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Navdanya Diary

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Welcome to Navdanya's Diary, an online journal of the spirit of Navdanya.
Updated: 59 min 1 sec ago

Tamil Nadu farmers protest in Delhi: Is there a permanent solution to farmer debt and suicides?

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 16:24

By Dr Vandana Shiva – FirstPost, 6 April 2017

Farmers from Tamil Nadu protesting at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Firstpost/TS Sudhir


For nearly three weeks now, more than hundred farmers from Thanjavur and Tiruchirappalli districts in Tamil Nadu have been protesting at Jantar Mantar, using macabre elements like bones and skulls to highlight and symbolise the problem of farmers suicides in the state.

They claim that the skulls belong to fellow farmers, who had committed suicide because of the adverse conditions in Tamil Nadu. More than 106 farmers had committed suicide in a month because of the worst draught to hit the state in more than a century, combined with debt due to high input costs.

The farmers want the Centre to announce a drought relief package of Rs 40,000 crore and to offer a better support price for their produce. The fact that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath recently announced a loan waiver for farmers worth Rs 36,359 crore, adds further weight to their demand.

The first question that comes to mind is why are farmers of Tamil Nadu being treated differently from the farmers of Uttar Pradesh? The Centre has conveniently said that it will not provide any debt relief as it is the purview of the state and is defined as the responsibility of the state government.

However, in every budget, the Centre imposes agricultural policies that further burdens the debt on the states and the farmers of India.

Debts in agriculture are a result of increasing costs of production, because of the dependence on purchased inputs – seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, machinery – and the falling prices of farm produce. This traps the farmers in a negative economy, where cost of production outstrips their earnings.

The debt problem began with Green Revolution, an initiative based on chemical inputs. The debt generated during the Green Revolution period was public debt. Farmer organisations created Karz Mukti Andolans and demanded remunerative prices. Debt was forgiven and Minimum Support Prices were institutionalised.

However, with globalisation and neo-liberal reforms, which put global corporations in the driver seat for agriculture policy, costs of inputs rose further, and prices of agriculture output fell dramatically.

An assessment for the WTO Ministerial in Cancun had shown that Indian farmers were losing $25 billion annually due to the falling prices.

The issue of Monsanto’s (American agrochemical and agricultural MNC) monopoly on cotton seeds after the introduction of Bt cotton is now in the courts – in the Competition Commission, government departments. More than Rs 5,000 crore have been siphoned off from India, leaving farmers in debt. Most of the 3,10,000 farmers who committed suicide since 1995 belonged to the cotton belt.

Meanwhile, the stranglehold of the Global seed and chemical giants on Indian Agriculture has increased with every step of neo-liberal reforms. Instead of promoting sustainable low-cost farming, governments have been increasing the budget for credit in agriculture. In 2017-18, Rs 10 trillion was allocated for farm credit, up from Rs nine trillion last year.

While farmers do need credit, they do not need to be pushed into a debt trap through imposition of costly inputs. Farmers also need fair and just prices. They need support of public policy extension for sustainable, ecological agriculture that increases the resilience of the soil and cropping system to draught and climate change, and increases the nutrition per acre and net income per acre.

No budget allocation is being made for public investments, that would liberate farmers from debt. Over 30 years, Navdanya’s (a non-governmental organisation which promotes biodiversity conservation, rights of farmers etc) work based on biodiverse, ecological and organic agriculture, with zero purchased inputs, has shown that we can feed India twice over with nutritious food (health per acre) and increase farmers net incomes at least four times.

The government does mention doubling farm incomes, but fails to mention whether it is gross income or net income. Gross income can increase if a farmer grows a cash crop with high debt, without taking care of the family’s food and nutritional security. But in this case, the net income will go down. More often than not, with high debt, the net income will be negative. Net negative incomes are at the root of the debt crisis and the epidemic of farmer suicides.

Partial debt relief is equivalent to mopping the water leaking from a broken bucket. Our agriculture is broken because it is driven by increasing profits for the seed and chemical industry, not by concerns for the sustainability of the soil, the biodiversity, the water, and the sustainable livelihoods of our small farmers.

In fact, all indicators suggest that the crisis of debt will increase because of the increasing control of MNC corporations on our food and agriculture systems.

Courtesy: National Crime Records Bureau

The NITI Aayog is now going to be run by corporate consultants, who will push farmers into deeper debt.
New forms of extraction as modern day lagaan are being “invented” – connecting the farmer to global cartels for every aspect of farming, from the seed to the market.

India has given the deepest knowledge of agroecology, soil and water conservation and rejuvenation, and breeding – that evolved 200,000 varieties of rice, 1,500 varieties of wheat, mango, banana, thousands of varieties of dals and beans, the richest diversity of animal breeds.

The corporate hijack of our food systems is the new colonialism, the new company raj, trying to create new systems of debt creation.

Monsanto has bought the world’s biggest climate data corporation and soil data corporation. It has bought many Silicon Valley firms to create spyware to be put into tractors, and into drones for collecting farm data to sell back to farmers.

By linking climate data and insurance, Monsanto expects three trillion US dollars in profit from farmers annually. This profit will be based on deepening the debt crisis, the agrarian crisis, and the tragedy of farmer suicides.

