increase my earnings. But if I cease to cultivate or fail to conserve these varieties, they will be lost to posterity,” Mr. Khan remarked.


Apart from a token award and a title of Krishi Pandit, which is routinely conferred on farmers every year, there is little by way of Government assistance for Mr. Khan, who was promised that his orchard and farmland would be declared a biodiversity hotspot.

Though he is under tremendous pressure from his well-wishers and a few of his family members to switch to conventional agriculture, the conservationist in him refuses to compromise.

However, Mr. Khan has support from the Bangalore-based Sahaja Samruddha, an organic farmers’ association that provides him market linkage.

Not content with cultivating and conserving, Mr. Khan has tied up with the local government school, whose students visit the farm to learn about organic and natural farming “This is important, as the new generation of children even in villages are fast losing touch with the natural world and believe in chemical farming,” said Mr. Khan.

Biodiversity under threat: From 1,10,000 varieties of rice to only 6,000 now

Debal Deb, a rice conservationist, is working to prepare a seed bank of 700 varieties of traditional rice

He has a collection of traditional varieties of rice, including the rare three-seed rice that has become extinct. Fired by a passion to conserve the diversity of rice in India, he is on a mission to interact with farmers and share his know-how with them in a bid to popularise the traditional rice variety in the country.

Meet Debal Deb, an ecologist by training but who is a full-time rice conservationist working on a demonstration farmland near Rayagada in Odisha in a bid to prepare a seed bank of the 700 varieties of traditional rice.

Dr. Deb was in Mandya to participate and interact with farmers on issues related to conservation. He made a brief visit to Mysore on Thursday.

“India had nearly 1,10,000 varieties of rice till 1970 and this diversity has been lost to posterity as a result of the green revolution with its emphasis on mono culture and hybrid crops. Now, only 6,000 species or varieties of rice survive. The destruction of the rice diversity of the country is a contribution of the green revolution,” Dr. Deb said.

Interacting with mediapersons, Dr. Deb pointed out that rice emerged in India 14,000 years ago and with a single variety, farmers experimented and amplified the genetic diversity and in the course of the last 10,000 years, there emerged 1,10,000 varieties of rice of which only 6,000 survive.

“It is shocking that agricultural scientists, universities and research institutes do not accord importance to rice diversity or its conservation, and after having spent billions of rupees on research, scientists have failed to develop the aromatic rice variety which the ancient but unknown farmers developed,” said Dr. Deb, who believes in the ingenuity of farmers to enrich the diversity.

Among the other rare collection of rice varieties, Dr. Deb’s demonstration farm has the double grain rice called Jugal, which was developed in West Bengal five centuries ago. Sateer is a three-grain rice which has become extinct. Incidentally, Dr. Deb is the only person in the country to have a repository of this rare variety of rice.

“After the green revolution, a generation of farmers in India were injected with the belief that traditional farming methods were unscientific or anti-progress and they came to believe in the efficacy of high-cost and high-end scientific research. But the traditional varieties of rice were rich in iron and protein content, vitamin B, and had medicinal value,” Dr. Deb said.

However, his interaction with farmers in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, parts of Maharashtra has convinced him that the new generation was not only receptive to ideas of conserving the traditional rice varieties but were concerned about the impact of chemical farming on environment.

“While I have no hope in the government, humble farmers can be trusted to conserve the traditional rice varieties for posterity,” said Dr. Deb who recently shifted his demonstration plot and rice seed bank from West Bengal to Odisha.

Drawing a co-relation between declining agricultural income and mono culture, Dr. Deb advocated crop diversity and said it is the best insurance against uncertainty in the market due to glut in production of any one variety of crop, as farmers can fall back on other crops for income.

India and Foreign Hand

 Indian toiling people like the peasants, workers, Adivasis and dalits have suffered the cruellest aspects of the foreign hand. The deceit, sadism and the helplessness of a colonized people cannot be worse when the British imperialists under the premiership of Winston Churchill diverted grain for British war abroad, resulting in the Great Bengal Famine where millions of people died of starvation. “We got a taste of foreign hand”. Hence, we really cannot forget the foreign hand and so we are still struggling to fight that foreign hand. Broad masses of the working people and other artisans cannot forget the fact now that their indigenous textile industries and other crafts were destroyed.

