Friday, October 10, 2008

Peoples’ Right over Natural Resources

People's declaration adopted at Convention on Third Freedom Struggle for Peoples’ Right over Natural Resources at KHATKARH KALAN on 21st September, 2008
Freedom is a basic human right. Indians have fought a prolonged and protracted struggle for independence. In started in 1757, when East India Company imposed its rule in a deceptive way. This imposed a tyrannical rule to destroy our peasants, artisans and traders. This first phase of independence movement lasted up to 1857 when Company Raj was replaced by the British Government. The second phase of independence movement ended in 1947 when the British had to leave the country. During this phase in 1907 S Ajit Singh of Kharkar Kalan (uncle of S. Bhagat Singh) launched a peasant movement along with other freedom fighters which became popular as “PAGRI SAMBHAL O JATT”. Sixty years have passed since we got freedom from British Imperialism. But basic problems of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, squalor and disease have not been solved. Not only is that, in many aspects worse is happening.
We are feeling the urgent need to again raise this popular pre independence slogan “PAGRI SAMBHAL O JATTA DHARTI SAMBHAL OYE”.
But now this slogan means protecting all the natural resources—land. Agriculture, water, seeds, plant and animal biodiversity and human beings because all these are fast going out of our control and are being snatched/grossly damaged by few greedy and criminal elements. Now the respect of our turban (pagri di laaz) can only be saved by saving and further developing the traditional knowledge required to save all these natural resources. The mode of development and model of agriculture being followed for the last 4-5 decades have not only snatched these natural resources from the peasants but have grossly damaged these precious gifts of nature.
Our natural resources are being snatched away from the peasants/people with money power using fare and fowl methods. These are not only snatched but are virtually being raped and destroyed to extract maximum immediate monetary benefits. It is a new form of slavery which is being perpetually imposed on the peasants as well as natural resources. The few greedy people have created a culture through which nature is being bled to death. Mother Nature has enough and is ready to suckle milk to every living being but we are trying to suck her blood instead of milk.
Our respected gurus have taught us “pawan guru, paani pita, maata dharat mahat”—air is our master, water is father and earth is mother. That was our culture—deep love and respect for nature and natural resources. We were taught from the very childhood to use nature in such a way that it was not damaged in any way; rather it was perpetually enriched by our life activities. We were taught to live in complete harmony with nature. But we are destroying delicate balance of nature. The industrial agriculture which is being imposed on us is totally anti nature. Nature and natural resources are being bled to death. Human beings as part of nature and a very important natural resource are also being damaged. They are also being bled to death along with other components of nature.
We have surrendered our agriculture to callous and greedy market forces through which few very rich corporations are successfully sucking the blood of our peasants through unnecessary and costly agricultural inputs. We have lost control over our natural resources like water, seeds, biodiversity and traditional knowledge.
The process of enslavement through seeds which started as hybrid seeds has been completed through GM Seeds. In addition to that, GM Seeds are dangerous and has the potential of proving to be greatest environmental disaster ever seen or imagined until now. They were brought with high fie claim of ending the use of pesticides, which have been proved to be thoroughly bogus and false. It is really unfortunate that our agriculture scientists are praising them without any evidence of their usefulness and ignoring all possible serious harms to the balance of nature. It is very obvious that they sing the praises only to get personal benefits from these very rich corporations.