Coercively connecting farmers to the global corporate market for seeds, chemicals, insurance, climate data is the colonisation of our times. Colonisation through these instruments destroys the Earth and our freedoms.

To quell this colonisation, a Satyagraha Yatra will be held to celebrate 160 years of the first freedom movement in 1857, 100 years of the Champaram Satyagraha, 75 years of the Quit India movement, to sow the seeds of Jaivik Bharat 2047 – a vision of a India which is poison free, debt free and suicide free.

Categories: Ecological News

Keep food diverse. It’s healthy

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 22:08

By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Asian Age, 29 March 2017

(Photo: Pixabay)

Most of the chronic diseases of our times are “food style” diseases.


India has a rich and deep scientific and civilisational heritage of biodiversity, agroecology and ayurveda, which has sustained us for centuries. We have understood that the web of life is a food web.

All that is born is born of anna (food) indeed. Whatever exists on Earth is born of anna, and in the end merges into anna. Anna indeed is the first born amongst all beings; that is why anna is called sarvausadha, the medicine that relieves the bodily discomforts of all.

In the last few decades, our agriculture, food and health systems are being devastated by the assault of reductionist science, and industrial food systems based on toxic chemicals, combined with globalisation and free trade.

Industrialisation and globalisation of food systems is driven by chemical and pharmaceutical corporations, leading to an agrarian crisis, erosion of biodiversity in agriculture, increase in toxics in our food, the promotion of fast food and junk food and a disease epidemic. The agrochemical industry and agribusiness, the junk food industry and the pharmaceutical industry profit while the nation gets sicker and poorer.

The result has been an epidemic of more than 300,000 farmers suicides because of the debt due to dependence on costly chemicals and food, and a disease epidemic due to industrial and junk food.

India is rapidly emerging as the epicentre of chronic diseases, including cancer, obesity and diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, infertility, intestinal problems largely related to food. Around 1,300 Indians die every day because of cancer.

Most of the chronic diseases of our times are “food style” diseases.

Health and disease begin in food, and food begins in biodiversity, agriculture and the soil. When food is produced with toxic chemicals, processed and preserved with toxic chemicals it becomes a source of disease. When food is diverse and chemical-free it creates health.

Industrial monocultures using intensive chemical inputs produce nutritionally empty toxic commodities. These contribute to diseases of metabolic disorders, malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies.

Loss of biodiversity in our fields and our diet over the last half-century with the spread of the Green Revolution/industrial agriculture is not just leading to an ecological crisis, also to a disease epidemic.

We used to eat more than 10,000 plant species as humans. Now we depend on 10 globally traded commodities.

Navdanya is reversing this trend through creating community seed banks and practising biodiversity-based organic farming. This is the real answer to the ecological crises, farmers’ suicides and the disease epidemic we face.

For 30 years Navdanya has been rejuvenating the biodiversity in our farms and food systems. Biodiverse organic systems have the potential to feed two Indias and increase farmers’ incomes tenfold.

Our traditional agriculture recognised the importance of diversity. This is the agriculture that has spread across the world as organic agriculture through Albert Howard’s classic An Agricultural Testament.

Ayurveda as a science recognised that the digestive system is central to our health. Even Western science is beginning to realise what ayurveda understood 5,000 years ago — that the body is not a machine, and food is not fuel that runs the machine on Newtonian laws of mass and motion. Food is not “mass”, it is living; it is the source of life and health.

Western science is now finding out the same. As the book Mind Gut acknowledges: “For decades the mechanistic, militaristic disease model set the agenda for medical research. As long as you could fix the affected mechanical part, we thought the problem would be solved: there was no need to understand its ultimate cause… We are just beginning to realise that the gut, the microbes living in it — the gut micro biota the microbiome-constitute one of the major components of these regulatory systems.”

Our gut is a micro biome, which contains 100 trillion microbes and 1,000 bacterial species with more than seven million genes. There are 360 bacterial genes in our body for every human gene. Only 10 per cent of the cells in the human body are human cells. There are 100,000 times more microbes in our gut than people on the planet.

To function in a healthy way, the gut micro biome needs a diverse diet, and a diverse diet needs diversity in our fields and gardens. A loss of diversity in our diet creates ill-health. Adding one or two micronutrients through fortification to nutritionally empty food cannot compensate for the nutritional loss through loss of biodiversity in the diet. Fortification is a continuation of the failed mechanistic paradigm of food and health.

The ayurvedic science of food, nutrition and health recommends that we should eat food with six tastes — sweet, sour, salt, pungent, hot, bitter and astringent — in order to have a balanced diet. Behind each taste are potentials for processes that create and sustain the self-regulating systems of our body… Agni in the digestive tract is a great transformer, creating emergent properties. Taste receptors do not just lie in the tongue but are distributed throughout the gastrointestinal tract and are located on sensory nerve endings and hormones containing transducer cells in the gut wall.

The gut is increasing being referred to as the second brain. It has its own nervous system — which is being referred to as the enteric nervous system — or ENS, with 50-100 million nerve cells. Our bodies are intelligent organisms. Intelligence is not localised in the brain. It is distributed. And the intelligence in the soil, in the plants, in our bodies makes for health and well-being.

