Press Release: WTO Nairobi Package

Preess Release 21 December 2015, NEW DELHI

WTO NAIROBI PACKAGE:

India packed off empty handed and humiliated

Civil society groups in India have come out strongly against the outcome of the WTO Nairobi Ministerial citing concerns on both the negotiating process and substantive issues in the various texts adopted. The Ministerial was extended by an extra day due to disagreements from various developing countries, including India, and was finally concluded in the late hours of 19 December with the adoption of the Nairobi package which includes a Ministerial Declaration and six related decisions on agriculture, cotton and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

‘This is a dismal failure by the Indian delegation. From a reading of the declaration it is clear that the ‘development mandate’ of the Doha Round has been thrown out since there is no unanimity on the existing Doha structures and architecture. Further, the declaration recognises that some members wish to identify and discuss other issues for negotiations. This opens the door for contentious new issues such as Investment, Government Procurement and Global Value Chains to be brought into the WTO’ said Former Finance Secretary and previous GATT ambassador S P Shukla.

Shukla further argued that according to the WTO agreement, if there was no consensus; decisions need to be arrived at through specific majorities. Given the lack of agreement between the developed and developing countries at Nairobi, India should have exercised this legal right when the talks got extended by a day. The Commerce Minister should explain to the Parliament the reasons why India chose to capitulate on 19 December’, said Shukla.

WTO expert and Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Biswajit Dhar argues that not only has India got nothing out of Nairobi but has conceded ground on specific areas. ‘The decisions on completely eliminating export subsidies by 2023 will further aggravate the crisis in our sugar sector. The opening in the text for new issues is also an indication that now the USA and EU will aggressively push for elements from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) into the WTO agenda. India will once again be on the backfoot, said Dhar.

The Convener of the National Working Group on Patent Laws and WTO, Dr. Dinesh Abrol said that the Parliament should urgently debate the commissions and omissions of the Modi Government at Nairobi. ‘We demand that the Government be immediately asked to prepare a White Paper on the WTO negotiations and on various free trade agreements (FTAs) and autonomous liberalisation to stop further damage to the erosion of development policy space which is so crucial to the realisation of development concerns which include the basic rights to food, employment, education, public health and safe environment.

Senior Researcher at the Third World Network, Ranja Sengupta said that ‘On the two key demands placed by India; permanent solution for public food stockholding and the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM), we got nothing more than what was present before Nairobi. The introduction of new issues such as Investment and Government Procurement will have adverse implications for our agriculture sector as well’.

If Bali 2013 was a mistake, Nairobi 2015 was a disaster. In 2014, India agreed to the Trade Facilitation (TF) agreement unilaterally without getting anything in return. The 20th anniversary of the WTO will be remembered as the graveyard for development concerns and multilateralism, said Afsar Jafri from Focus on the Global South.

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10 Years of Forest Rights Act

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan

Press Release

New Delhi, December 15, 2015

10 years of the Forest Rights Act: Say no to change in progressive and pro-people’s law

Over 500 people associated with different social movements, democratic struggles and Trade Unions from different states of the country gathered at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi today, on the historic day of enactment of Schedule Tribe and other Forest Dwellers, Recognition of Forest Rights Act in 2006.  We collectively pledge to continue our struggle against the NDA government’s proposed illegal move to dilute the Forest Rights Act bypassing the Parliament of India. A delegation from the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan met with the Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram at 12 pm who assured them that he will raise these issues in the Parliament.

The Forest Rights Act 2006 is a landmark in the history of indigenous people in this country whose rights have time and again been neglected by the state. The FRA was enacted to correct this historic injustice meted to our people and restore their rights over their forests, land and water. The Act ensures individual tenure rights over cultivable land and more importantly collective ownership rights over all NTFP and forest based resources to the Gram Sabhas and those duly elected by the community members. However, the government neglected in effectively implementing such a progressive Act meant to bring about a structural change in forest governance.

At this same time, the Tenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization is to be held in Nairobi, Kenya (15-18 December). WTO has repeatedly pushed forward the agenda of the developed nations and has sidelined the real concerns of developing nations like India.

Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan) declared that we all have come together with the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan to denounce the proposal of change of law in FRA. She blamed the government for not implementing them even after the gram sabha passed a resolution for it. The NRI PM of ours has already been declared as anti-farmer and in some time he will be called anti-tribal too. She stated that though the negotiations would have started in Nairobi, we hope the government does not proceed to sell off our lands there. She extended her support to the OccupyUGC movement and also condemned the CBI raid in Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s office. She also warned that the country is moving towards a state of emergency.

