The Negativism Of NGOs
The government has now to take the fight it has initiated to its logical conclusion, that is banish the NGOs which have used the funds on political activities—which is strictly prohibited—and on activities other than the purpose it was purportedly donated
The Modi government, merely one month old, dared to poke a mammoth beehive nest of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). It needs formidable resolve and courage to take on over 20 lakh NGOs registered under Societies Registration Act, Trusts Act etc. Of these, the number of NGOs registered under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act would be less than two per cent—43,525—which received almost Rs 12,500 crore from abroad in 2013. During 2011-2012, 22,702 NGOs reported receipt of foreign contribution amounting to Rs 11,546.29 crore. But, barely two per cent of them reported it.
One can imagine what a fearsome block of opponents have been challenged. The over 43,527 NGOs that have been receiving between Rs 11,500 plus crore and Rs 12,500 plus crore for years, have the resources for counter-offensive, which in fact has started. In manpower too they have the numbers to cause chaos. Apart from their members and ‘volunteers’ there are hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries. An army of such numbers can, unless suppressed immediately, make life difficult for the man on the street, cause chaos in economy, infrastructure and other development projects. And if the report that 50 per cent to 70 per cent of funds received from foreign sources is spent on the founders themselves, is even partially correct, them these founders are violating the basic terms for accepting funds. But this can be proved only if they comply with the notice given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). While they have time to respond, they have started using their huge resources to battle the government through social science commentators, the media and even politicians, left liberals and intellectuals who claim to be votaries of freedom of speech and claiming democratic right of opposition.
The government has now to take the fight it has initiated to its logical conclusion, that is banish the NGOs which have used the funds on political activities—which is strictly prohibited—and on activities other than the purpose it was purportedly donated.
Jay Mazoomdar, writing in Firstpost, has made pertinent observations and useful suggestions about what needs investigation. “We certainly don’t need witch-hunts. However, even without a witch-hunt, I believe it would be a good thing to look closely at what the NGOs are saying and doing, and challenge them on their positions.
“Democracy, after all, is not only about NGOs challenging government and those in power; it also means citizens, and even government, challenging the claims of NGOs. The challenge clearly must be on facts, issues and claims.”
A report on receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution by voluntary associations by the MHA is revealing. “Though the number of associations reporting receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution is increasing, it is a matter of concern that a large number of registered associations still do not submit their statutory annual returns mandated by the law.”
There is a vexatious political angle too. Over 150 foreign-funded NGOs were reportedly camping in Varanasi to ensure the defeat of Narendra Modi. The most voluble opponent, poster boy of the media, Arvind Kejriwal, too has an NGO about which a case is pending—regarding receipt from foreign countries.
Indian media (both mainstream media [MSM] and social) has been set on fire over the leaked IB report. This report is critical on some of the foreign-funded NGOs, at the helm of protests against various Indian government policy initiatives, especially in the domain of energy, power, infrastructure, defence, and agriculture. It is not clear when the report was prepared and who leaked it to media.
The “pro-establishment” folks (as branded by People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy [PMANE] fame Uthayakumar; one of the persons named in the report) have called for a thorough investigation of funds received and utilisation of funds by these NGOs. The foreign-funded NGOs named in the report and their sympathizers have mounted a counter attack to defend their position. Many like Jairam Ramesh, Prashant Bhushan and such like have termed the MHA notice an attempt to suppress dissent and freedom of speech.
True dissent is part of democracy. But if that is motivated by an outsider donor who has his own objectives, it is then an attempt to subvert the country’s interests. One daily, for example, reported that even though NGOs received Rs 12,500 crore from abroad in 2013, barely two per cent of them reported it. The money was often not used for the purposes for which it was meant. As Jay Mazoomdar wrote in Firstpost, this is what needs investigation. We certainly don’t need witch-hunts. However, even without a witch-hunt, I believe it would be a good thing to look closely at what the NGOs are saying and doing, and challenge them on their positions. Democracy, after all, is not only about NGOs challenging government and those in power; it also means citizens, and even government, challenging the claims of NGOs. The challenge clearly must be on facts, issues and claims.