The Adivasis are offering stiff resistance to the present foreign hands like Wall Street, hot money flowing via POSCO, Vedanta, Areva, etc., and their local agents like Manmohan Singh who have thrown open their resources, forests, livelihood and habitats cheaply for rapacious national and multinational corporations. It is the continuation of a glorious tradition of Adivasis’ rebellions led by Birsa Munda, Sidhu Kano, in the Santhal Parganas, and Chhitu Kirad in the Bhil region of western MP and eastern Gujarat. From Rajmahal Hills in the east to Khandesh in the west, the heroic Adivasi uprisings fought against the then foreign hand – the marauding British imperial invaders, who were out to usurp their land, livelihood and territories. They brutally colonized northeast; even in the post-independent era the Indian state betrayed the democratic aspiration of the people of northeast and resorted to the worst kind of neo-colonial plunder, brutally suppressing the peoples’ aspirations for a dignified life with barbaric state repression under draconian laws like AFPSA. The Adivasis had the bitter taste of foreign hand when their forests were snatched away by the British imperialists. Under the Indian Forest Act, they were declared intruders in their own habitat. There was massive deforestation for the sleepers for British Railways to plunder the natural resources of India, most of which is in Adivasi regions. Even after the transfer of power in 1947, the neo-colonial extractive plunder continues for cheap natural resources for world imperialism and their junior partners in the third world.

In India, the contemporary symbol of Uncle Sam’s hand is Manmohan Singh; like the earlier foreign hand, the British imperialists, the present dispensation is continuing with extreme repressive measures like Operation Green Hunt.

The post-war era was also the defining moment of national liberation struggle and decolonization. After the victory of the Chinese revolution and the emergence of an assertive socialist bloc, Sputnik was sent to space and Valentina Tereshkova created hopes in working women that socialism provides the necessary base for every working woman to develop her potential. Socialism was in the air, it was hope of the oppressed masses. The idea of socialism reinvigorated the trajectory of history towards national liberation, equality and dignity. World imperialism, now led by the USA, faced its nemesis socialism. Socialism was the guiding compass for the struggle for justice, democracy and equity. The European bourgeoisie took recourse to social democracy and welfare state to legitimize itself and fend off challenges posed by the socialist camp and militant trade union movement in their own countries trying to co-opt its own working classes.

Therefore, one has to deconstruct the project of decolonization in the third world countries in the context of growing attraction of the idea of socialism and the need for legitimacy of the third world ruling classes. Foreign hand again played a significant role in the lives of the oppressed masses in the third world in the so-called post-colonial world. Post-colonialism is the biggest myth because of the neo-colonial exploitation of the people and natural resources of the third world.

Absolutely intellectual slaves of imperialism and the compradors of the third world helped to perpetuate this neo-colonial exploitation. For the past two decades, Manmohan Singh has been the most crucial foreign hand in India for ruthlessly implementing the policies of neo-colonial exploitation in India. The so-called project of “Decolonization” proved to be fraudulent. Imperialism changed it from colonial exploitation to neo-colonial exploitation where the broad masses of people of the third world have entered into a direct contradiction with world imperialism.

The Bretton Woods Institutions like World Bank, and IMF of late WTO, were used as instruments of neo-colonial exploitation of the third world. In the post-war period, the cruelty of the foreign hand did not stop despite the rhetoric of “Decolonization” and “Non-Alignment”. It became more ruthless, cruel, barbaric and genocidal in the post-war period, under the leadership of the super imperial state – United States of America. The imperial horror continued. Vietnam was carpet-bombed, people sprayed up poisonous chemicals, Korea was invaded, Allende and Patrice Lumumba were murdered, hundreds of plots were made to assassinate Fidel Castro, and the great revolutionary Che Guevara was murdered. Tin-pot dictators imposed on Latin America to further enlarge the open veins of neo-colonial exploitation of its natural resources and sucking the blood of its working people. Compradors were installed in the name of regime change and so-called democracy (truly meaning exploitative bourgeois democracy and class rule). The predatory rule of the imperialist camp was managed by the local elites for their western masters as Manmohan Singh is doing now. The foreign hand was its most repulsive and sadistic impact in the recent decades.

Iraq and Afghanistan were mercilessly invaded by US-led NATO troops. Millions were killed, while the ordeal of Palestine continues under Zionist Imperialist designs. Another anti-people predatory weapon of the foreign hand has also used the anti-democratic arbitrary instrument of economic sanctions. It tried to strangle Cuba through sanctions; for appeasing the Zionist lobby, the criminal cowboy has used it against Iran recently. But the most savage, cruel and sadistic exploitative use of this monster US foreign hand was the sanction against Iraq to capture Iraq’s oil and the US imposed sanction has murdered 5 million Iraqi children much before its fascist attack on Iraq in 2003, overriding the democratic protests of the entire globe. The invasion on Iraq was most barbaric, ostensibly in the name of democracy and the non-existent weapons of mass destruction camouflaged to capture Iraq’s oil and to bring it under US imperial hegemony. Left thinker Ravi Sinha explains the attack on Iraq in the following words:

“We are all witness to and victims of the times characterized by monstrous brutalities of war and deep scars of deprivations, inequities and oppressions. We live under a world order wherein those who brought, for example, untold tragedy and destruction of Iraq, will never be brought to justice because they are global hegemons. They will not be questioned about the hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqi men, women and children; they will not be questioned about the thousands of dead and decapitated American soldiers; they will not be questioned about the trillions of dollars spent on the war and further trillions destroyed by the war; and they will not be questioned about the kind of Iraq they are leaving behind.”

