Nothing surprises the Indians and India-watchers anymore that come from the hutches of RSS / BJP. Someone from Rajasthan – ignorant of history, had recently claimed that Emperor Akbar was not an Indian and ‘Great’ is not the title for him.
Another loose cannon and retired army chief – now sitting in august chair of foreign ministry, abused the media with the ‘Pressitude’ howler. His remark was reprehensible to the hilt and proved again that V K Singh is immature and unfit for the sophisticated job of diplomacy. Today, instead of expressing his regrets, he has fired another shot – “I’m upset that my unique brand of humour has not been understood by these press. Yes with an E. They need to undergo a boot camp where I could drill some wit into them.” This is the time ripe for Amit Shah to discipline him.
It is also ironic that the Prime Minister of India has expressed his inability to comment upon these issues as his take on them is trivial. So, he had been selectively silent, and the insulting, polarizing and bristling statements from the RSS Camp-followers keep spouting, adding to nation’s perpetual outrage. But lo, the next whammy comes from the PM himself.
The recent coinage of ‘Five Star Activists’ at the conference of Chief Justices has left behind a bitter residual political distaste. Sarcasm and hyperbole in election rallies was another matter; a serious and unsubstantiated remark from the most responsible authority of nation is another. It didn’t sound at all a clarion call to judiciary to deliver without fear; it was simply a suggestive jumper of Legislative Overreach. It was cryptic and added nothing to the stature of Prime Minister or raised the morale of Indian democracy.
To add insult to injury, unfortunately, the ‘Greenpeace’ is the latest victim of legislative overreach as the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notice on its website stating that FCRA certificate of ‘Greenpeace’ is cancelled and its accounts have been frozen.
Greenpeace is a non-profit organization that is working for a cleaner and healthier environment all over the world. The activities of this organization had often antagonized powerful corporate interests and it is an open secret that honeymoon of NDA and corporate lobby is not yet over – might be somehow delicately strained.
Greenpeace had helped exposing the high pesticide levels in ‘TEA’ and advocated for ecological farming. Naturally, it has irked the ‘pesticide lobby.’ Greenpeace has argued with substance that in Dharnai, Bihar, forests should not be destroyed to give place for coal mines. Greenpeace had brought awareness about serious air pollution problem in Delhi that is creating health problems for its denizens – especially for the poor children.
In Jan 2015, this scribe has written an article – ‘Modi Sarkar Vs Priya Pillai, End of the Fundamental Right’ about Greenpeace in ‘IndiaOpines.’ Following are some relevant paragraphs from it:
“Priya Pillai, the Greenpeace Actist was invited by a British parliamentary panel to talk about my work with forest communities in Mahan. We have equally engaged with all major parties and relevant politicians and administrators in India on this issue, and continue to do so. It is important to take note that India’s new government faces a crucial test of its support for big business over plans to let a British-registered energy company “Essar Energy” which is the owner of UK’s Stanlow Oil Refinery – and its partner, the Hindalco company, were granted permission to mine in the Mahan forest of Madhya Pradesh to cut down a tract of forest to make way for an open cast coalmine.
It was argued that the coal was needed to fuel a power station and an aluminium smelting unit that were crucial for the country’s economic development. But the plans have placed them on a collision course with the thousands of people who rely on the forest for their livelihoods and with environmental campaigners, including Greenpeace.
Among those directly affected are more than 5,000 members of tribal communities with legal rights to use the forest. Greenpeace claims that the mine would mean the felling of more than five million trees, affecting the livelihoods, with at least two villages being razed. It has also raised concerns about the effect on wildlife, which includes leopards and sloth bears. Tigers and elephants are reported to be occasional visitors.” End of quote.
The reasons for the latest action against Greenpeace proffered by MHA are flimsy and euphemistically ridiculous: “They used sarcastic language. They encouraged people to demand water to drink.”
The report sharply critiqued a Greenpeace ad which attacked the low financial limits in India’s nuclear liability clause. “On August 14, 2012, Greenpeace posted a full-page color advertisement in The Hindu, with a sarcasm-laced header, ‘Can you spot the foreign hand in this picture?’ and equally sarcastic content on the foreign hand being present in ‘the air-conditioned offices in New Delhi, carpeted wall-to-wall with nuclear industry lobbyists.”
Greenpeace is being accused of placing “illegal obstructions to India’s energy plans” and “creating hurdles in the way of progress of our nation.” The arguments goes like this: “Mobilisation of over 2,55,000 people from drought-affected areas to stop diversion of water from agriculture and drinking.”
Another charge says: “Funding and creating activism and protests in areas where none existed, e.g.: in the villages of Mahan Coal Block by locating an office in the area and deploying GIS [Greenpeace] employees at the location, who spent all their time and GIS resources in spreading misinformation amongst villagers.“
The feather weight reason says: “The annual report of the society for 2013 shows this address [Bengaluru] and does not show the registered office address [Chennai]. All the vouchers and correspondence of the society also show its Bengaluru address. Website of the association,www.greenpeace.org.in, also does not show the address of the registered Chennai office. This in effect means that for all practical purposes it is functioning from its Bengaluru office.
The report raised objection about the salary of Greenpeace Advisor.
As discussed in the beginning of this article, the report says that Greenpeace was highlighting high levels of pesticide in India’s tea and was alarmed that the organization was trying to test the presence of harmful substances in other foodstuffs. The report says:
“It has also decided to target other commonly consumed goods such as rice, wheat, etc. and highlight the abuse of pesticide in these sectors.
Government seems to have made up its mind and Greenpeace is also determined not to back down. Greenpeace is connected with the ground realities of land, people, their life and health. Greenpeace India had also declared this Thursday that it will not be cowed down by a “campaign against dissent” and is seeking legal counsel in the matter. It has termed the action of government as a “smear” campaign and vowed to continue work towards clean air, water and inclusive development in India.
“This is a smear, pure and simple. All of this was put before the Delhi High Court when we brought a case against the Centre and the court decided in our favour.
“This feels like a revealing moment, one that says much more about the MHA than it does about Greenpeace. We believe in the Indian legal system. A campaign is being waged against dissent, but we will not be cowed,” said Samit Aich, Greenpeace India Executive Director.
By: Naim Naqvi