In India, one tends to respect and put faith in non-profits over profit-seeking enterprises, because the former are “social workers”, or selfless and charitable entities—philanthropists in a way who do good to the needy and suppressed without seeking anything in return. However, this is a myth. In terms of basic intents and purposes, there is almost no moral difference between a corporation seeking profits for promoters and shareholders and a non-profit seeking to fight for a cause (environment, tribals) or doing charity.
A corporation seeks customers. It seeks to sell products to them above cost so that it can make a profit and share it with stakeholders—including government. In the process it creates jobs, a socially valuable service.
While doing its job, it may also do damage —empty wastes into rivers, pollute the atmosphere, or exploit natural resources without regard to the environment.
An NGO is a corporation without a financial profit motive or promoters. But it has donors—the people who provide the resources for its work. It has customers, the people it claims to serve. It would be a mistake to assume that if a work is done for free, it somehow is beyond scrutiny. Even incomes and donations to temples are audited and scrutinized. Many trusts presumably helping the poor have been caught misappropriating funds. NGOs cannot put themselves above the rule for scrutiny just because they are non-profit organisations. Just like corporations, they are also driven partly by self-interest. So there has to be some yardstick to measure whether they are doing net good or harm. When it comes to companies, one can put jobs, incomes, tax payments and community spends on the positive side of the ledger. Environmental damage, flouting of the law and ill-treatment of workers can appear on the negative side. Put both the positives and negatives together, and we have some idea about whether a corporation is doing more good than harm.
It is much tougher to estimate say environmental damage. One has to add up the cost of cleaning up a polluted river, or the time and effort involved in planting the 10,000 trees cut to set up a factory or coal mine. This means when it comes to some NGOs which are for environment and for preserving land for the people, the positive side is tougher to measure. The NGOs that the IB report talks about are basically into “causes” relating to environment and social issues, some bordering on the political. Here, the positive side is tougher to measure. For example, how does one estimate the damage to the environment from a new dam beyond the people displaced (who need to be rehoused and rehabilitated) and trees cut? What is the damage caused by a new coal mine?
Quite a few NGOs oppose these kinds of development projects even though these projects have both beneficiaries and losers. What should be measured in such cases if there are more winners than losers, whether the losers are adequately compensated, and weigh the short-term gains against unknown long-term costs? For example, stopping a coal-based power plant on the plea that it causes pollution and global warming is questionable.
The coal mine provides jobs and incomes. It provides power to drive industry and even to villages. How do we measure these benefits against the future cost of environmental damage? Can environment be mitigated by compensatory work? Also, the moral certainties of NGOs trying to stop coal or nuclear projects and replacing them with renewable sources of energy need to be challenged. While it is easy to point a finger at grimy coal, the downsides of renewable energy, including solar and wind power, are being seriously underestimated.
Take solar energy. It needs lots of land. Is land a cheap or abundantly available commodity in India, especially in the context of the UPA’s ill-thought-out Land Acquisition Bill? Matt Ridley, in his book The Rational Optimist, says that to replace conventional power in a country like America with solar power would require land equivalent to the size of Spain. As for wind power, Ridley writes: “Wind turbines require five to ten times as much concrete and steel per watt as nuclear plants, not to mention miles of paved roads and overhead cables.” Ironically cement, steel and cables are all products of extractive industries that NGOs love to rattle their sword about.
It is to be noted that solar power brings its own pollution. The photovoltaic cells have silicon, and toxic metals like mercury in them. No human activity is free from side-effects. Germany, which had announced ambitious plans for generating 40 per cent of its power through renewable sources by 2025, is now scaling back given the huge costs. There is no way India can meet the needs of its growth without coal or nuclear or hydel energy.
The NGOs, if they are genuinely interested in the welfare of the people and the country must rethink and not oppose every coal-based power plant or nuclear project blindly. It is up to them to prove that they are not anti-development. Right now, that’s not clear.
The Intelligence Bureau Ngo Report
The Criticism From Expected And Most Unexpected Quarters
An Intelligence Bureau report has accused “foreign-funded” NGOs such as Greenpeace, Cordaid, Amnesty and ActionAid of “serving as tools for foreign policy interests of western governments” by sponsoring agitations against nuclear and coal-fired power plants across the country.