Roma, General Secretary, All India Union of Forest Working People said the reason of having the Chetavani rally is to remind the government that the people will oppose the governmental move to sell of our lands to the corporates. The government thinks that we will be content with the delcaration of FRA, but we will not end our struggle until it is properly implemented. She stated that the forest people does not accept the 31st December deadline that the government has given and reminded that the BJP remember the Delhi and Bihar election results and the power of the electorate. The withdrawal of the Land Acquisition ordinance is our victory and we will continue our fight for our land and our rights.

Dr. Sunilam, Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti blamed the lack of political will in government for the non-implementation of FRA till date. He brought to notice the Chindwara (MP) region, where the tribal lands went under Adani’s control and the government is siding with the corporates and not the people. The governemnt assumes that they can stop us from democratic struggles by imposing 144. But such restrictions cannot stop us as our fight is for fundamental and legal rights.

Ashok Chowdhary, All India Union of Forest Working People appealed to the media and stated that they need to support and highlight such struggles of people. He declared that water, food and land are some of our main issues, and everything has to be addressed together. He also warned that siding with corporates will only ruin our country.

Krishna Prasad (All India Kisaan Sabha), Jarjum Ete (AIUFWP), P.C Tiwari (Uttarakhand), Dinesh Abrol, Gautam Mody (NTUI), Ghuman Singh, Amulya Naik, Panibhai, Trilojan Punji, Avdesh Kumar, Mata Dayal, Kailash Awasya (NBA), Sucheta De (AISA), Anubhuti (Occupy UGC), Virendra Vidrohi (Rajasthan), Shobha (AIUFWP), Balkeeshwar (AIUFWP), Madhuresh (NAPM), Vijay (NBA), Tarun Joshi (Uttarakhand) and represenatives from All India Krishak Khet Masdoor Sanghatan salso addressed the gathering.

The Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan made the following demands from the elected representative who is entrusted with the protection and safeguard the interests of common working citizens of India:

  •   Implement Forest Rights Act in letter and spirit, ensure collective rights of the communities and stay away from making any changes to the Act
  •   Strengthen Environmental Laws and withdraw Environment Law (Amendment) Bill 2015
  •   Reject the imperialist agenda of WTO and reclaim national policy in the interest of the marginalised sections and not bow       down to the corporate pressure.

    For further details: 9873632226, 9958797409

Dr B D Sharma : A Life Lived in Struggle

Dr B D Sharma : A Life Lived in Struggle for the Rights of Marginals

New Delhi, December 7 : Dr Brahma Dutt Sharma (known to many of us as Dr Sahab), has passed away on December 6th in Gwalior. He was not keeping well for sometime and was being looked after by his son and daughter-in-law. Narmada Bachao Andolan and NAPM pay its heartfelt condolences to the family and to the Andolan Biradari, of which he was an integral part.

He led many battles in his life and worked tirelessly to achieve the constitutional rights of the adivasis, dalits, workers and farmers, over five decades of his working life beginning with the troublesome days in Bastar (1968) and being the last Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (1986-1991). He also served as the Vice Chancellor of NEHU, Central University and in numerous committess of Planning Commission and National Advisory Council.

He was a bureaucrat, a contemporary of late S R Sankaran, B N Yugandhar and others who stood for the people, just a way government servant should. As SC/ST Commissioner, he not only authored seminal reports on empowerment of SC/STs but also played a key role in authorship of the Bhuria Committee report, enactment of PESA and Forest Rights Act. As Secretary in the Minister of Tribal Affairs, he initiated the idea of Tribal Sub Plan. Untill as late as 2014, he continued to collaborate and help Government in its various initiatives with the tribals and adivasis, but also challenged them on every front, for their continued betrayal and non-implementation of various plans and governance failure in the scheduled areas.

He was extremely disturbed by the violence and war like situation in the tribal areas, and in a letter, dt May 17, 2010 to the President of India, he wrote :

I am constrained to state at this critical phase of the history of tribal people that the Union Government is guilty of abdicating its Constitutional responsibility by allowing the situation to degenerate from that of stray revolts in 1960s to ‘warlike situation’ at the moment. It has remained unconcerned with the simmering discontent from day one with the adoption of the Constitution. It has not issued a single direction to any State in 60 long years. You as head of the nation, at a critical time must ensure that the Union Government accepts unequivocally its Constitutional responsibility with due apologies for the decimated, shattered and disinherited tribal communities whose irretrievable loss- physical, economical and emotional – is an un-washable blot on the fair face of our nation that still stands by equity and justice.