As the research by Dr Eric Seralini shows the sophisticated intelligence in the complex ecosystem of our gut communicates with the food we eat. When we eat fresh and organic food the regulatory processes that ensure health are strengthened. When we eat chemical food with toxics or nutritionally empty food, the communication leads to disease.

Eating is a conversation between the soil, plants, cells in our gut, and the cells in our food, and between our gut and brain. Eating is an intelligent act at the deepest cellular and microbial level. The cellular communication is the basis of health and well-being. We might be ignorant about the links between food and health, but our cells know it. Our body is more intelligent than the reductionist mechanical mind. Through the ecological sciences of agroecology and ayurveda our minds could catch up with the intelligence of the Earth, our bodies, its “doshas”, its cells, its microbes, which are trying to alert us to the dangers in our food and environment through the disease epidemic.

Eating is not a mechanical act through which we participate in an industrial food system. Eating is an ecological act through which we communicate with the Earth, farmer, those who transform our food and our own bodies.

No farmer should be committing suicide, no child should be hungry, there should be no epidemic of diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular problems in our biodiversity-rich, knowledge-rich land.

The same industrial food system that is destroying the health of the planet is also destroying our health. Biodiverse ecological agriculture is good for the Earth, our farmers and our health.

Categories: Ecological News

A Message for Women’s Day — 8 March 2017

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 13:31


Women and Biodiversity Feed the World, Not Corporations and GMOs

By Dr Vandana Shiva – Common Dreams, 20 May 2015

Women have been the primary growers of food and nutrition throughout history, but today, food is being taken out of our hands and substituted for toxic commodities controlled by global corporations. Monoculture industrial farming has taken the quality, taste and nutrition out of our food.

Read more

Women’s Day Celebration at Navdanya Farm

Navdanya- #Navdanya @30 #EarthUniversity #BijaVidyapeeth #Internatoinalwomensday celebration and saying No to #NoJunkFood

A post shared by Navdanya Bija (@navdanya_bija) on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:15am PST

Navdanya- #Navdanya @30 #EarthUniversity #BijaVidyapeeth #Internatoinalwomensday celebration

A post shared by Navdanya Bija (@navdanya_bija) on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:14am PST

Navdanya- #Navdanya @30 #EarthUniversity #BijaVidyapeeth #Internatoinalwomensday celebration and saying No to #NoJunkFood

A post shared by Navdanya Bija (@navdanya_bija) on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:13am PST

Navdanya – #Navdanya@30 #EarthUniversity #BijaVidyapeeth Come join us for Organic Retreat with Organic Holi celebrating international women's day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diA2fbuQs8o&feature=youtu.be And Holi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W0sTRWyJDU&feature=youtu.be

A post shared by Navdanya Bija (@navdanya_bija) on Mar 7, 2017 at 2:53am PST

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Biodiversity Or Gmos: Will the Future of Nutrition be in Women’s Hands or Under Corporate Control?                           
Categories: Ecological News

Satyagraha in ‘post-truth’ era

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 13:27

By Dr Vandana Shiva –The Asian Age, 27 February 2017


The British forced Indian peasants to grow indigo for the textile industry in England at the cost of growing food for themselves.

2017 is the 100th anniversary of the indigo satyagraha in Champaran. It was based on the refusal to grow indigo. The peasants had repeatedly said: “We would rather die than grow indigo”.

The British forced Indian peasants to grow indigo for the textile industry in England at the cost of growing food for themselves. The peasants starved while England grew rich. As R.W. Tower, the magistrate of Faridpur in Bengal, said to the commission on the grievances of the indigo tenants: “Not a chest of indigo reached England without being stained with human blood.” (Quoted by Rajendra Prasad in Satyagraha in Champaran).

According to Mahatma Gandhi, “As long as the superstition exists that unjust laws must be obeyed, so long will slavery exist.”

As Gandhi acknowledges, he did not “invent” satyagraha. He learnt it from the people of India. As he writes in Hind Swaraj: “The fact is that, in India, the nation at large has generally used passive resistance in all departments of life. We cease to cooperate with our rulers when they displease us. This is passive resistance.”

Movements of non-cooperation started wherever the British tried to tax the lands of the peasant and the homes of the people. The 1810-11 house tax satyagraha in Varanasi is the best recorded. But similar non-cooperation movements took place in Patna, Bhagalpur and other cities.

Having learnt from the people how India stayed democratic over centuries through the power of non-cooperation, Gandhi first used satyagraha in South Africa in 1906 to refuse to cooperate with the laws of the apartheid regime imposing compulsory registration on the basis of race. The contemporary movements against apartheid — “separation” — on the basis of religion and race, are a continuation of the spirit of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.

When Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915, he was called to Champaran by our freedom fighters — like Rajendra Prasad, who became President after India gained Independence — to strengthen the movement of peasants against the forced cultivation of indigo.