Further, Ravi Sinha says about our immediate neighbourhood:

“We on the sub-continent, too, have suffered grievously and felt the heat form far too close. Afghanistan is a continuing saga of tragedy; Pakistan has been made to pay too heavy a price; and India too has not managed to steer clear of catastrophe. And we know very well that when we count the countries that have suffered, the loss is borne invariably by the people and not by their rulers. [See Ravi Sinha’s ‘Three Formidable Barriers to the Advance of Democracy’ keynote address at the joint convention of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) at Allahabad from 29 to 31 December 2011].

Well, this is the foreign hand “US imperialism”. This is the story of real foreign hand, Uncle Sam’s monstrous brutalities. The obscene saga of Yankee Imperialism. The recent global economic crisis in 2008 was created by the favourite nieces and nephews of Uncle Sam, the greedy Wall Street operators of finance capital supported by the super imperial US state, or the emperor of the modern empire. Therefore, it is necessary to expose the economic basis of US imperial power. Explaining the economic basis of imperial power, James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer write: “Imperialism has taken diverse forms over time: ‘pre-modern’, ‘modern’, or ‘post-modern’ – to use the language of Robert Cooper, advisor to Tony Blair – or, in more analytically useful terms, pre-capitalist or capitalist. Lenin, one of the major 20th century theorists of capitalist development and socialism, defined imperialism as the most advanced stage of capitalism, in which financial and industrial forms of capital are merged into large corporate monopolies that, through the dynamics of state power (military force, principally), engage in a process of carving up the world into markets for their capital and surplus production, converting subordinate countries into colonies and local ruling classes into satraps and clients. However, whatever the form taken by imperialism, it entails the projection of state power in its various forms (economic, political and military) – whatever it takes for some nations to dominate others – to advance their class or national interests and subordinate other countries to these interests.

The dominant actor involved in this projection of power and creating the resulting relations of domination-subordination within the current arena of global politics is the capitalist nation-state. It has evolved diverse forms: democratic or authoritarian, and (with reference to its dominant policy agenda) liberal or neo-liberal. Other agents of imperialism include the largest capitalist corporations, which, in popular imagery or the dominant political “imaginary” of academic, roam the world in search of returns on their investment or capital. However, these corporations are not footloose or free from consideration of national interest. Indeed, the economic interest advanced and protected by the nation-states that make up what can be termed the “imperial state system”, a system currently dominated by the US state.

Furthermore, it is these states, in their projections of military and political power, that create the conditions needed for the home-based multinational corporations to take advantage of and operate profitably in the world’s “emerging markets”. The US imperial state, both directly (via the departments of state and defense) and indirectly (via control over financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF), constitutes a directorate to manage the global systems. Just like the government of the country, the decision-making power concentrated in this directorate of the new world order (the world capitalist or imperialist system) is backed up by a repressive apparatus, the armed forces of the US State, whose maintenance and global operations cost US tax payers and US capital around $300 billion a year in 2003, at least $480 billion in 2004, and over $500 billion in 2005, including Iraq and Afghanistan supplementary budgets. (See “Empire with Imperialism – The Globalizing Dynamics of Neoliberal Capitalism”, James Petras and Henry Veltmayer. Aaakar Books, New Delhi.)

Foreign Hand and the Post-Colonial Developmental Trajectory of India :

Like elsewhere in the third world, the project of decolonization in India was equally fraudulent. Behind the veneer of “Nehruvian socialism”, “self-reliance”, “import substitution” and “non-alignment”, the Indian ruling classes maneuvered their path in the cold war rivalry to build what Prof. Randhir Singh calls “India specific capitalism”. True to the new Indian states commitment to the pre-independent “Bombay Plan”, the consumer goods sector was dominated by multinational corporations for which public money was spent to provide them infrastructure.

The public sector was projected as socialism, while in reality it was facilitating ruthless accumulation by imperialists and their Indian junior partners. Nehruvian socialism was extremely deceptive, American think-tanks like Ford Foundation imposed the so-called “Green Revolution” taking advantage of the humiliating PL-480 arrangements. Green Revolution opened up Indian agriculture for predatory penetration of imperialist capital. It was a big blow to the self-reliance and dignity of the Indian farmers. Hybrid seeds, pesticides (which were developed from Agent Orange used on Vietnamese) and chemical fertilizers were imposed on India to fill the coffers of the multinational corporations who control the seed and pesticide market. The entire Indian agriculture and the peasantry was mortgaged to the international agri-business, especially companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, etc. This is the foreign hand. Indian farmers still suffer the worst symptom of this –  the suicide of hundreds of thousands of farmers, unprecedented in Indian history.

