P K Sundaram

In India, we have a Prime-Minister who is in love with everything foreign- from untested foreign reactors to the GM-foods being boycotted internationally to foreign direct investment (FDI) in every possible corner of economy. But that doesn’t stop him from raising ‘foreign’ bogey when it comes to people’s voices opposing this insane rush to suicide.

Nukes on our platter?

This week, the government has deported a German national named  Sonnteg Reiner Hermann. He has been accused of funding and supporting the movement against Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project.  This has come soon after PM’s tirade against anti-nuclear movements in the country citing ‘foreign hand’, which has received flak widely, even the Economic Times that otherwise supports Koodankulam reactors.

Manmohan Singh would have deported even Mother Teresa. German wisdom of shunning nuclear energy and going for renewables is foreign to our policy-makers, but they have no problem in inviting global nuclear profiteers that are imperiling the very existence of humankind and its delicate relations with the nature.

Mr. Reiner was a low-budget tourist who has been visiting Tamil Nadu for more than four years. Staying in cheap hotels worth Rs. 200 per day, he spent his time studying the dolphins, nature and communities across the coastal region. Dr. R S Mohanlal, an acquaintance with whom Mr. Reiner shared some of his work, says in his statement:

He could not afford to pay costly accommodation. He is a very frugal man living a simple life. After working as a computer technologist he saved the money for being a tourist. He used to spend his retired life in India. Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Loas as life is cheap in these countries. Even he has lost weight because of Indian food which causes dysentery. He has only 2 or 3 pairs of dress. Computer is his only companion. He loves travel. He calls me sometimes to inform me about the dolphins. He is a Nature lover talks to me about nature and tree planting. He has a high degree of social consciousness and refined behavior It is absolutely wrong to think he funded any NGOs and supported the Anti-Koodankulam agitation. He has no money to so. Any if the Govt. has proof that he supported the agitation by paying Rs.500 crores, he should have been detained in India instead of deporting him. Now he has no way to deny the charges.

So, the government has chosen to deport a tourist while our country boasts of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is our family), Atithi Devo Bhava (the guest is the god) and its tourism offices in the entire world invite people to ‘Incredible India’. Both Koodankulam and Kalpakkam have tourist places like Kanyakumari and Mahabalipuram and siting of these reactors probably also violates international norms for preserving heritage sites. But that apart, when the government can import host of foreign reactors, why cannot the people who have had experience of radiation-hazards, nuclear accidents and their own government’s lies around them, can share it with Indian people and help them fight a battle fore their existence, livelihood and dignity?

It’s dangerous that the realities of India have become ‘foreign’ to the Indian elite’s imagination.

Shamelessly defending the government action, our Home Minister has said today: “A tourist who comes to India cannot associate with activities which are semi-political and protest activities. That is not why a tourist visa is given,” he said. Now almost anything under the sky can be dubbed ‘semi-political’. When the Indo-US nuclear deal was happening and the American embassy was openly talking to political parties in the parliament to ‘build consensus’. That the US embassy officials used cash to lure parliamentarians is not a secret. Now  was it semi-political, quasi-political or plain ugly intervention backed by the vulture international corporates?

The world must rise against this stupid and dangerous precedent.  It is an onslaught on our democracy, freedom of expression and freedom to protest. As the PMANE has asked, the govt should have detained Mr. Reiner if it can prove its ridiculous allegation that he funded the movement with Rs. 500 crores.