The NGOs, said to be working through a network of local organisations such as PUCL and Narmada Bachao Andolan, have negatively impacted GDP growth by 2-3 per cent, claims the IB report sent to the PMO and other government agencies.
The IB report — addressed to PMO, heads of joint intelligence committee and R&AW, National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), coal and power secretaries, home minister, finance minister and Cabinet secretary, and signed by IB joint director Safi A Rizvi — alleges that the “areas of action” of the foreign-funded NGOs include anti-nuclear, anti-coal and anti-Genetically Modified Organisms protests. Apart from stalling mega industrial projects including those floated by POSCO and Vedanta, these NGOs have also been working to the detriment of mining, dam and oil drilling projects in north-eastern India, it adds.
According to the report dated June 3, these foreign-funded NGOs are allegedly the influence behind “Praful Bidwais and Medha Patkars”. The document, the details of which were accessed by TOI, accuses Greenpeace of having expanded its activities to oppose coal-fired power plants and coal mining and receiving Rs 45 crore from abroad in the last seven years.
“It is using foreign funds to create protest movements under ‘coal network’ umbrella at prominent coal block and coal-fired power plant locations in India,” alleged the IB report.
Since 2013, Greenpeace has undertaken protests in five project-affected villages of Mahaan (in Madhya Pradesh) coal block allocated to Essar and Hindalco under the banner of Mahaan Sangarsh Samiti. Its activists have been targeting coal mining companies specifically Coal India Limited, Hindalco, Aditya Birla group and Essar as they “stand in their way”, the report alleged.
“To encourage Indianness of its anti-coal approach, Greenpeace has financed a private research institute to study health, pollution and other aspects at Mahaan and plans to use the Mahaan case as a precursor for a ban on all coal blocks,” it said.
The report has also raised questions over nearly $40,000 deposited in two bank accounts of S P Udayakumar, convenor of People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy that has been at the forefront of the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear project. The money was supposedly transferred by Ohio University for sending in resources and articles in the field of Kudankulam.
The report further alleges that six NGOs are at the forefront of anti-GM Food activism in India, with Germany being the main source of funds.
The most laughable criticism is that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) report is badly written. IB is an agency for sleuthing wrong-doings and has agents, who do not have to be a Shakespeare or a Bernard Shaw. What is of relevance is that the fundamental issue of impropriety by foreign funded NGOs has been established by it prima-facie.
Also agreed is the argument that the material put together by IB is not entirely new. The writings of Professor Vaidyanathan, the book and articles written by Radha Rajan were accessible to a few. The IB report was simply calling government’s attention to the issue, but the media coverage has expanded its reach. One of the global NGOs – Greenpeace that figures in the IB report is not only flagged by India, but has also been flagged by Canada for such disruptive actions. The linkage details about their funding pattern and modus operandi is seriously alarming. .
The confession of one of the co-founders of Greenpeace details how exactly the organisation has shifted its focus from ecological protection to what amounts to ecological terrorism and anti-globalization. He also confirms how Greenpeace does not believe in the concept of “greater good” which is at the root of Indian democratic system.
Not to be left-behind Arvind Kejrwal, leader of Aam Admi Party (AAP) not surprisingly lashed out at the IB report which alleged that some NGOs are hurting India’s economic security. He said it is nothing but “criminalisation of dissenting voices” and is being misused by political bosses.
“The purposefully leaked IB report, marked secret naming senior reputed activists, NGOs and people’s movements and accusing them of hurting the national economic security is nothing but an attempt at criminalising dissenting voices. The content, tone and tenor of the IB report in fact suggests that it is being misused by its political bosses,” AAP said in a statement. The IB in a report ‘Impact of NGOs on Development’ said opposition to several development projects in the country by a significant number of NGOs will have a negative impact on economic growth by two to three per cent.
It has also claimed some NGOs and their international donors are also planning to target many fresh economic development projects including those in Gujarat.
Terming the IB as a completely “non-transparent organisation” with a huge budget but no “accountability”, AAP alleged that it has often been used by governments to further their political interests.
“AAP sees this as a move to curbing the activities of groups and individuals working to protect the life and livelihood of people living on the margins, and working to protect land, water, forest and other natural resources.