Primitive Accumulation: Neo-Liberal Regime and Manmohan Singh the Contemporary Foreign Hand in India :

Due to the accumulation crisis suffered by global capitalism, world imperialism gave up Keynesian “demand management”, “welfare state” to adopt neo-liberalism. Oil price shock, falling rate of profit and stagnation led to the abandonment of the Bretton Woods arrangements, dollar was delinked from gold, and the collapse of the socialist camp led the imperialist masters to “Washington consensus”. The third world rulers were arm-twisted to adopt the new mantra “market fundamentalism”, where “liberalization”, “privatization” and “globalization” became the buzzword. Pauperisation, dispossession and commodification were the order of the day. Public sector, built on the sweat and toil of the working class, was sold to private players at throw-away prices. The imperialist camp, led by the US, unleashed the worst kind of primitive accumulation on the third world peasantry under the neo-liberal world economic order, forcible depeasantizationwas ruthlessly imposed on the third world peasantry to create the new reserve army of labour for predatory capital.

Following the balance of payment crisis, this World Bank employee Manmohan Singh, a slave of imperialist economic training, was imposed on India as the Finance Minster. The rest is history. World imperialism never had a faithful puppet like Manmohan Singh. This foreign hand was most useful and loyal to the imperialist masters, and institutions like IMF, World Bank and WTO dictated their policies to Manmohan Singh who sincerely implemented them. After the Narasimha Rao government, India has seen various formations like the United Front and the “India Shining” NDA rule marked by the ghastly Gujarat pogrom. Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister in 2004 entrenching neo-liberalism in India. Explaining this phase and the hegemony of the neo-liberal project, my friend Shanker writes about the hegemony of the Indian neo-liberal project, “In itself the media’s behavior may seem nothing surprising. The alienation of the English media from India’s polity, and the solipsism and blindness of the elite it speaks for are hardly anything new; indeed, if anything, 2004 was only a further exposure of what was already increasingly obvious”.

But, in a way, this was precisely the reason why it was significant, for it hence had direct implication for the role that the English media has played in the rise of Indian neo-liberalism. To discuss this role, it is first important to note that, in the absence of a political/institutional formation that has generated and detained Indian neo-liberalism as an ideology (in contrast to Thatcherism, Reaganism or other such forces), the effort to push neo-liberalism as a political project in India has taken place in a far more diffused and complex manner. The functions that such formation would play, rather than being concentrated and organized, have instead been dispersed to multiple centres of power in the Indian system.

For instance, one such function – the individual policy changes and reforms that are required has worked not through “public opinion” or the legislative system, but instead through backdoor operations primarily focused in the bureaucracy (and in cases that do require legislation, through “consensus” achieved by cross party action through neo-liberal elements without an organized formation). This was described by Rob Jenkins as a process of “reforms by stealth”.

The second such role, increasingly appropriate in a time of shifts towards accumulation by dispossession, has been played by the judiciary. This has been the elimination and dilution of, on the one hand, legal protection for labour and criminal procedure, and on the other the strengthening and widening of state, coercive powers over resources (forests and urban land being the two most striking examples).

However, the third, and in our context the most important function, has been the evolution and projection of a hegemonic ideological project for neo-liberalism in the Indian context. (See Shankar Gopalakrishnan: The UPA Moment: Shadows of a Growing Crisis for the Indian State? In: Neoliberalism, Primitive Accumulation and Politics in India.)

This loyal foreign hand Manmohan Singh’s biggest regret in his tenure in UPA-1 and UPA-2 has been the opposition of the mass movements of the urban and rural working classes, the peasantry and Adivasis to his big ticket reforms like:

(1)      Dismantling of labour laws facilitating longer working hours, contractualisation of the workforce including the right to hire and fire.

(2)      Withdrawal of food subsidies and withdrawal of PDS

(3)      Privatisation of all major public sector enterprises

(4)      Withdrawal of fertilizers and other subsidies to agriculture

(5)      Pushing FDI in retail sector

(6)      Pushing financial deregulators, banking and insurance sector reforms

(7)      Unprecedented forcible land grab and expropriation of the peasantry

(8)      Pushing the dangerous option of nuclear energy upon an unwilling population

(9)      Severe repression of the mass movements

…. the list is endless.

Like the British imperial invaders, under this foreign hand Manmohan Singh, the peasants and Adivasis are facing the brunt of most violent dispossession in this neo-liberal regime of accumulation through dispossession. Millions of hectares of land are forcibly snatched, turning them into paupers and converting them into an impoverished army of reserve to serve as cheap contract labour for the private sector.

