Focus on India
The last month again was a happening one with numerous events which were just as varied. We are happy to bring you in our newsletter some of the activities that took place with the participation of FOCUS.
One of the greatest events that the month of October marked was the 25th anniversary of the Narmada Bachao Andolan – the movement to save the Narmada from the onslaught of development that the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam enjoined. Celebrations took place with solidarity meetings and gatherings of members of different peoples’ movements, who are struggling to hold on to their civil, economic, social, and political rights.
FOCUS members also participated in the NBA anniversary celebrations and we bring you vignettes from the celebrations through a photo-essay. This newsletter also has a short write up that encapsulates how the NBA has been an inspiring force behind some other peoples’ non-violent struggle to hold on to their land.
The preceding month was also witness to another historic event – the World Education Forum that was held in Palestinian cities in the West Bank, and in Beirut, Lebanon. To hold a forum under the Israeli occupation was no mean task but the Palestinians rose to the occasion and showed the world that when there’s a will there is a way too. In solidarity with the Palestinians many international organizations and individuals too participate din the forum and FOCUS India was one of the few Indian, indeed Asian participants in the forum.
Simultaneously as FOCUS was participating in the WEF in the West Bank, it was also playing host to a Chinese delegation in India on climate change. A China-India people’s exchange on climate change was organized by FOCUS and this newsletter contains some reflections of one of the Chinese participants of the exchange.
If these activities were cause for celebration then there were concerns too. India is embarking of a FTA signing spree with a number of countries. This can seriously jeopardize the livelihoods of millions of people across different sectors of the economy. There has been a flurry of activities to challenge this decision of the Government of India, a decision which needs no endorsement by the Indian parliament. In order to disseminate further information about the India-EU FTA in particular we publish a letter endorsed by 175 groups from India and Europe. Please do endorse this letter and lend your voice to the campaign against FTAs.
We hope that you will as usual go through this newsletter and send us your valuable feedback (email us at foi-feedback(at)focusweb.org) which is so important for us
In This Issue
* From Narmada to Kanjhawla
* Attending the World Education Forum in Ramallah
* China and India on Climate Change: Some reflections
* Halt India-EU Trade Negotiations
Photo essay on 25th anniversary of the Narmada Bachao Andolan
The Forum Against FTAs (Free Trade Agreements), held a meeting on 13 November 2010, at the Constitution Club, New Delhi, India in order to voice concerns and discuss issues pertaining to the proposed EU-India Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement, which is soon to be signed by the European Union and the Government of India. The negotiations have gone through 13 rounds and could pick up more pace in the context of new EU Trade Strategy for 2020 announced last week. There is political intent and official pressure on both sides to finalise this FTA, BUT THERE IS NO SOCIAL BACKING FOR SUCH A TRADE AGREEMENT.
The 1 December 2009 Lisbon Treaty consolidates the EU’s investment policies in one comprehensive policy. This gives less free play for individual member states as against the European businesses lobbying for more favourable laws and policies from trading partners. India is only one of the many countries in the “South” that is being targeted as a way out of the financial crisis for business and industry on both sides.
Focus on India is back, and with a new look. Some of you may have thought that we had gone into hibernation, but we had only been engaging in some introspection. And that has yielded results. Not only have we changed the design of the news letter but we also decided to incorporate a new feature – a review of a book or movie.
The last quarter of the year has heralded in a hectic phase with a spate of events and programs. There have been so many that its challenging to decide where to begin from. So we begin with our latest and most recent event – co-hosting the conference on A Just Peace for Palestine. And this sets the theme for this issue of the FOI – peace and democracy.
The conference, jointly organised by the Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, the Palestine BDS National Committee, the Centre for Policy Analysis, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation, and of course Focus on the Global South, India, saw many luminaries from across the world participating, demanding a just and quick resolution of the Palestinian issue, so crucial for peace in West Asia, and by extension in the world.
Activists, intellectuals, diplomats and politicians gathered in New Delhi in September to demand that Israel fulfill its international obligations regarding the Palestinian people and territories or a movement for its boycott, divestment and sanctions against it be launched. In this issue we bring you the resolution that the conference concluded with, as well as excerpts from a powerful the speech made by Father Miguel Brockmann, former President of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, and one of the conference participants.
Any talk of peace and democracy in India must involve our relations with Pakistan and on this front a pleasant surprise awaits us. Acitvist and FOCUS researcher Jatin Desai brings to us his experience of celebrations at the Wagah border, joining or dividing – your perspective – India and Pakistan on the night of 14-15 August, which marks the independence days of both states. He also brings us an instance of what joint, peaceful and determined action can result in.
Finally, on a more somber note, we include a brief summary of a meeting held in Mumbai to discuss the crisis visiting Kashmir and means to find a way forward.
Please go through this edition write back to us with your thoughts and opinions even as FOI embarks on a new phase of its journey.
A Just Peace for Palestine
- Excerpts from Father Miguel Brockmann’s speech: A Just Peace for Palestine
- Resolution and Plan of Action of the Conference on Just Peace in Palestine
India-Pakistan: Moving Ahead
- Kabul Disco reviewed by Aditi Bhaduri
The tragic bakery bombing in Pune, coming a day after the announcement of the resumption of bilateral talks between Pakistan and India, underlines the need for both countries to collaborate with greater vigour. The statement from last month’s India-Pakistan conference in Delhi maps out in detail a possible road map for such a composite dialogue. As the statement elaborates it is only when diplomatic channels are open and transparent can both countries set up joint mechanisms, and share intelligence and related information on combating terrorism. Recognising the core importance of Kashmir, the statement also calls for de-militarisation of the region and the establishment of an independent tribunal to ensure that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is implemented in letter and spirit.
Monthly e-newsletter from Focus on the Global South,
Into its second week of negotiations at Copenhagen, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is in a deep crisis. The media has been rife with reports of leaked texts, closed room meetings, walk-outs by delegates, influence of corporate lobbyists and attempts to divide the developing world through coercion and bribery. The subversion of democracy continues on the streets of Copenhagen as well with hundreds of young activists being arbitrarily arrested and attacked by the Danish police (who are hard-pressed to show that the millions spent on security were not in vain). Further, civil society participation is being curtailed during the crucial last leg of the negotiations with only 90 NGO representatives out of the more than 15,000 registered allowed into the official venue on 18 December.
The outrage at this thoroughly undemocratic process is growing and on 16 December activists from the Climate Justice Now and Climate Justice Action networks will march to the Bella Centre (the venue of the talks in the fringes of the city) and will be joined by people from the inside to hold a peoples assembly to ‘reclaim power. For more information on these activities and updates see www.climate-justice-now.org and www.climate-justice-action.org
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