In 1930, when the British introduced the salt laws to make salt-making their monopoly, and the making of salt by Indians illegal, Gandhi undertook the Salt March, walked to Dandi Beach, picked up salt from the sea, saying: “Nature gives it for free, we need it for our survival. We will continue to make salt. We will not obey your laws.”

As I have written in Ecology and the Politics of Survival: “The Salt Satyagraha spread rapidly to forest regions, and became the forest satyagraha against the British appropriation of community forests. Chipko had its roots in the forest satyagraha of 1930 in Tilari in Garhwal.”

Satyagraha, the force of truth, is more important than ever in our age of “post-truth”. Satyagraha was, and has always been about awakening our conscience. In April 2017, on the anniversary of the Champaran Satyagraha, movements will undertake a satyagraha yatra, starting in Meerut, where the first Independence movement against the East India Company began in 1857. We will visit Varanasi to celebrate the 1810 movement against the British-imposed house tax. We will make a pilgrimage to Champaran on April 17, the day Gandhi started his satyagraha against the forced cultivation of indigo. We will join the valiant communities of Singur and Nandigram who stopped land grab through the land satyagraha. After paying homage to those who participated in the Salt Satyagraha of 1930 by travelling the salt road in Odisha, we will conclude the yatra on Mother Earth Day (April 22) at the Navdanya Community Seed Bank in Odisha, which has spread seeds of hope across India, after cyclones, after the tsunami and after repeated droughts. We will renew our satyagraha for the Earth, with a renewed commitment to save and sow the seeds of freedom. We know that the freedom for the Earth and all her beings is inseparable from the freedom of people. And it is the higher laws of protecting the planet and defending our interconnected rights and responsibilities that give us the “compassionate courage” to challenge petty laws and policies rooted in greed, based on violence.

The Salt Satyagraha inspired Navdanya’s seed satyagraha (bija satyagraha) and Seed Freedom movement.

Since 1987 when I first heard corporations talk of owning seed through intellectual property rights, my conscience, my mind did not accept it. I made a lifetime commitment to save seeds, and not to cooperate with IPR systems that make seed saving and seed exchange a crime.

Bija satyagraha is a people’s movement for the resurgence of the real seed, of the intelligence of farmers to be breeders and to co-evolve with the intelligence of the seed towards diversity resilience, quality. It is a movement that springs from the higher laws of our being members of the Earth community — Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — from the higher laws of our duty to care, protect, conserve and share. The bija satyagraha pledge that our farmers take says:

“We have received these seeds from nature and our ancestors. It is our duty to future generations to hand them over in the richness of diversity and integrity in which we received them. Therefore, we will not obey any law, or adopt any technology that interferes in our higher duties to the Earth and the future generations. We will continue to save and share our seeds.”

The bija satyagraha against Monsanto and its attempt to patent seeds and collect royalties, the jal satyagraha against Coca-Cola in Kerala and in Doon Valley, against water privatisation in Delhi, against industrial aquaculture in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha initiated by women successfully protected people’s right to safe drinking water. The sarson satyagraha against dumping of GM soya oil in 1998 and the attempt to introduce GM mustard in 2015, the satyagraha for Gandhi’s ghani has brought centre stage the right to safe, healthy food. The satyagrahas of the tribals in Niyamgiri, and peasants in Singur and Nandigram, stopped the corporate land grab unleashed by globalisation. These are just a few examples of the continuing power of satyagraha against the most violent resource grab and wealth grab of giant global corporations in our times.

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SEED SATYAGRAHA (Civil Disobedience to end Seed Slavery)                           
Categories: Ecological News

Women are creators of wealth, says expert

Sun, 02/26/2017 - 13:09

Times of India, 26 February 2017

Photo source: http://breathedreamgo.com/2013/07/protecting-the-abode-of-shiva/


PATNA: Noted environmentalist Vandana Shiva on Saturday argued that women everywhere were the main creators of wealth. She also drew attention towards the challenges of hunger and child malnutrition in the country.

Speaking at the two-day international seminar on ‘Cohesive Development: An Alternative Paradigm’ organized by the A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies (ANISS), Shiva said cohesive development could not be achieved without “common interests”.

Other experts like Leandro Morais, professor of Economics at Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas in Brazil, P M Mathew, director of Institute of Small Enterprises and Development in Kerala, Joseph Tharamangalam, professor emeritus at Mount Saint Vincent University in Canada, environmentalist Samar Bagchi, Indu Agnihotri, director of Centre for Women’s Development Studies in New Delhi, Koyel Basu, assistant professor at Jangipur College, West Bengal, political scientist G Haragopal and Mangesh V Nadkarni, former professor at Institute for Social and Economic Change in Bangalore took part in three technical sessions, including two parallel sessions, followed by a panel discussion on the concluding day of the seminar.

In the first technical session on ‘Economics of Solidarity’, Morais discussed the possibility of a new development model and the associated challenges, whereas Mathew highlighted the need for articulation of the “right to enterprise” in developing and emerging economies. While Tharamangalam appreciated Cuba for sustaining its socialist achievements in the environment of threat, Samar Bagchi said Tagore and Gandhi had understood the civilization crisis at the beginning of the century.