“But it is clear from this report that people controlling the IB are now playing for the interests of the big private corporations and targeting groups who have been opposed to loot of natural resources and mineral wealth of the country in the name of development,” the statement said.
“AAP condemns this dishonesty and vindictiveness of the security agencies and believes that such attempts needs to be nipped in its bud itself and NDA government should desist from promoting such mischief and rather focus on other important tasks on hand,” the statement added.
AAP noticeably relied on is old theory that to succeed accuse others of maintaining nexus with corporate and the other allegation that corrupt practises are indulged in, in the NDA regime. Such arguments failed in the recent polls, they would not help AAP.
The fact is that Indian media (both MSM and social) has been set on fire over the leaked IB report, as it is critical on some of the foreign funded NGOs, at the helm of protests against various Indian government policy initiatives, especially in the domain of energy, power, infrastructure, defence, and agriculture. It is not clear when the report was prepared and who leaked it to media.
The “pro-establishment” folks (as branded by PMANE fame Uthayakumar; one of the persons named in the report) have called for a thorough investigation of funds received and utilisation of funds by these NGOs.
The foreign funded NGOs named in the report and their sympathisers have mounted a counter attack to defend their position. The counter attacks have begun. This is why it is necessary to critically analyse the validity of the arguments put forth in their defence.
The counter attacks are from all the NGOs and hundreds of thousands of their members and beneficiaries but worth examining are those that are critical of the IB report. Some which have been widely reported include the group of prominent activist including Former Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdas, former Director General of Tripura Police K S Subramanian, senior columnist Praful Bidwai, anti-nuclear activist S P Udayakumar. They held a press conference and defended the NGO’s. Popular news portal The News Minute (hitherto TNM) managed to get a copy of the leaked IB report and presented a critical analysis. Noted columnist Surjit Bhalla trashed the IB report and presented his defence of Green Peace and foreign funded NGOs.
Greenpeace has been joined by Environmental activists in rubbishing the IB report. Greenpeace said it was a conscious attempt by the country’s premier intelligence agency to crush and stifle opposing voices in civil society. The organization also wrote to the home minister, requesting him to share a copy of the report “to know and understand impacts of this labeling”.
“It is disturbing to know that information of the IB report has been leaked to a media house and not been shared with the party concerned,” said executive director of the Greenpeace India, Samit Aich, in his letter to the home minister.
“As far as the source of funding is concerned, the NGO said, “Greenpeace India is funded by individual supporters in India. Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization that does not accept any donation from corporate or government entities.”
Environmentalist Ramesh Agrawal, who recently won the Goldman Environmental Prize for resisting destruction of forests by private mining companies in Chhatisgarh, said the report was an attempt to muzzle dissent. “I don’t believe the IB report. Environmentalists working on the ground have always been branded as anti-development. At a time when global warming is threatening us and air pollution is the most serious public health problem, why is the government suppressing voices of dissent?” he asked.
The voice of dissent is not being suppressed, but yes surely being countered. This is what the democracy is all about. For instance, the GDP loss figure has no scientific basis say TNM and Bhalla to trash the entire report. The quoted GDP numbers may be exaggerated, but does that automatically trash the validity of the entire report?
Intelligence services’s job is to gather Intelligence and warn the government for action. They are not a prosecution body or a CAG to present statistically valid econometric analysis on their subjects. The intention of quoting a GDP number appears to be a “usual” middle managerial trick of attracting attention from the top management. The top management also knows this trick and take such claims with a pinch of salt.
The loss due to Medha Patkar’s Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) against the Narmada dam over the past 10 years for instance has been estimated to be 45,000 crores; much more than the project value itself.
A few TV channels raised the issue of the timing of the leak. They believe that IB is doing a disservice to the NDA government by assuming such a report would please the bosses. But the above ToI report establishes that IB was directed to monitor NGOs by the UPA government in 2012. It would be judicious, since the country’s security and development are involved, for the MHA to order an investigation to be safe.
NGOs reiterate that they have a well-defined MoA and have obtained proper FCRA registration. They say that the funds have been received in a transparent manner under FCRA. If there was any problem, why was the funding stopped at the input stage?
Well, taking funds (input) in a transparent manner is mandated by law; and does not “bestow any virtue to the NGO. Secondly the ambit of FCRA act is not limited to “how you get foreign funds” but it also clearly lays out “what you can do with it, and what you can’t do with it”.