The experience of Bt. Cotton has proved beyond doubt that their claims of saving the crop from pests are utterly false. Large numbers of secondary pests have started to attack the cotton crop. The experience of Vidherba Farmers is a living proof. They had brought the GM cotton under a misleading statement that it is not a food. The fact is that all cotton seeds are being crushed to extract oil, which is eaten as ‘vanaspati ghee’ by humans and remnants are fed to the cattle as oil cakes. So it is a food of humans as well as cattle. Now hey are coming up with Bt. Brinjal and large number of other food crops without proving the safety of these crops beyond doubt.
A few multination corporations have a monopoly over the manufacture and business of agrochemicals and seeds. Seventy three percent of business in agrochemicals and thirty percent of seeds is controlled by few MNCs like Monsanto, Dupont, Cargill, Bayer and Novartis etc. Monsanto started its business as manufacturer of chemicals weapons. The notorious Agent Orange (2, 4 D organophos) used as a weapon of chemical warfare in Vietnam by America was manufactured by Monsanto. The same chemical is being sold to peasants under the name of Roundup as an herbicide. It kills everything except the crop which is grown from the modified seeds of Monsanto. After monopolizing the business in agrochemicals, now the company is fast trying to achieve the same in seeds. Through this monopoly the company is fast working to completely control our agriculture. Its loot through the sale of the Bt.Cotton seeds is well known to everyone. During the first year seed was sold at the rate of Rs.1700/- per packet (450 G), out of which Rs. 1300/- per packet was the royalty of Monsanto. After the protests from the peasants the rate per packet was reduced but it was a crude joke because the amount of seed to be used per acre was doubled.
Availability of pure toxin free water for drinking, bathing, other domestic uses, for cattle and for agriculture is becoming a grave problem in Punjab. The reasons are multiple. Excessive use of agrochemicals and industrial waste water, full of highly toxic chemicals being thrown into our water bodies, without any treatment or cleaning, are the major culprits. The city sewers are being thrown into the rivers and rivulets without any treatment. The excessive and indiscriminate suction of deep ground water also adds certain toxins to our surroundings. Just like the fossil fuels which contain large no. of impurities which are sucked from the huge depths of earth and are thrown on the surface of the earth where they act as toxins for living beings. The deep water also contains certain impurities which act as poisons for living beings. In addition the ground water is fast getting depleted in our state because of the over use. These factors have created havoc in Punjab which have lead to a serious Environmental Health Crisis in Punjab. The situation is so grave that we need to launch a mass movement immediately to save our water from depletion and poisoning.
The addition of highly toxic chemicals in our environment is becoming the cause of mass death of large no. of species. Large no. of species are virtually getting eliminated. Many worms and insects residing within the earth including the earthworms, many insects on the surface of earth; large no. of carnivorous birds-eagles, owls, crows and sparrows; frogs and snakes are fast getting eliminated. The policy of industrial agriculture which promotes highly poisonous agrochemicals including very strong herbicides and monoculture of particular crops with modified seeds of MNCs is proving highly destructive to plant biodiversity. MNCs are making all out efforts to control our agriculture through monopolizing the seeds and consciously destroying our own seeds. Large no. of laws and regulations are being passed by our governments to fulfill the wishes of Corporations to destroy our plant and animal biodiversity including local seeds and to replace them with seeds of MNCs. About thirty such laws and regulations have been passed in the recent past.
We are being chained by the chains of this new form of slavery which can prove very dangerous in the coming years. Our food security is under grave threat. The control of our forests and agriculture is going into the invisible hands of capital, our natural resources and biodiversity is being destroyed under a deep rooted conspiracy. People are never consulted about these changes. Our traditional social institutions and cultural values are being systematically destroyed. The destruction of human and animal health is clearly visible.