In a parallel session themed ‘Barriers to Cohesiveness: Social Identity Interface’, Indu Agnihotri talked about women’s rights and inequalities in the context of globalization. She presented a paper on the rise in crime against women and their marginalization after the 1980s. In another technical session on ‘Civil Society and Cohesive Development: Critical Reflections’, Koyel Basu said the normative agenda of development had to be people-friendly in order to be all-encompassing.

In the panel discussion titled ‘Towards an Alternative Paradigm’, G Haragopal argued that the Indian Constitution provided a vision of alternative paradigm, but people had drifted from it. Nadkarni, on the other hand, said capitalism had aggravated inequality and caused destruction of nature. The seminar concluded with the closing remarks of Barbara Harriss-White, emeritus professor at Oxford University.

ANISS director Sunil Ray said the discussions at the seminar highlighted inadequacies of orthodox models of development. “Cohesive development is a family of concepts with overlapping possible alternatives. Peace and harmony instead of profit motive are the basic tenets of the idea of cohesiveness,” he added.



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Categories: Ecological News

Seeding the Future, Seeding Freedom, One Seed at a Time

Mon, 02/13/2017 - 14:41

(From forthcoming book by the author: RESURGENCE OF THE REAL)

-Dr Vandana Shiva

Humanity stands at an evolutionary cross road.

We can consciously choose the path of Oneness – of our being part of One Planet, One Humanity, living and celebrating our many diversities, interconnected through bonds of compassion, interdependence, and solidarity. Or we can, for a short time, live enslaved by the 1%, afraid to change, clinging to illusions of security, while our real ecological security is undermined, and our real social security, embodied in real relationships,  is ruptured and broken through the politics of division, hate and fear.

We will either make peace with the earth, by realising we are part of her, not her masters, owners, conquerors; or the Earth will no longer allow us to exist. We will face extinction as humans, even while we push millions of other species to extinction. We will either make peace with our diversity, or destroy the social fabric that diversity weaves, and with it, destroy the social conditions of our continued existence.

Rushing rapidly on the path to extinction is not an intelligent choice for our species.
When we think of the planet and all of humanity in abstractions, taking the path of Oneness seems impossible. But when we think through the real relationships we have with the earth and each other in the real world, our consciousness expands, and the task of making a radical shift becomes, simultaneously, simple and possible. The Resurgence of the Real has become a precondition for the continued survival and evolution of our species. Living through Illusions is no longer a luxury we can afford.
Illusions of separation, atomisation, fragmentation, makes us feel powerless and isolated.
Seeing interconnectedness makes silos collapse and turn into bridges. Living in and through non separability expands our sense of self. Becoming aware of our relationships enlarges our being, and our potential and power. We become aware that rejuvenating the planet and reclaiming humanity are not two different ends, reached via different paths, because the earth and society are interwoven in one indivisible vibrant colourful fabric of life in autopoetic freedom.

Both the planet, and humanity, face the same threat from the same source – the 1% with one Mechanical Mind is destroying the intelligence of nature and humanity, running One Money Machine based on violence and war, piracy, and enclosure of the commons, creating poverty, dispossession and disposability. The 1% are attempting to recreate one History, to hide the piracy and colonialism, to hide inherited guilt, to continue their piracy of our time, to construct false identities, false claims to innovation, and the false claim to superiority – for their mediocracy and creative deficiency.

The illusion of “innovation” has reached its extreme with the claim of patenting life, which is in fact a claim to creation. Behind every patent on seed, and on a living organism is a loud thumping of chests, as the chant “God Move Over”. This illusion has real effects in the real world. The will to own and conquer nature and society’s common wealth, translates into the will to exterminate. Patents on seeds are pushing species to extinction, pushing farmers to suicide, as the 1% and their pet corporations spread their tentacles across the planet to collect rent and royalties, through the spread of GMOs and poisons. The 1 % are pushing One Industrial Agriculture – which is spreading poison, disease, and contributing to climate instability, transforming our daily bread into our daily poison.

This future is a zero future. It is a future with no Nature or People, no mind, no intelligence, no thought, no seed, no food, no agriculture, no wealth, no diversity, no freedom, no future. For people across diverse cultures, and diverse beings on the planet, it is truly an end of history.

The Dictatorship of the 1% had shaped an economy based on limitless greed, limitless extraction and limitless destruction. Through the construction of the media based Delusion of Democracy, representative democracy has become an instrument of corporate rule, on behalf of the 1%. The out of control money machine in also using cultural technologies of divide and rule – to deepen the politics of fear and hate. These structural relations between economies that kill, democracies that are dying, and cultures of fear and hate, demand that we think and act collectively to seed our future and seed our freedoms through Earth Democracy.