“NGOs talk about input transparency as a sheen to hide what they have done with it.
This is similar to AAP which projects its input transparency while hiding its expenditure. (AD)
The other question is does an NGO need foreign funds to take up such people issues? If so what are the motivation of the foreign donors sponsoring it? Should the NGOs be conscious and accountable to that? If one looks at the “establishment expenses” of these NGOs, one starts wondering if they are protecting the interests of the founders or the people. In a democracy there are “ways” by which one fights for the rights of people. Contrast the fight against Sethusamudram Project vs. Kudankulam Project to see the difference in the “way” the fight is being pursued. NGOs are welcome to take the legal avenue; obtaining stay orders for controversial projects from the designated courts. The onus then shifts to the government to justify a particular project is “for greater good” to the society, even if it causes a certain degree of hardship to people that are displaced. Agreed that this may delay the project, but at-least the “way” is legal and civilized. This also ensures timely rehabilitation and compensation to the people affected. This “way” is not disallowed by FCRA Act. It is only when these NGOs organise massive shows of “public disruption” (like the ones witnessed in Kudankulam or Narmada valley), the question of violation of law comes into picture. In reality there is nothing “unfair” about FCRA act or the “expected behaviour” of NGOs as sought by the “establishment groups”.
The problem the government would face is that most NGOs consider themselves above law—being a movement for the ‘good’ of the people. These NGOs do not reconcile and let the project proceed even after a verdict of the Supreme Court. They don’t because many of these NGOs including Greenpeace don’t believe in the ethics of “utilitarianism” or greater good. They subscribe to alternate ethics school called “no one’s rights should be offended”. Hence the differences are simply irreconcilable if one reads theoretical literature of these two schools of thought. But on critical issues someone has to bring the curtains down. And that would have to be the government.
8673 associations registered under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976, which did not submit the mandatory FC-3 returns (annual returns of receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution) for the consecutive three-year period i.e. 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04, were placed in the prior permission category vide Gazette Notification S.O.1621 (E) dated 26th October, 2005 published on 18th November, 2005.
Thereafter, an Amnesty Scheme was notified in the Official Gazette vide Notification S.O. 924 (E) dated 16 th June, 2006 published on 21st June, 2006, whereby associations placed in the prior permission category were given an opportunity to furnish either pending returns or a proof of submission of returns for the above-mentioned 3 years period till 31st December, 2006. Associations, which submitted either pending returns or proof of submission of returns by 31st December, 2006 were removed from the prior permission category, thereby restoring their registration.
Representations continued to be received from the associations placed in the prior permission category for restoration of theirregistration. On careful consideration of the matter, it has been decided to extend another opportunity to the associations which stand placed in prior permission category, as per the Amnesty scheme notified in the Gazette of India vide S.O. 427(E) dated 10th February, 2009.
As per the Amnesty Scheme, associations may submit their annual returns exclusively for foreign contribution received in the prescribed FC-3 format accompanied by Receipt & Payment account and Balance Sheet, duly certified by a Chartered Accountant for the periods 2001-02 to 2007-08 ( seven years) within six months from the date of publication of this notice. Such associations, which did not receive any foreign contribution during a particular year within the period 2001-02 to 2007-08, would be required to furnish a NIL return for that year. Suchreturns may be sent by registered post acknowledgement due to the section officer (FC-I Section) (VD)
In the case of Narmada Dam it took the SC to bring the curtains down after years. But even that was not acceptable to Medha Patkar. What will be acceptable to her? That all her opponents disappear by voodoo so she can prevail? We protest, we agitate, we stall and all that is fine. But surely, the SC of this country or the Parliament has to be accepted as the final arbiter.
One cannot go on forever with “only my opinion should prevail” kind of agitation. That then is not merely opinion; it is intolerance for an opposing view to succeed lawfully. The problem with the Medhas, Greenpeaces and Kejriwals is that any other outcome other than that of their choice is unacceptable to them, even if lawful and legally endorsed. But they would have to be taught—That they are not above law, the country and the majority.
