Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invoked the foreign hand that Indira Gandhi used to refer to explain the people’s resistance to hazardous technologies like nuclear power and genetic engineering. His comments have been published in the journal Science.
The PM’s comments are misplaced on a number of counts. First, if there is a foreign hand shaping India’s policy, it is working through the PM. Manmohan Singh signed the US-India agriculture agreement with president Bush, which attempts to hand over India’s seed supply to Monsanto, Grain trade to Grain giants like Cargill and Retail trade to giants like Walmart. He also signed the US-India nuclear deal handing over our energy sovereignty to global powers. The government nearly collapsed, and the vote in parliament went only through the ‘cash-for-votes’ scandal. The foreign hand of global corporations is grabbing India’s food and energy sectors.
Secondly, by saying that Indian movements are not indigenous, the PM is insulting democracy of India, its people and is distorting facts. The people of Jaitapur fighting the Areva nuclear power plant are self organised and are fighting a French company. It is the government joining the foreign hand in land grab and imposing the nuclear plant that no one wants. The same is the case for Kudumkulam.
I started Navdanya 25 years ago to create an alternative to GMOs and patented seeds. When half a million farmers came out with us to say 'no to patents on seed,' they were speaking from India’s soil. When we organised collectively to stop BT brinjal and the environment minister did his duty under the EPA act and announced a moratorium, the PM removed him from the ministry, showing that the foreign hand of Monsanto works through the PM.
The PM has invoked development challenges. One big development challenge we face is the agrarian crisis which has pushed 2,50,000 farmers suicide linked to debt created by high cost non-renewable seed, unreliable seed like Monsanto’s Bt Cotton. There is a foreign hand in India’s farm suicides, and the PM has a responsibility to bring back seed sovereignty by supporting people’s movements, not attacking them.
The second big development challenge is hunger and malnutrition. Every 4th Indias is hungry. Every second Indian child is wasted and stunted. And the junk food culture promoted by the foreign hand has made India the capital of diabetes. We have solutions for growing more and healthier food. The PM should be promoting indigenous solutions. But he wants to turn hunger into a market for giants like Sodexo by introducing cash vouchers for food, which is affecting the public distribution system. The proposals in the proposed Food Security Act are drafted by the foreign hand. It is people’s movement which is defending India’s seed sovereignty and food sovereignty.