The pattern that is emerging of a world run for profits and power is the pattern this book has attempted to outline 

  1. Big Money makes Bigger Money. 8 men, with Bill Gates leading, control and own as much wealth as 50% of humanity. The money machine is out of control.
  2. The money machine has destroyed our freedoms, created an illusion of democracy, dividing people while dismantling our hard earned protections for the Earth (Environmental laws) and for people (Human Rights  Workers rights). Without these protections and regulations, brutal and extreme inequality and exclusion are inevitable. Disposability of the 99% is built into this system designed by the 1%.
  3. Destruction of the natural world and its power to sustain life, is the result of both the limitless appetite of the money machine, as well as the environmental deregulation it engineers. An Extreme Anthropocentrism, now centred on the personhood of corporations, is an attempt to not just deny humans their rights, but also dent the Earth her rights. At its core, however, corporate personhood is designed to allow the 1% to hide behind corporations when it comes to their liabilities to the planet.
  4. For the money machine, everything is a commodity, everything is for sale, everything can be, and must be, owned as property. IPRs are contemporary instruments of monopoly, of rent collection and extortion. Privatisation of all nature’s resources and public goods is necessary for the 1%. Through IPRs and privatisation, Corporations “Tax” people, instead of paying taxes to society. Seed royalties are private corporate taxes levied on farmers, which require the neutralisation of farmers rights to save exchange and breed their own seeds. Pharma royalties on medicines are “taxes” on the unwell. The war on time tested, affordable, indigenous knowledge systems such as Ayurveda, is mandated by the money machine. The digital economy and “war on cash”, allow financial and information technology corporations to impose corporate “taxes” on people’s hard earned and honestly earned money, which has already been taxed by governments.
  5. The Hyper-industrialisation of agriculture with GMOs and drones, the selling of data on climate and soil, has not only transformed our daily bread into our daily poison, it has also reduced farmers knowledge and collective knowledge of society, to “data “ and sold back as “big data” — the latest commodity for the monopoly X-change of the money machine. Through data mysticism, failed technologies based on the failed mechanical mind are deployed in the form of gene editing, gene drives. Diseases of micronutrient deficiency – created by the industrial monocultures’ blindness to biodiversity, creates the new push for Bio-fortification.
  6.  The poison cartel, controlling our agriculture and food, has created disease epidemics. With the poison cartel also enjoying a monopoly on medicines, as disease epidemics due to poisons in our food grow, so do their profits from patented medicine. Ignoring the ecological roots of disease and ecological approaches to health, the poison cartel profits from monopolies on seed, introduction of toxics in agriculture, and from disease. Sustained death, sustained profit.
  7. One Ag, One Science, One History, One Economy, is a totalitarian vision. It spells an End of Democracy, End of Freedom. Franklin Roosevelt had cautioned:
  8. The construction of one history is an exclusion of the diverse histories. The construction of the role of god’s chosen people, is license to kill, to destroy the communities, cultures, even countries. Whether it be “regime change” or reference to the “civilised world”, these are calls for war against those defined conveniently as “barbarians”. The Destruction of our social worlds, the devastation of entire civilisations, is leading to social instability, social conflict, social disintegration. It is spreading fear, hate and violence.
  9. The Money machine can only operate in partnership with the state , which is now a militarised, corporatised, Surveillance State. The rule of violence is not just threatening our freedoms, it is threatening the very lives of millions.

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”

The rise of corporate power above all other forms of power through the processes unleashed by corporate globalisation and neo liberalism is what Benito Mussolini called Fascism.

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

In 1999 , after we, the people,  stopped the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Seattle , movements got together and started the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre in Brazil with the vision “Another World is possible”. That is when I first spoke of Earth Democracy – as the alternative to the destructive corporate globalisation.
We can no longer think of ourselves as, atomised, powerless individuals, separate from the Earth, separate from each other. Freedom in, and through, our oneness and interconnectedness, has become a survival imperative. Breaking Free of the the 1 % and the constructs of their Mechanical Mind, The Money Machine, the Delusion of Democracy, is not just possible, it has become necessary. It is an ecological necessity because the world view of separation, combined with an illusion of limitless extraction and exploitation of nature, is pushing us to an ecological precipice.

It is an economic necessity, because a 1 % world must render 99% disposable, extinguishing our diverse creativities, potentials and possibilities. It is a democratic necessity, because the rule of the 1% is a violent dictatorship – it destroys our fundamental freedoms, and the freedoms for all beings to evolve freely in an interrelated world, in an Earth Family. It is a social necessity, because the world of the 1% must destroy our social being, our communities, our commons, through privatisation and the enclosure of all commons, reducing us to consumers, and dividing us on the basis of gender, race, religion. It is a human necessity,  because participating in a world of limitless greed, limitless profits  limitless violence, limitless power, robs us of our humanity. Greed, and, fear and hate, go hand in hand. Sharing, compassion and love, help each other grow.

The powerful few have divided us, and continue to divide us. Our strength is our Oneness, to which we must awaken. This is where the Resurgence of the Real begins. Real is the earth. Real is our oneness with our Earth. Real are our families, and friends, and communities (not Facebook). Real is the seed that gives rise to seed (not GMO, patented, toxic non renewable seed). Real is the food grown with loving, caring hands, and mindfulness of the beings in the soil (not the fake food industry manufactures, with toxic chemicals and fossil fuels, reaping limitless profits, while our health is destroyed). Since the pharmaceutical industry and the agrochemical industry is the same ball of rubberbands, they then profit from the disease they cause). Real is the intelligence of life. Real is our creativity, the creativity of our bodies and minds, the creativity of our hands, (not the “innovation” of tools based on piracy, and destructive tools to control nature and society for extraction and exploitation).

