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Lalita Ramdas writes a message in solidarity with WRN and the people from the movement in Chutka.

September 18, 2018

 

How I wish I could have been with you in person at this significant event – the launch of the report on Resistance to the proposed NPP at Chutka in MP.

 

My congratulations to the WRN on this initiative.

 

After a careful reading of both the Report and the Executive Summary – I would like to share some observations and make some suggestions going forward.

It is significant that WRN uses the methodology of Community Conversations [CC], and interprets “conflict” to include struggles against predatory development and subsequent displacements. The 2018 Indian CC documents people’s resistance against a proposed Nuclear Power Plant in Chutka, Madhya Pradesh as a part of a continued struggle.

 

My own work – moving between local and global – has taken me from Literacy and Adult learning with women and children in urban and rural areas, to a long term engagement with Indo Pak peace and post Pokhran and 1998 , the anti Nuclear  campaigns within the overall framework of an Ecological, Environmental and Human Rights framework. All of these experiences have taught me many lessons and given me important  insights which might be useful to keep on our radar as activists for womens’ rights and the continuing struggles against the macro level policies in which they have little or no voice or place.

They care little for the ecological or human tragedies of displacement and destruction. And in order to give the struggles in Chutka, or Jaitapur or Koodankulam, [and indeed elsewhere],the correct context, it is important to locate and name them as part of a resistance against Nuclear  Energy – Nuclear power plants – and Nuclear weapons. Let us not forget that every nuclear power plant is a potential nuclear bomb factory too!

It is true that the fight to retain land, and resist [multiple] displacements is an emotive force which inevitably brings people out in protest, hitting as it does at the basic source of survival and security. And it is always the most powerful factor in uniting communities around a common threat. However the reality is that we live in times and under regimes driven by corporate-capitalist development paradigms and agendas. They care little for the ecological or human tragedies of displacement and destruction. And in order to give the struggles in Chutka, or Jaitapur or Koodankulam, [and indeed elsewhere],the correct context, it is important to locate and name them as part of a resistance against Nuclear  Energy – Nuclear power plants – and Nuclear weapons. Let us not forget that every nuclear power plant is a potential nuclear bomb factory too!

 

But in all these years what has been striking is the fear/reluctance to overtly take stands against Nuclear – be it energy or weapons. This is primarily because of the kind of positioning and posturing that has been done by the state – namely to project our nuclear achievements as synonymous with a particularly virulent and exclusive kind of nationalism. And it is also the reason for the mixed emotions and reluctance to take a stand against a technology which has been touted as part of our national achievement and therefore National pride.

 

The struggles against Nuclear power have all too frequently been crushed and rendered irrelevant by state and central governments alike, by terming them seditious and anti national. Many of us who have been vocal and active in the anti nuclear movement are already labelled anti-national in an IB report released some years ago!

 

Interestingly, just a few days ago there was a major headline in the Hindu – with a bold statement by a minister from TNadu

 

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/minister-confirms-power-outages-in-the-state/article24938618.ece

" Not even one MW of power has been generated from the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, which has been shut down for maintenance work for the past three months, he said. '
It's been shut more than 50% of the time since it started.The worst performing nuclear power plant in the world??!!"

"We told you so" - I can hear the amazing women of Iddinthikkarai saying - battle worn and weary - down but not out - we have been part of their struggle almost from the inception of the historical, non violent Gandhian protest against the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam.

"Minsaram venam - Anu shakti vendaam!  "Ofcourse we want electricity - but not from nuclear energy"
 

These women and men - most of them from fishing communities in the coastal villages - have withstood lathi charges - jail sentences for sedition - been labelled as anti-national - accused of getting foreign funds through the church in order to 'derail' development projects in India .......but for them and the children it was a battle for survival - survival of the waters around their coasts which had provided their menfolk a means of livelihood for generations ….And survival from the constant threat of radiation,and other accidents to the plant - for themselves and their children and grandchildren. Talk to any of the women and childen  from the Kudankulam campaign – they will take on the politician and scientist in  debate about the value and the dangers of Nuclear!
 

Uday Kumar – the charismatic leader of this long standing , totally non violent , Gandhian struggle will tell you more. But I particularly want to draw your attention to the incredible role played by the women.

 

 Fukushima – the latest and worst example of a deadly accident to the Nuclear Power plant – triggered by earthquake and tsunami no doubt – but ultimately showed up the inbuilt fault lines of the plant itself . I visited Fukushima as part of a study tour organised by a small but powerful anti nuclear group – No Nukes Asia in March 2016 – which marked 5 years of the Fukushima accident. The women and the mothers of Fukushima and other parts of Japan – have continued to wage an unrelenting struggle against Nuclear power and preventing the government , led by the private companies, to restart the plants.

 

Here is a link to an interview I gave to a journal in Japan – when I visited there two years ago

http://www.cnic.jp/english/?p=3415

 

Women  have played an incredible role in the protests and resistance - they have the most to lose - not just land and displacement, but the equally dangerous impact of nuclear power, radiation, accidents and long term impact on their bodies, their reproductive systems, the health of their children . But as in Koodankulam – there has to be a serious, ongoing education initiative by which communities, [women and children especially] are able to understand the direct linkage of nuclear power – the assault on our/their natural resource base and their displacement and survival.

In India – post the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998,  over 600 groups from across the country came together in an unprecedented move to set up the CNDP – Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace. Today, 20 years down the line – the voices and energies while still active, are significantly less effective – and we need the infusion of new energies and especially from women – not just from Chutka, but from across the country – at every nuclear site.

 

Women  have played an incredible role in the protests and resistance - they have the most to lose - not just land and displacement, but the equally dangerous impact of nuclear power, radiation, accidents and long term impact on their bodies, their reproductive systems, the health of their children . But as in Koodankulam – there has to be a serious, ongoing education initiative by which communities, [women and children especially] are able to understand the direct linkage of nuclear power – the assault on our/their natural resource base and their displacement and survival.

 

The WRN Report admirably highlights Key Findings, the Demands and Recommendations.  I call upon both WRN and others, to work out an action plan and a clear strategy going forward, on how we can make the Nuclear issue a national issue – which should form an intrinsic part of every struggle. Let us figure out how to unite and bring togetheron a common platform of resistance,  those waging their often lonely struggles in many states across this land .

 

Nuclear  - be it power or bombs – IS a women’s issue; it IS an issue of human rights ; it IS an issue that should be central to the struggle against violence and for peace; it IS an issue that trade unions should champion; it is an issue that affects every fundamental right to safe food, water, forests, oceans and air. It is above all an issue that affects the future of our children and grandchildren. And it should become a central part of the struggle against Militarism because it is the ultimate icon of Macho, Male, Militaristic and jingoistic nationalism.

We need to say out loud – We want food, clean drinking water, health, jobs, education - and safe, renewable energy. Take back your nuclear power plants - send back the nuclear waste to those countries who have sold us the technology with scant disregard for the costs – both human, economic and ecological.

 

In the words of Didi – Nirmala Deshpande – “Bomb nahin – Roti chahiye,  Goli Nahin – Boli chahiye”, JaiJagat.

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