RESPECT INDIA: Campaign for a Nuclear-Free, Corruption-Free and People-Friendly India (PMANE in Koodankulam)

“Respect India”

‘Respect India’ is a call similar to ‘Quit India’ fervently made by the ordinary citizens of India here at Idinthakarai on May 8, 2012.

‘Quit India’ was a civil disobedience movement launched in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ speech delivered on August 8, 1942 at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Bombay. Gandhiji’s call for determined, but passive resistance appeared in his appeal to “Do or Die.”

India is facing a similar “Do or Die” situation today as our sovereignty, independence, freedom, natural resources, livelihood of the poor, their right to life, and the very future of the country are at imminent peril. The ruling class and their establishment care for the rich and powerful at the cost of the poor and powerless. There is no respect for ordinary Indian citizens’ life or dignity.

Just as the freedom fighters asked the colonial rulers to ‘Quit India,’ we, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy fighters, request the corrupt and communal ruling class in India to ‘Respect India,’ respect the Indian citizens’ lives, rights and entitlements.

The Indian society is in a desperate need for something like Albert Schweitzer’s personal philosophy of “Reverence for Life” (“Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben”). He rightly argued that the Western civilization (which Gandhiji called “a good idea”) was decaying because it had abandoned affirmation of and respect for life as its ethical foundation. When many Westerners are challenging their own establishments and value systems, Indian rulers are mindlessly imitating the same consumerist, hedonistic and globalization values and pushing our country to the brink of death and decay.

To give an example, most countries around the world such as Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan are phasing out and closing down their nuclear power plants. But the Indian rulers are planning to open mega nuclear power parks at the following coastal sites without giving all the information to the local people or getting their consent:

· Koodankulam, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu (Russian);
· Kalpakkam, Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu (Indian);
· Kovvada, Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh (American);
· Haripur, Purba Medinipur District, West Bengal (Russian);
· Jaitapur, Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra (French); and
· Mithi Virdi, Bhavnagar District, Gujarat (American).

More nuclear power plants are planned in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and elsewhere. As a result of our ruling class’s nuclear madness, our land, water, air, sea, sea life, sea food and food security will all become spoiled and poisoned.

In India today, power and arrogance has become the pinnacle of political life; materialism and exploitation has become the foundation of economic life; and discrimination and hatred has become the hallmarks of social life. Success has come to mean to be rich and selfish. If you are small, soft and slow (and not super-sized, strong and swift), you are a loser. And you deserve your fate of poverty and misery, and marginalization and exploitation.

The political class’s heartless plundering of the national resources, the capitalist class’s obsessive exploitation of the natural resources, the upper castes’ ruthless exploitation of the poor and downtrodden and the overall immorality have driven most Indians to desperation. Hence, our farmers are committing suicide all over the country; our adivasis are fleeing their forest land; our youth are joining the ranks of extremist groups; our men are taking to drugs and alcohol; our women are resigned to their fate; and our children are unhealthy and hopeless.

There are two Indias today: the rich and powerful India whose life is deemed to be important and valuable; and the poor and powerless India whose life is condemned as unimportant and dispensable. The dirty ordinary Indians are forced to sacrifice their lives for the holy extraordinary Indians.

If we believe in Satya, Swaraj and Sarvodaya, we must challenge and change our national situation. Indian life must be made valuable and indispensable, no matter who they are and where they stand on the national socioeconomic-political pyramid. To ‘Respect India’ is to respect every Indian life. To respect Indian life means putting Indian life above and beyond everything else, such as elections, energy security, GDP, MNCs, FDI, Forbes list and so forth.

The Program of Action to ‘Respect India’ must include:

· Provide basic necessities to all Indians here and now;
· Provide safe drinking water to all Indians everywhere;
· Provide proper nutrition to all mothers and children all over India;
· Bring dignity to all Indians with toilets, public amenities, health care and insurance;
· Implement land reform all over India and protect the farmers and farming;
· Safeguard the interests of adivasis, fisher folks, Dalits and other minorities;
· Avoid ‘development’ projects that destroy people’s resources and livelihood.
· Implement pro-people, pro-Nature and pro-Future decentralized sustainable projects.

When the central and state governments respect Indian life and do the above things, our own people will begin to respect Indian life, and the rest of the world will do the same also. So, ‘Respect India.’

The Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)


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