From the consciousness of Oneness, we become conscious of our power – our Shakti. The same Shakti in the universe, in the planet, in every member of the Earth Community.

From the duty to care, we get the courage to protect and defend.

Over the past four and a half decades of my service to the Earth, my intellectual journey to transcend the mechanical mind, my engagement in creating living economies based on non violence and real creativity, living democracies based on real freedom, and living cultures based on love and compassion, I have always turned to our struggle for freedom from the British Empire and to Gandhi’s teachings, for inspiration to act in times of hopelessness, to open spaces when all spaces are shrinking, to cultivate compassion and solidarity in times of greed, fear and hate, to reclaim our power when we are being told power is the monopoly of the those who derive fake power from money, and money alone.

While the times have changed, the patterns of colonisation stay the same, based on violence, destruction of people’s freedoms and economies, taking what is not yours, collecting unjust rents on what is not yours, creating constructs of divide and rule, and supremacy. And the patterns of liberation and freedom are perennial – truly circular, (unlike the “Zero” of the mechanical mind, which begins and ends with emptiness). These contours of freedom shape the path for the Resurgence of the Real.

Satyagraha is the deepest practice of democracy -the moral duty to not cooperate with unjust and brute law and exploitative and undemocratic processes.  This is the first step in breaking free of an enslaving, colonising system. “Satyagraha”-the force of truth- is Gandhi’s word for non cooperation with systems, structures, laws, paradigms, policies that destroy the earth and rob us of our humanity and our freedoms, that crush our potential for compassion and sharing, that atrophy our hearts, our minds, our hands.
Our freedoms are gifts of Civil Disobedience and Satyagraha. In 1848, Henry David Thoreau coined the term ‘civil disobedience’ in his essay on why his commitment to the abolition of slavery led to his refusal to pay poll tax. Higher moral laws compel citizens to disobey lower laws that institutionalise injustice and violence.
“The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice”  – Thoreau 

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”  – Martin Luther King Jr. 

“As long as the superstition exists that unjust laws must be obeyed, so long will slavery exist”
 – Mahatma Gandhi

Swaraj – self organisation, self rule, self governance, autopoesis – is the basis of Real Freedom in Nature and Society, beginning at the smallest level, emerging at highest. Resistance by itself does not create freedom from oppression. We need to also sow the seeds of real freedom in our imagination, in our daily lives, through our everyday actions, and our diverse and multiple relationships.

Swadeshi is self making, based on local resources, indigenous knowledge, and community. It allows the expression of our fullest creativity as human beings and as Earth Citizens. In Swadeshi, we are co-creative with nature’s intelligence, creativity, and regenerative potential, and the creativity and intelligence of our fellow human beings. Co-Creativity with nature combines production with conservation. It is not extractive, polluting, degrading to the planet and to human communities. It is the foundation of sustainability. It is the core of economic democracy. It is the source of Real Wealth, of well being and happiness for all.

Real Freedom and Real Wealth creation call for the practice of Satyagraha, Swaraj, Swadeshi in integrity and integration. Resistance without another imagination rooted in the real, combined with constructive action, will not create another world. Sowing the seeds of freedom is not imaginary, it is a real act, an act in which we become one with the Earth, one as community, and one in our hands, hearts and heads.

The violent dictatorships, of today and yore, divide. They divide us from the Earth, and our capacity to create with the Earth, so we are compelled to buy what we need as junk commodities -our food and clothing, our knowledge and information, our friendships and “happiness”.They divide us from each other. They divide us from ourselves, crippling our capacities to think free, be free, live free, our capacity to create and produce. Oneness is our being, our source of power. Our power to resist nonviolently. Our power to co-create, nonviolently.

Categories: Ecological News

Free trade: A corporate scam

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 15:10

By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Asian Age, 1 February 2017


In spite of all the knowledge we have of the link between industrially processed junk food and disease, the concentration of economic power in the hands of a small group of unelected, unaccountable individuals, translates into political power to influence governments, laws, policies and shape the future of our food and health and the future of the planet.

Freedom” has become such a contested term. When we, as people, use freedom we refer to people’s freedom to live, earn livelihood, to have access to vital resources like food, water, seed, land, health, education, knowledge, work, creativity, communication, etc.

Large corporations define freedom as “free trade”, which is corporate globalisation. The freedom of corporations and their masked owners is misused to destroy the Earth’s ecological fabric — the fabric of people’s economies and societies. “Free trade” rules are written by corporations to enlarge their freedom to commodify and privatise the last inch of land, the last drop of water, the last seed, the last serving of food, the last byte of information, the last bit of data, knowledge and imagination. In the process, they must destroy the freedom of the earth and the earth family, the freedom of people, their cultures and democracies, by enclosing the commons, commodifying and privatising every aspect of life.

Free trade is doublespeak. It is about an end to truly free trade between independent producers exchanging and selling goods at fair and just prices.

International trade is not an invention of the West, as is often said. In fact, the East India Company was invented in 1600 to usurp the trade of which India was the hub. That is why Columbus was trying to come to India. Before the British rule, India accounted for 27 per cent of the global economy. Britain was a mere 1.8 per cent. Over two centuries of British rule, India had been turned into a land of hunger and poverty.