Singur, Nandigram, Kalinganagar, Kashipur, Bhatta Parsaul, etc., speak about the horrors of the 21st century primitive accumulation in India pushed by Manmohan Singh. This loyal foreign hand not only has forced hundreds of thousands of farmers to commit suicide, but is also responsible for the extreme brutalization of the Indian is policies have produced poverty, destitution and marginalization. It is this foreign hand – the loyal slave of  World Bank, that has created Arjun Sengupta’s 77% subsisting on Rs. 20/- a day. His push to primitive accumulation has turned fertile lands into the deserts of destitution. All this is done to please his masters at the Capitol Hill and Wall Street. For this, I want to underline the role of International Finance Capital and its third world agent Manmohan Singh – the loyal foreign hand in India.

International Finance Capital, through its myriad institutions and the exercise of diplomatic pressure, has put in place most developing countries, local servitors in key decision-making positions to implement that particular set of policies which serve the interests of global finance and, to a lesser extent, of global industry. The core elements of these policies include, as is well-known by now, trade and investment openness, income deflating fiscal and monetary measures which reduce public development spending and social sector spending, privatization of public sector undertakings, an attack on labour unions, and an attack on the livelihood and assets of small producers mainly comprising peasants and artisans, in order to promote corporatization. In most developing countries, the peasantry and artisans numerically outnumber by far the class of wage paid workers.

The attack on the peasantry’s land assets and forest resources by the corporate sector – both domestic and foreign – usually aided by the ruling state power, is seen virtually everywhere in countries as diverse as India and China in Asia, and in Tanzania, Madagascar and Ethiopia in Africa. The bitter reaction which it has provoked, the resistance of the peasantry to corporate and state acquisition of its assets, is the stuff of the most significant unfolding of social and political mass mobilization to be seen today. What we see is a new phase of what Karl Marx had called “primitive accumulation of capital,” comprising the separation of small producers from their means of production. The difference between the earlier phase of primitive accumulation and the present one, however, is all-important. Earlier phases were transitional to industrialization in Europe and in the lands settled by Europeans and the new world. The present phase of primitive accumulation in developing countries is transitional not to capitalist industrialization but to the accumulation of riches at one pole of the social structure, with rising unemployment, pauperization, the proliferation of small-scale services, and increased absolute poverty at the other pole.

This conclusion of absolute immiserization is not generally accepted in the extant mainstream or even the so-called “heterodox” discussions of globalization. (See Utsa Patnaik: “Capitalism and the Production of Poverty”, Social Scientist Vol. 464-465.)

Manmohan Singh and his camp followers like Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chidambaram (with their unflinching loyalty to World Bank/IMF guidelines to cut subsidies on essential items like food grains and kerosene, despite rising food prices) have made the working people’s life hell. On the other hand, the working people have been subsidising the corporate sector. According to P. Sainath, since economic reforms led by this World Bank stooge Manmohan Singh, the Indian government has subsidised the corporate sector to the tune of Rs. 20 lakh crores, while his lackeys in the media and Planning Commission make a big hue and cry over MNREGA, proposed Food Security Act, etc.

POSCO is a test case, where this shameless comprador Manmohan Singh bends backwards to please his imperialist masters. Under pressure from the Korean President, the PMO directed the Ministry of Environment to give forest and environment clearance to the POSCO project. It is to be noted that both the Meena Gupta Committee and Saxena Committee had written in their reports about the serious violations of the Forest Rights Act and had recommended cancellation of the forest clearance. However, under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Environment was forced to give forest and environmental clearance to POSCO. These examples are numerous.

Biodiversity, GM Foods and the Foreign Hand :

India has very rich flora and fauna with several agro-climatic zones – from the Himalayas to thick rain forests of the Western Ghats and various types of traditional agricultural practices, to food grains. Manmohan Singh is the biggest robber of India’s biodiversity and our seeds. He is the cruel imperial foreign hand to wipe out our seeds, traditions and agricultural practices.

Manmohan Singh is the foreign hand that facilitates “the great gene robbery” by multinational seed companies, especially Monsanto. Manmohan Singh is the foreign hand which has pushed Bt cotton down the farmers’ throat. He is that foreign hand which like a vulture feeds on the corpses of tens of thousands of Bt cotton farmers who were forced to commit suicide. It is a cruel paradox of history when this imperialist lapdog talks about the foreign hand behind the anti-GM seed campaign. The reality is Manmohan Singh is trying to work very hard to be the best area sales manager for Monsanto.

Protesting against Manmohan Singh’s interview to Science magazine about the foreign hand behind Kudankulam anti-nuclear struggle and anti-GM food campaign, eminent people like Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Prof. Romila Thapar and 17 others say in their letter to Manmohan Singh, “There has been vide coverage of your interview with the journal ‘Science’ on 24 February 2012, concerning the opposition to nuclear power plants and GM crops in India. You choose to resurrect the old bogeyman of a ‘foreign hand’, this time pointing to external funding of NGOs to oppose Indian development, as if they are some sort of a fifth columnist operating to undermine that nation’s interest. This, we feel, is a highly inappropriate misrepresentation of facts. The misdemeanours of these NGOs, if any, may well be only minor infringements of the letter of restrictive law that enables government to harass them as is now being undertaken. In reality, what we are all fighting against is indeed a foreign hand operating at the behest of and from within your Government, supported by Indian and foreign commercial entities, to corporatize Indian agriculture and farming practices and the energy sector, without in-depth and impartial analyses which prioritise the country’s security and safety. If this is their sin, it is our too!

