http://www.hinduonnet.com/stories/05221349.htm THE HINDU, Saturday September 22, 2001
September 18 was the day for solidarity with victims of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11. I joined the millions of people to observe two minutes silence at 10:30 a.m. for those who lost their lives in the assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But I also thought of the millions who are victims of other terrorist actions and other forms of violence. And I renewed my commitment to resist violence in all its forms.
At 10:30 a.m. on September 18, I was with Laxmi, Raibari and Suranam in Jhodia Sahi village in Kashipur district of Orissa. Laxmi's husband Ghabi Jhodia was among the 20 tribals who recently died of starvation. In the same village, Subarna Jhodia had also died. Later, we met Singari in Bilamal village who had lost her husband Sadha, elder son Surat, younger son Paila and daughter-in-law Sulami.
The deliberate denial of food to the hungry is at the core of the World Bank Structural Adjustment programmes. Dismantling the Public Distribution System (PDS) was a World Bank conditionality. It was justified on grounds of reducing expenditure. But the food subsidy budget has exploded from Rs. 2,800 crores in 1991 to Rs. 14,000 crores in 2001. More money is being spent to store grain because the Bank wanted food subsidies to be withdrawn. This led to increase in food prices, lowering of purchase from PDS and build up of stocks. The food security of the nation is collapsing.
Starvation deaths in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Orissa are symptoms of the breakdown of our food systems. Kashipur was gifted with abundance of nature. Starvation is the result of waves of violence against nature and the tribal communities, of ecological plunder of the resources of the region, the dismantling of the food security system under economic reform policies and the impact of climate change which caused crop failures.
Twenty years ago, the pulp and paper industry raped the forests of Kashipur. Today, the herbs stand naked and the paper mills are bringing eucalyptus from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Now the giant mining companies - Hydro of Norway, Alcan of Canada, Indico, Balco/Sterlite of India have unleashed a new wave of terror. They are eyeing the bauxite in the majestic hills of Kashipur as it is used for aluminium that will go to make Coca Cola cans and fighter planes.
Imagine each mountain to be a World Trade Center built by nature over millennia. Think of how many tragedies bigger than what the world experienced on September 11 are taking place to provide raw material for insatiable industry and markets. The Aluminium companies want the homelands of the Kashipur tribals. But the tribals refuse to leave. They are defending the land and earth through a non-violent movement. This forced apportioning of resources from people too is a form of terrorism - corporate terrorism.
The 50 million tribals who have been flooded out of their homes by dams over the past four decades are also victims of terrorism - they have faced the terror of technology and destructive development. For the 30,000 people who died in the Orissa supercyclone, and the millions who will die when flood and drought and cyclones become more severe because of climate change and fossil fuel pollution, the U.S. President, Mr. George W. Bush, is an ecological terrorist because he refuses to sign the Kyoto protocol.
The WTO was named the World Terrorist Organisation by citizens in Seattle because its rules denied millions the right to life and livelihood. Terrorism can only be stopped by cultures of peace, democracy, and people's security. It is wrong to define the post-September 11 world as a war between ``civilisation and barbarism'' or ``democracy and terrorism.'' It is a war between two forms of terrorism which are mirror images of each other's mindsets. They share the dominant culture of violence. They use the same weapons and the same technologies. In terms of the preference for violence and use of terror, both sides are clones of each other. And their victims are innocent people everywhere.
As we remember the victims of Black Tuesday, let us also strengthen our solidarity with the millions of invisible victims of other forms of terrorism and violence which are threatening the very possibility of our future on this planet. We can turn this tragic brutal historical moment into building cultures of peace.
The writer is Director, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, New Delhi