He stood for the rights of the people, for implementation of the self rule in the Gram Sabhas as mandated by the Constitution and championed the cause of the Hamare Gaon me Hamara Raaj. Even while serving as the SC/ST Commmsioner, he filed the first case in the Supreme Court, demanding the implementation of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) award. SC ordered the implementation of the NWDT award by the governments, which paved the way for allotment of land for land to thousands of the project affected families. Unfortunately violating the SC order and order of numerous Tribunals and Commissions and in face of continued struggle of Narmada Bachao Andolan, the NDA government is pushing ahead the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, leading to submergence of nearly 2 lakh plus people in the Narmada Valley.

Dr Sharma was a visionary and was troubled by the growing inequity in the society in the wake of the neo liberal reforms pushed by the government. He worked tirelessly to implement the laws, policies, programmes and schemes of the government using all the means available with him, but he knew the real swaraj will come only if people themselves organized and fought for it and took control of their own life, means of livelihood, control over natural resources, had a say in the development plan and became a beneficiary in the process of development. He founded Bharat Jan Andolan and lent his voice and support to Narmada Bachao Andolan, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Kisani Pratishtha Manch, Campaign for Survival and Dignity and many more people’s struggles and movements.

He travelled through out the country and propagated his views and solutions to the farmers and workers distress, advocated for their rights and kept stressing the fact that we are headed towards a agrarian crisis and something which stemmed from the fact that farmers and workers were not getting their due. They were not being compensated for their efforts and hard work. He would often ask at the gatehrings, bata mere yaar, meri mehnat kaa mol hai kya ?

He wrote extensively and also published for which he set up his publishing unit, Sahyog Kutir Prakashan. He lived frugally and minimally, travelled across the country as a simpleton, wearing his dhoti kurta and remained accessible to every one. Even when he was not keeping well, he joined us all at the completion of 20 years of NAPM at its biennial convention in Pune, last year.

He will be missed for his courage of conviction and dedication to the cause of the marginalized. In his death we all have lost a great teacher and a comrade, who was always there for us in times of crisis and in struggle.

Saathi tere sapno ko manzil tak pahunchayenge ! Zindabaad !

Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti & Meera – Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, MP; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah & Ramakrishnan Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union & Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, & J S Walia, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Sujato Bhadra, NAPM West Bengal; B S Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar and Shabnam Shaikh – NAPM, Delhi, Brother Varghese, Hyderabad and Subhash Lomate, Jai Kisan Andolan

Press Release: 31 Years after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy –

Press Release

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy – 31 years of injustice – ​​Don’t forget the martyrs of the Bhopal gas Tragedy
December 03rd, 2015 | New Delhi:

Over 60 people gathered in Jantar Mantar today to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. After 31 years of the largest industrial disaster in the world. The victims and survivors of Bhopal remain without justice. Generations have felt the impacts of the gas, as its impacts are being passed down genetically. The compensation provided has been paltry and rehabilitation minimal. The result of studies on health impacts remain secret, health treatment has been denied and even cleaning up of the toxic waste at the plant has not taken place. On the other hand, Union Carbide and now Dow Chemicals, continue to enjoy impunity and continue their operations. The successive governments have not created any substantial policy changes to address, prevent or prepare for such future disasters, Rather they keep promoting greater investment in dangerous and toxic chemicals and nuclear energy.

Speaking at the protest, Usha Ramanathan pointed out that there is still no law established, which fixes corporate accountability in case of such accidents. Moreover the current Govt. is calling investors from across the world and giving away our land, water and forests, the only thing left now to give away are people’s lives! Usha Ramanathan, Kavita Krishnan, N.D Jaiprakash Dr. Sunilam and Kumar Sunderam stressed on how rather than ensuring industrial liability and people’s safety, the State has created and maintains a special security force for industrial protection! Geeta Ramkrishnan from Tamil Nadu pointed out how workers face the brunt of industrial accidents across the country, with absolutely no consequences for the companies. Kumar Sundaram also spoke to on behalf of everyone present to say that country cannot afford more such disasters, which is imminent with the current push for nuclear energy.
The survivors of Bhopal demand an urgent and unified action from the citizens of the country and ask the State and Central Governments to answer to them.
For more information contact Shabnam@ 9643349452 and Kumar Sundaram @9810556134