Your remarks, in essence, indict every signatory to this letter. Our individual and collective “unthinking state”, an unlikely charge as that is, does not unduly perturb us; on the other hand, your charge that all those who voice dissent of your government’s policy on GM crops and nuclear power do not belong to the “thinking segment” of society, is an indictment of a large section of our citizenry. It betrays an inappropriate distinction between “thinkers” and “non-thinkers” solely on the basis of agreement or disagreement with government policy. Surely, this cannot be. Informed dissent and a healthy response to it by our government through trusted dialogue are vital for a functioning democracy. The absurdity of this position is therefore self-evident and it absolutely requires us to make a measured and robust response through addressing the key issues surrounding GM crops and the nuclear power sector.

The prominently visible foreign hand of the US, in these greatly important issues with ramifications of our country far into the future (and with regard to GM crops, irreversibly so), is squarely created and abetted by the UPA government. One indication of such collusion is the line-up of support your government has sought or received thus far from ABLE (Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises). The Indo-US knowledge initiative on agriculture, the Indo-US CEOs Forum, the Indo-US Business Council, etc., all of which expose the distinct foreign influence, are deliberately brought into these critical policy areas. Along with your investigations of the so-called ‘anti-national misdeeds of the NGO’, why is your government not probing the influence peddled by these agencies and entities who are primarily furthering the interests of foreign governments and private multinational corporations? Or, is it that only those who support your policies are helping the nation, while those raising legitimate and scientifically based dissent are all branded as traitors working against the national interest?

(See the letter written by Krishna Iyer, Romila Thapar, Praful Bidwai, Admiral Ramdas and others to Manmohan Singh, dated 5 March 2012).

In fact, this insidious foreign hand Manmohan Singh (who is trying to devastate Indian agriculture and forcing farmers to commit suicide), is behaving like a ruthless field marshal of a foreign invading army. The great Second Green Revolution has been declared with much fanfare after turning the fields of Punjab and Haryana barren and poisonous. Now this salesman of international agri-business is casting his greedy eyes on the eastern states of India.

The aim of Indo-US knowledge initiative on agriculture is a conspiracy to recolonise India. The plan is being implemented through the present day Mir Jafar Manmohan Singh.

By submitting the Biotechnology Authority Bill in Parliament, this foreign hand is trying to impose legislative sanction for destroying Indian agriculture and handing it over to US-based seed giants. GM crops will not only damage health and environment, but our seeds will be lost forever and the entire peasantry will be mortgaged to the international agri-business led by Monsanto.

In the context of GM crops, Manmohan Singh’s loyalty to his imperial masters is self-evident. GM crops were invented by the US; given their raison’d’etre of profit for the industry patent laws in that country and their commercialisation promoted at the behest of the White House to “foster the biotech industry” led by Monsanto, the international market leader holding 90% of crop patents. No GM crop is approved “as safe” by the US regulatory authorities in the US when they are put to market GM cotton and other crops. The industry has held sway; there is little regulatory oversight.

Indo US Nuclear deal, Kudankulam Struggle and the Foreign Hand

Yankee imperialism can never find such an obedient puppet like Manmohan Singh in the entire world who even staked his own Government to implement Indo US nuclear deal. The entire episode was akin to feudal loyalty of the peasant serf to the lord of manor. It is a well known fact that nuclear energy is an extremely obsolete screw driver technology which is not even preferred in Manmohan Singhs ideological Mecca the United States.

Manmohan Singh’s imperial masters who have themselves abandoned this in their own country found a loyal slave in Manmohan Singh to bail out their private nuclear corporations like Westinghouse to make super profits in a poor third world country like India, when in their own country the technology is destined for oblivion. After Fukushima disaster when the ruling classes of advanced capitalist countries are giving up nuclear power this intellectual slave of the neo-liberal west is so blind informationwise. So blocked in his thinking that while his master have outgrown the nuclear option this loyal slave still thrusting nuclear energy into our throat. Nuclear Energy in India becoming an instrument for super profits of American nuclear corporations. They have  imposed their obsolete and dangerous technology in India.

The Indo US nuclear deal was not only an instrument for bailing out the American nuclear corporations but it was an brazan attack on our sovereignty. It allows unrestricted entry into our nuclear installations by the Americans, it was an outrageous act by the US imperialists to consolidate their hold in South Asia for their defense and geo strategic interests. This foreign hand Manmohan Singh did everything in his capacity including striking a deal with Samajwadi Party to thrust the imperialist Indo US nuclear deal on Indian people. The loyal Foreign hand in India was at full play during the debate on Indo US nuclear deal. A conservative estimate puts it that the US nuclear corporation will make around 6 lakh crores of the business facilitated by the  Indo US nuclear deal, Uncle Sam will never find such loyal agent like Manmohan Singh any where else.