Of these, Greenpeace (GP) is the McDonald’s of NGOs. They operate in 40 countries and have 28 regional offices, thousands of staff and unknown number of volunteers. Let’s read a bit of what former GP founders say. This is an excerpt from ex-founding member Paul Watson (on the anti-whaling adventures of GP):
Greenpeace is a major international corporation. Over the years, those of us who envisioned and founded Greenpeace way back when we watched in frustration and anger as faceless bureaucrats turned ideals into profits. Greenpeace is a massive direct mail publicity machine utilising media and psychology to part people from their money… We created a large green corporate monster that has forgotten where it came from and is now busy feeding frantically at the trough of public guilt.
Alert Signal From Home Ministry
The Union Home Ministry has warned that the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) sector in India is “vulnerable” to risks of money laundering and terrorist financing, noting that less than 2 per cent of the NGOs in the country are registered with the government for receiving foreign contribution.
In the Union Home Ministry’s latest report on the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for the year 2011-12, Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami is quoted as saying: “The general policy of the government is not to encourage soliciting of foreign contribution. However, if it is intended for bona fide welfare activities, foreign contribution can be received by obtaining registration or prior permission from the Centre.”
Stressing the need for necessary steps for “rigorous enforcement” of the FCRA law as well as more coordination with foreign countries, the latest Home Ministry report has noted: “While it is not proper to make sweeping generalisations, it is necessary to note that the NGO sector in India is vulnerable to the risks.” The report terms it a “matter of concern” that a large number of the registered NGOs also do not submit their statutory annual returns to the government, pointing out that nearly half the registered NGOs under FCRA—over 19,000 out of the 43,527—did not file annual returns with the government which contain details of foreign receipts and utilisation.
“Although there’s no centralised database on the number of NGOs in the country and the quantum of finance involved in their operations, unofficial figures indicate that there are over 20 lakh NGOs registered under Societies’ Registration Act, Trust Act, etc., and thus, the number of NGOs registered under FCRA would be less than 2 per cent of the total number of NGOs.
Though the number of NGOs reporting receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution is increasing, it is a matter of concern that a large number of registered NGOs still do not submit their statutory annual returns mandated by the law,” report has said. A child welfare organisation in the US, Compassion International, has emerged as the biggest foreign donor to India, nearly doubling its donation from Rs 99.2 crore in 2010-11 to Rs 183.83 crore in 2011-12, as per the report.
The second biggest donor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is also from the USA with a contribution of Rs 130 crore. The US remains the biggest donor country at Rs 3,838.23 crore, a 20 per cent jump in donations from the country from the previous year.
In fact, the total foreign donations coming to Indian NGOs have also risen for the first time in three years, by 11 per cent to Rs 11,546 crore in 2011-12, according to the report. The report has intriguingly mentioned Tibet as a separate country while listing foreign donations sent by Tibet of Rs 99 crore to Indian NGOs. Organisations based in Delhi, meanwhile, received the maximum foreign donations of Rs 2,285 crore rather than any other state while a Chennai-based NGO, The World Vision of India, received the highest amount of foreign contribution.
Meanwhile, Indian NGOs cite rural development as the top area where foreign funds received by them were utilised, says the report. While NGOs declared spending to the tune of Rs 945 crore in the field of rural development, they quoted Rs 929 crore and Rs 824 crore of having been utilised in the area of welfare of children and construction of schools or colleges, respectively. (AD)
“Greenpeace has become the world’s largest multinational feel-good corporation… Greenpeace is posing and marketing the illusion of saving the planet and they have an army of gullible volunteers and paid canvassers who have been talked into believing that Greenpeace is really saving the environment and saving whales in particular… It’s obscene, and it is high time people woke up and saw these large green organizations for what they really are—high-powered public relation machines designed to fleece the public… It is now the Green Piece organisation. They have become very successful and efficient with their incredible corporate skills in turning hot red blood into cold green cash.”
Greenpeace was started with a few volunteers in small boats to oppose nuclear tests by the US. Their boats kept getting bigger and bigger. Their protesters and agitators knew how to create drama and how to collect money. This tactic is now common to modern agitation technology in India and abroad. One could say GP was among the pioneers: Money and Drama.