Updates on Coal, Energy, IFIs: 2 Dec, 2015

A.Coal & Energy​

  1. Putting China’s coal consumption into context: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2015/11/30-china-coal-consumption-context
  2. Federal EPA delays NC coal ash cleanup efforts: http://wncn.com/2015/11/30/federal-epa-delays-nc-coal-ash-cleanup-efforts/
  3. Solar or Coal? The Energy India Picks May Decide Earth’s Fate: http://www.wired.com/2015/11/climate-change-in-india/
  4. Climate summit: Coal will continue to be the mainstay of India’s energy basket, says government official :http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/49987619.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
  5. After ban on coal-mining, people from Meghalaya are taking to turmeric farming: http://www.firstpost.com/india/after-ban-on-coal-mining-people-from-meghalaya-are-taking-to-turmeric-farming-2526420.html
  6. India will not apologise about coal use: Piyush Goyal :​​http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/49974983.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
  7. German climate goals for 2030 and 2040 require coal exit: http://www.agora-energiewende.de/en/press/agoranews/news-detail/news/german-climate-protection-goals-for-2030-and-2040-require-coal-exit/News/detail/
  8. India calls out rich nations’ figures on climate funds. Here’s how: http://www.catchnews.com/environment-news/india-calls-out-rich-nations-figures-on-climate-funds-here-s-how-1448885323.html
  9. Greens see red over national park tunnel: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/greens-see-red-over-sanjay-gandhi-national-park-tunnel/article7934114.ece
  10. Climate change not of India’s making, rich nations to blame: Modi: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/climate-change-not-of-india-s-making-rich-nations-to-blame-modi/story-eIBz5hUGR1CFNNiczGVCWP.html
  11. India Sanctions USD 2.5mln For Poor Nations As Paris Climate Summit Begins: http://inserbia.info/today/2015/11/india-sanctions-usd-2-5mln-for-poor-nations-as-paris-climate-summit-begins/
  12. $1 billion climate finance from aid budget: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/turnbull-pledges-800-million-for-climate/news-story/492fb8e454a2a1f9042207f1025cf807
  13. Climate action plans of poorest nations to cost $1 trillion: http://zeenews.india.com/news/eco-news/climate-action-plans-of-poorest-nations-to-cost-1-trillion_1828475.html
  14. World leaders call for action at Paris climate talks – as it happened: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/live/2015/nov/30/paris-climate-summit-world-leaders-meet-for-opening-day-live
  15. The economic impact of climate change in Southeast Asia: http://globalriskinsights.com/2015/11/the-economic-impact-of-climate-change-in-southeast-asia/
  16. India taking energy demand lead: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Industry/2015/11/30/India-taking-energy-demand-lead/9401448884395/
  17. MPs raise environmental concerns over third runway at Heathrow: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e50289f0-9792-11e5-9228-87e603d47bdc.html#axzz3t8a39ki8
  18. COP21: Paris conference could be climate turning point, says Obama: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34960051

B.IFIs

  1. Development Banks Vow to Mobilize Collective Resources to Confront Climate Change: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/11/29/development-banks-vow-to-mobilize-collective-resources-to-confront-climate-change
  2. UPDATE 1-China-backed AIIB to lend $10-15 bln a year for first five years: president-designate: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/12/01/china-aiib-idUSL3N13Q1T620151201#292PYusjP7TfGQQg
  3. ADB to help Afghanistan revive agriculture sector: http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2015/11/29/adb-help-afghanistan-revive-agriculture-sector
  4. Tamil Nadu — in the fast-track development corridor: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/tamil-nadu-in-the-fasttrack-development-corridor/article7933771.ece
  5. Kenya remains core to development of Africa -JICA President: http://en.starafrica.com/news/kenya-remains-core-to-development-of-africa-jica-president.html
  6. Govt has granted ‘in-principle’ approval to 20 NIMZs, of which 12 are located outside DMIC region: http://www.knnindia.co.in/sectors/govt-has-granted-‘in-principle’-approval-to-20-nimzs,-of-which-12-are-located-outside-dmic-region/31-12721.go?myuri=/sectors/govt-has-granted-%27in-principle%27-approval-to-20-nimzs,-of-which-12-are-located-outside-dmic-region/31-12721.go
  7. Chinese firm to invest in South Africa’s coal mine: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-12/01/c_134872614.htm
  8. Morgan Stanley & Wells Fargo Cut Coal Financing, Join Growing Movement By Banks In U.S. & Europe: http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/11/morgan-stanley-wells-fargo-cut-coal-financing-join-growing-movement-by-banks-in-u-s-europe/
  9. IMF’s yuan inclusion signals less risk taking in China: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/imfs-yuan-inclusion-signals-less-024424263.html