As Shashi Tharoor points out in An Era of Darkness: “The British proclaimed the virtues of free trade while destroying the free trade Indians had carried on for centuries, if not millennia, by both land and sea.”

In 1716, the first global corporation, the East India Company, signed a Free Trade agreement with Farukhshir, called the Farukhshir Firman. This free trade agreement allowed the East India Company to take over India’s economy and colonise our beautiful land. In 1757, with the deceitful Battle of Plassey in which Robert Clive colluded with Mir Jafar, the British East India Company took over Bengal, going beyond international trade to rule. Today’s rulers — the billionaires — have amassed their billions through rent and royalty collections imposed through the free trade rules of World Trade Organisation and newer agreements.

In 1994, in Marrakesh, Morocco, governments signed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that led to the creation of WTO in 1995. Like the Farukhshir Firman, the WTO agreements are written by corporations, for corporations, to expand their control on resources, production, markets and trade, establish monopolies and destroy both economic and political democracy. The WTO and free trade agreements go way beyond international trade, which takes place outside national borders.

So-called “free trade” agreements invade into our daily lives taking our every-day freedoms away. They are trying to take away farmers’ freedom to save their seeds and exercise seed sovereignty. They attempt to take away our food freedom by dumping toxic food, junk food, GMOs and destroying our local ecological agriculture and food systems, which get priced out of the markets they have served. They even hijack and subvert our democracies. This is why I work for seed freedom, food freedom and earth democracy.

American biotechnology corporation Monsanto wrote the TRIPS agreement of WTO, which is an attempt to claim seeds as Monsanto’s “invention”, and own seeds as “intellectual property” through patents. The aim is to own and control seed and make super profits through the collection of royalties. We have seen the consequences of this illegitimate corporate-defined “property” rights in India with extortion of “royalties” for GMO seeds leading to high seed prices. Approximately 300,000 dead farmers is evidence of the institutionalised genocide.

Cargill wrote the agriculture agreement of WTO. The result has been that India — the largest producer of oilseeds and pulses — has emerged as the biggest importer of both. The edible oils being imported are GMO soya oil and palm oil, both extracted with Hexane through solvent extraction. Both lead to massive deforestation in Argentina, Indonesia and Brazil. We are importing dals from Canada and Mozambique, while our farmers are unable to sell what they have grown.

The junk food industry, including Coke and Pepsi wrote the SPS agreement of WTO. Our Prevention of Food Adulteration Act was dismantled and replaced with the FSSAI, which is being used to shut India’s rich and diverse, small scale, home and cottage industry based food businesses, under pseudo-safety laws. Even Gandhi’s ghani (the indigenous cold press oil mill) in Wardha was served notice under the FSSAI. In spite of all the knowledge we have of the link between industrially processed food or junk food and disease, it is the junk food industry that gets government subsidies, while our artisanal, healthy food systems are banned through laws, or shut down through the Washington inspired “war on cash” also called demonetisation (and the digital economy).

The neo-liberal economic paradigm is an attempt at decolonisation and re-establishment of corporate rule through the use of old instruments of conquest, control, and wealth extraction in new form, accompanied by deregulation.

While the rhetoric of globalisation, neo-liberalism and “free trade” is “less government”, the reality is that from the perspective of people, corporate globalisation — based on enclosures of the commons — requires the creation of a corporate surveillance state, an invasive militarised police state which can violently protect the interests of the one per cent, at the cost of ordinary people.

Deregulation has impacts on our lives, livelihoods and freedoms. Consolidation and spread of corporate power, undermining real economies that nourish and sustain people, is one impact. At a deeper level, one of the most significant shifts was the emergence of financial power over the real economy, and the destruction of the real economies of nature and society. Another major consequence has been the mutation in politics, with representative democracy moving rapidly from “of the people, by the people, for the people” to “of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations”. Worse, the concentration of economic power in the hands of a small group of unelected, unaccountable individuals, translates into political power to influence governments, laws, policies and shape the future of our food and health and the future of the planet.

In India, the highest policy making body, Niti Aayog (also serving executive functions), is packed with people whose only expertise is corporate “free trade” and trade liberalisation. The promotion of imports when we don’t need them, the undemocratic undermining of government institutions working according to the Constitution to protect the farmers rights to seed, and people’s rights to affordable and safe medicine, pushing GMOs and hazardous medicines are examples of corporate metrics outweighing real life.

Niti Aayog has become a one-stop-shop for global corporate lobby groups to transform India’s economy into their private (backyard) market. This is systemic corruption of our democracy and a recipe for destruction of people’s economies.

The concentration of economic power and destruction of local economies creates unemployment, displacement and economic insecurity. The insecurities are used by the powerful to divide societies along racial and religious lines. Fragmentation and disintegration of societies is intimately linked to the extractive economic model of wealth accumulation by the few.

In this period of decolonisation, we need a new movement of freedom. That should be our national commitment in 2017, the centenary of Gandhi’s Champaran satyagraha.

Categories: Ecological News