It is a common sense world over that nuclear energy is undesirable ad dangerous. The per megawatt cost of nuclear energy is much higher than any other forms of power generation. Yet this extremely dangerous and price wise exorbitant this killer energy is being forcibly  thrust on Indian people by this loyal Foreign hand Manmohan Singh Nuclear Energy hardly provides 1% of our power generation, and the official claim of being a clean and green source of energy is pure bullshit. The nuclear establishment clearly fails to account the embedded energy requirement to build a nuclear power plant. There is genuine and increasing public concern over the dangers of nuclear technology, particularly because the Indian nuclear establishment is directed by the government to expand their nuclear power activity on the basis of the import of untested reactors and in the absence of an independent and transparent nuclear safety regulator.

No nuclear power plant is 100% safe and for the government to make such a statement, as have been made only recently, stretch credulity and cone across as glib assurances in the back drop of the Fukushima accident, which has been particularly devastating and is fresh in people’s minds. The accidents at Three Mile Island (1979) Chernobyl (1986) also involved human error and weak nuclear safety regulation. Japan is a technologically savvy country. Despite this, they have not been able to respond till date to the sheer Scale of the Fukushima disaster to contain its impacts. In India, with our dense population, our lack of management skills, the unilateral decision-making at the highest political levels on the purchase of very complex and hither to untested nuclear reactors and technology systems with out involving the national safety evaluation process, refusal to constitute a totally independent and transparent nuclear safety regulatory system in the country, and our singularly inefficient disaster mitigation abilities, etc. could altogether land us in a major nuclear disaster soon, if these deficiencies are not immediately corrected, cost estimates of the Fukushima accident are currently placed at more than immediately corrected. Cost estimates of the Fukushima accident are currently placed at more than US $16 billion and it is still rising.

It will take decade to cleanup Fukushima and the significant strech of surrounding areas of radioactive contamination, and the clean up may never be complete, as evident from the Chernobyl experience where the Russians are setting up a sarcophagus to shield the stricken reactors from humanity and the environment.

Despite an assurance given by the Prime Ministers office on April 26, 2011 that “Action taken on previous safety reviews will be put in the public domain”, neither the DAE Nor NPCIL seems to make a mockery of the spirit of Article 19 of the constitution that entitles every citizen, as a fundamental right, to be informed about the functioning of any public authority, to the extent that its acts of omission and commission affects individual life. AERB, which is required to oversee and regulate the activities of DAE and NPCIC, continues to be subordinate to DAE and the new regulatory authority bill introduced by DAE before parliament, further more, does not ensure the independence of the regulator from the executive that controls it.

At many of our nuclear sites including Kudankulam, no truthful and comprehensive EIAs have been made and associated public hearing conducted as stipulated by law. Where representations of the local population have prepared scientific reports to the best of their ability, on their own, on pertinent safety deficiencies of a nuclear plant, and DAE has ignored those reports and not responded to the concerns expressed. A typical example is the recent PMANE expert groups report dated 12th Febuary 2012, which the Kudankulam protest groups prepared and submitted to the DAE. This report highlights serious questions about the safety of the Kudankulam site based on geotechnical and oceanographic considerations, backed by independent and scientific data ands publications from academic and research institutions. Through all this, the AERB which must come forth and defend the safety of these plants, has maintained a stoney silence, whereas, in any civilized country, it is the regulator’s duty to defend what they have approved as safe. In India, it is because the AERB is a captive regulator who seeks permission of the DAE before they speak publicly on any issue.

Let us be clear that nuclear power, like most other power technologies, is not 100% safe and can never be. But, given that the downside risk of a nuclear accident can be immeasurable and the empirical evidence from the past three core meltdowns  the world has witnessed reinforces such a possibility, how safe it can be will depend on the integrity of our regulators and our leaders who on the other hand are constantly manipulating the system, including the safety regulator. Our government has not yet realized that there is a strong positive correlation between the transparency of a safety regulator and the degree of eventual safety obtained. While the public is kept entirely in the dark on how safety is assured, the Prime Minister personally continues to endorse the relentless claims of DAE and NPCIL that nuclear power technology is 100% safe. On that basic there is little reason for comfort.