The health of our people is worsening day by day. The highly toxic chemicals being added en masse to our environment by burning of fossil fuels, chemical farming and industrial waste water are causing slow poisoning of human beings along with all other living beings. Old infectious diseases are becoming more dangerous and resistant, new infectious diseases are coming in a big way and there is a huge epidemic of non infectious diseases including cancers of various organs.
Our immune system, which is a God given gift to remain healthy, has been grossly weakened by the slow poisoning. As a result of this weakened physiology we are more prone to infectious as well as non infectious diseases including various cancers. Our reproductive system has become the easy target because of its sensitive nature. The sperm counts have fallen to half in two generations; the number of childless couples has tremendously increased; onset of puberty in female children has advanced by 2-3 years; puberty in male children has been delayed by 2-3 years; the prevalence of menstrual disorders have tremendously increased in all age groups; cysts and tumors of ovaries and uterus are more common now; the prevalence of spontaneous abortions, premature births, still births, congenital malformations and early childhood deaths have increased. There is an epidemic of congenital malformations—Hypospadias, Undescended Testes, Congenital Hernias, Neural Tube Defects including Anencephaly, Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, T-O Fistulas, Mental Retardation, Cerebral palsy, Autism and large number of Metabolic Disorders. Mental Retardation in children has increased from 1 in 40000 to 1 in 40 in 40 years. One thousand times increase. All these are because of large number of dangerous poisons in our environment. The child is highly vulnerable to environmental toxins because of fast multiplication of cells within the womb of mother and early childhood. We will need large number of Pingalwaras in Punjab in the coming years.
Our gurus had taught us that farming is the most sacred and best profession. But by adapting the alien ways of farming we have made it the dirtiest and most hatred profession. Our agriculture used to be self reliant, sustainable and symbol of prosperity. We have 10000 years of recorded history of agriculture. In the world, the first books of agriculture were written in our country. When Europe was still using tree leaves and animal skins to cover their bodies, we were wearing woven clothes in India. That was the symbol of our rich heritage of agriculture as well as artisanship. In the last forty years we have lost our traditional knowledge and skills of agriculture. An alien model of agriculture based on use of big machines, highly toxic chemicals and altered seeds have been imposed on us by the imperialists just to sell their products and to impose a new form of slavery on us. They have succeeded in befooling us. Our own agriculture universities, scientists and governments have actively helped them to achieve their aim.
Through this model-- our peasants have been looted, environment poisoned, fertility of soil grossly reduced, natural resources and delicate balance of nature destroyed, large no. of animal species killed, generated environment health crisis for humans and cattle, fast loosing animal and plant biodiversity and global warming and danger of end of life on this planet has become our fate. Visionaries like Bhagat Puran Singh had been warning us from the very beginning, but we did not listen and here we have reached.
During the last ten years 160000 farmers have committed suicides. This is only a tip of the ice berg of misery through which our peasants and agriculture laborers have been living through all these years. They are living under the constant burden of ever increasing debts and the humiliation associated with this. Many of them are selling their lands to save their honor and are becoming laborers. The agriculture has become highly unpopular economically unviable profession and the youngsters of peasant families don’t want to adapt it making the families vulnerable to all the problems of life.
Natural farming, which is a highly developed model of our traditional agriculture, is the gate way of freedom from intense economic exploitation of peasantry; use of costly and poisonous inputs; chronic poisoning of all living beings; destruction of environment and natural resources; destruction of plant and animal biodiversity and gross disturbance of forces of nature like global warming. A farmer practicing Natural Farming is the true disciple of our gurus who stands for “PAWAN GURU, PAANI PITA, MAATA DHARAT MAHAT”.
We, the lovers of freedom of humanity, all living beings and nature have gathered in the familial village of Shahid-e-Aazam S. Bhagat Singh to hold our heads and hearts together to discuss the present scenario of our country and accept the challenge being posed by the imperialists and oppressors. They are imposing this new form of slavery through the science and techniques of agriculture. If we succeed in convincing our farmers to stop their model of enslavement and adapt the model of Natural Farming as model of freedom, we can stop this chain reaction. The farmers will have no link with the market as he has not to purchase any agriculture input. He prepares every input in his farm-seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and implements. After keeping the produce for his family and cattle, he will sell directly to the consumer through farmer-consumer co-operatives or to a small trader at a price of his choice.
Natural farming is proving to be a great success in various parts of the world including our own country. There are countries like Cuba who are doing Chemical Free Farming and are not only self-sufficient in food and agricultural products but are exporting the excess to other countries. In our own country it is becoming a highly successful movement in Maharashtra under the dynamic leadership of an agriculture scientist Mr. Subhash Palekar. In Andhra Pradesh, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) is leading this movement. They have demonstrated the success of this model in ten lac acres of land. The State and the Central Governments have accepted their success and are coming forward to expand the land area to twenty five lac acres during the next year. In Punjab, hundreds of farmers in our villages have adopted this model and demonstrated its success beyond doubt. It is proving to be superior model in all respects as compared to the chemical farming. We need to do a lot to make it a popular movement. We have to organize camps in each village to teach the techniques of natural farming and establish a seed bank in each village to save and propagate our own improved seeds. We also need to launch a campaign of tree plantation in our villages.
Punjab today needs a mass movement which can effectively save our natural resources from further degradation and restore our sovereignty over it. This movement will become an integral part of a broad struggle for third phase of independence movement along with other movements for social justice and for opposing the process of globalization. This movement has to save our traditional knowledge of agriculture, enrich it with the experience of various states and countries and transmit it to the next generation. This movement has to restore the depleted fertility of our soil and purity of our water. This movement will help to detoxify our bodies from the cumulated toxins and restore our health. This movement will help to build a pro people non-polluting and sustainable model of development in industry as well as agriculture.
Farmers and all other nature loving people will be the base of this movement. We believe that issues discussed on this pious land of Kharkar Kalan will prove to be an important mile stone in the progress of this movement in our country. The philosophical and technical discussion about the new model of development and new mode of agriculture will have to be tested in the geographical, social and cultural contexts. The thoughts of our gurus expressed in Gurbani, the founder of Kuka Movement Baba Ram Singh, S Bhagat Singh, Bhagat Puran Singh and hundreds of other Freedom Fighters will be light houses for us.

Umendra Dutt Dr. Inderjit Kaur Prof. Jagmohan Singh Surjit Paatar

Dr. Nirmal Singh Satnam Singh Manak Dr. Daljit Singh Dr. Amar Singh Azad

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