In 2013 two of GP (Australia) activists invaded a farm and destroyed GM crops. They filmed their act of vandalism and used the video for publicity and drama. The NGO was sued and paid $280,000 in damages. They are rich, they can afford that. The two volunteers were given suspended sentences because it was a first time offence and one of them was pregnant. The two employees took the rap but GP didn’t take any responsibility for this act. I wonder if these are “democratic” protests (do read the whole story).
Remember our own Kejriwal re-connecting power-lines of defaulters and asking people not to pay bills? India tolerates these jokers because they peddle a fake “moral superiority” over everyone else. And many gullible people fall for their tricks. You can oppose GM crops or power bills but there is a line that one does not cross. The dangerous addition to agitation technology is break laws, destroy private property, intimidate and dare the govt to take action.
As with the MNCs, if you want to find masses for your products where do you go? China or India! And that’s how GP found their market in India. And people like emotion, drama and the media feeds it to them in large doses. Just say the govt is “anti-poor” and you can easily collect 1000 people around you in India and also, importantly, money.
And tell Indians: No nuclear power, no coal-fired plants, no dams. Call everyone who opposes you corrupt, call everyone who opposes you anti-poor, call everyone who opposes you anti-environment and you have a winner. That is precisely what GP does and that is precisely what Arvind Kejriwal & Co do. And what GP did earlier in the sea is now an adopted “agitation technology” in India. These make good TV but the leaders of these agitations do deserve to be prosecuted for endangering lives of ordinary people. The MP river-agitation was a farce though. The leader was quite clever in appearing to sink in water but was always ready for TV soundbites. Let me reproduce a ToI report, which is a great example of “choreographed agitations”:
“Welcome to the village which was in the eye of the storm with ‘jal satyagrah’ for the past three weeks… It’s a story of how the entire media was taken for a ride with the help of mobile phones, which came in handy for keeping tabs on TV crews. The spot shown on TV channels where the agitators protested is not the village proper but the banks of a canal running into the Narmada…When ToI inspected the place of demonstration after the water receded, the spot was found to be only two feet deep… ‘We were sitting in water,’ said Mehtab Giri, a villager who joined the protest. ‘First, we laid bricks and stone slabs on which were placed iron doors used for sluice gates of the dam. This would help us sit comfortably during the protest…’ Whenever the media took shots, the second arrangement in the slightly deeper water was used. Agitators waded into water to show the level sometimes chin-deep and at others, neck-deep. When they stood up, it was hardly till their waist. And they weren’t in water all the time; they frequently walked in and out of the canal… there were only three people in the water most of the time… The third was NBA worker Chittarupa Palit, who also walked out to brief the media and file documents. Others took turns. The evidence is all in the television shots”.
There! That’s modern TV-time agitation technology for you. And the hearts of viewers melt at the sight of these suffering people and they start shelling out money. What about Kudankulam and that charlatan SP Udaykumar? He’s as fluent in nuclear-science as Russians are in Bhojpuri. There are cases filed against him and I hope he is prosecuted for his illegal activities. The agitation he led was nothing but “sponsored fear-mongering” backed by Churches. The story is a long one but explained in depth by @TheKaipullai in his blog: “5 reasons why there is something wrong with the protests in Kudankulam” Part-1 and Part-2. I strongly recommend you read both parts and decide for yourself. Of late, it is money and not causes that motivate the actions of many of these unscrupulous NGOs. And they will claim they are God’s angels sent to save you from yourself. “We are killing the earth, we are killing the earth”! That is enough to frighten anyone from the devil that is you.
There is an irony to the GP story that came out only 2 days ago on June 16. When the greed for money is never-ending, what do you do? Gamble! That’s what some people do and that is what GP did. “Greenpeace loses £3m in currency speculation” says the headline. And the explanation is: “We offer a full apology to our supporters for the series of errors that led to the loss”… Greenpeace says the staff member, who worked in its international finance unit, was not acting for personal gain, but had failed to obtain authorisation from senior management. He has since been released from his contract”. So you see, as in the GM farm destruction it’s the employees who acted on their own. GP had nothing to do with it. Oh yeah, some employee handled millions of Euros without the GP management having the slightest of clues on what was happening. Do you believe that? If that is believable then you can understand why many gullible people buy the dooms-day screaming of Greenpeace. It’s money and innovation in agitations.
By Vijay Dutt