The enactment of the current civil liability law by the government betrays the PM’s stance on safety claims. The government has gone out of its way to bow to pressures and demands exerted by the US and Western MNCs to ensure that civil nuclear liability law shields reactor suppliers from accident liability in excess of the ridiculously low cap of Rs 1500 crore (equivalent to US $ 300 million). Evidently, foreign reactor suppliers themselves are not as confident as the PM seems to be of the safety of their own reactors and want the Indian tax payer to bear what could be an astronomical part of the liability in case of a nuclear accident. The latest estimate of the Fukushima liability has touched US $ 16 billion, compared to the cap of US $ 300 million imposed by the civil nuclear liability law that the Indian government has enacted. Further more, yielding further to MNCS’ pressure, the government has framed the rules under the liability law, exceeding the limits set by the law itself, imposing limitations on the definition of “consequential” casts and the timespan within which the Indian operator can prefer accident claims against reactor suppliers. The easy terms that the Indian government has agreed to in this matter are truly a national betrayal; a constitutional aberration in letter and spirit.

As far as Kudankulam unit 1 and 2 are concerned, the sketchy EIA report completed several years ago does not contain a comprehensive risk analysis, estimation of the probabilities of core-melt down or major radioactive releases, the factoring in of potential human errors, or a proper site evaluation from the geotechnical and oceanography points of view. We believe not even a cursory examination of such issues was done when the site was finalized, or thereafter. Even if NPCIL claims that such an analysis has been carried out, they have not placed it in public domain. When DAE and NPCIL choose to function in a shroud of secrecy with the implicit approval of the Prime Minister, it hardly seems fair of prudent on the part of the government to demand that the people who are going to be directly affected should refrain from raising their concerns. Why should this be? If the government has decided to investigate NGOs who have allegedly received foreign funding, it is appropriate and even more necessary to investigate thoroughly, the circumstances under which unusual accommodation with western MNC’s has been made by the same government. (See the appendix to the letter written to the Prime Minister by eminent citizens)

The US pressure on the civil nuclear liability bill shows the impact of foreign hand in the nuclear matters in India. The struggle against the nuclear power plat at Kudankulam is the struggle against this foreign hand.

Conclusion: Manmohan Singh, operation Green hunt and state repression in India:

This foreign hand Manmohan Singh whose grips are tightening over throats of helpless peasants, Adivasis women, religious and national minorities has proved to be the most cruel henchman of Yankee imperialism in the third world, Manmohan Singh outclasses puppets like Batista, Marcos, Pinochet and other monsters in his competition to appease his imperial masters. How he crawls in front of his masters from the white house is proved by the fact he broke the tradition and protocol and went to receive Obama personally at the Delhi Airport. How he behaves as a starry eyed teenager was noticed when to meet President Bush he fell into love with him. This Uncle Sams favorite butler whose entire training has been in institutions like world bank designed for imperialist hegemony, has been ruthlessly commodifying every necessary life needs of Indian people, food, shelter, water, rivers, land, forest and so on. Life for the poor has become most difficult in the era of forward trading and speculative finance capital.


As soon as Manmohan Singh was sworn in as Prime Minister, he declared Maoists to be the greatest internal threat to India. Thus he declared a war on the poorest and poor people who are struggling for survival and dignity against snatching away their water, forest land, life livelihood and dignity. At the behest of his imperial masters Manmohan Singh has launched a war on his own people to snatch away their land, forest, mines and water for rapacious plunder by international and national corporates. He installed another running dog of imperialism Chidambaram as Home Minister who in equal desperation to please his imperial masters launched “Operation Green Hunt”. Tens of thousand of paramilitary forces with the tacit help of the army were deployed to severely crush the poorest of the poor’s uprising against total destitution and state repression. Hounds of the Indian ruling classes BSF, CRPF, COBRA, GREYHOUND were unleashed on the struggling Adivasis’ from Jangalmahal to Chattisgarh to Narayana Patna. Thousand were murdered, raped and tortured. Custodial torture, death and rape has became order of the day in the name of “Operation Green Hunt”. The recent brutal custodial torture of Soni Sori will put to shame even the most cruel dictators. There is a witch-hunt on oppressed nationalities and minorities. Kashmir, North-east and the Batla house encounter are stark indicators of what is being done to the oppressed nationalities and minorities in this country. The recent arrest of the Delhi based journalist Mr Kazmi under pressure from the imperialist Zionist lobby is a test case, how Manmohan Singh operates on behalf of CIA and Mossad. This Foreign hand Manmohan Singh’s hand is dripping in Blood from Kashmir to North-east, and regions from Bastar to Jangalmahal. We have seen blood dripping from this hand at Jaitapur, Kalinganagar, Nandigram, Narayan Patna, Kashipur, Sompetta, Bhatta parsaul and Tappal, the list is endless.


The people in Fatehabad, Jaitapur, Mithivirdi, Chutka are fighting to shove off this foreign hand off their back, to save themselves from the disasters of nuclear power plant. The struggle in Kudankulam is a struggle against this Foreign hand Manmohan Singh who is forcibly pushing the nuclear power plant into their throat. To save the people and environment of this and to free ourselves from the clutches of US imperialism this hand needs to be chopped off.

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