Wednesday, January 30, 2008

हमारी अग्यानता की जड़ें गहरी व मज़बूत हैं ?

- अगर हमारी अग्यानता की जड़ें गहरी व मज़बूत हैं ? -
- तो क्या आगे का पथ सरल व आसान हो सकता है ?
- शुरुआत कहाँ से की जाय ?

१ - किसके लिए ? -
२ - मसीहा या पथ ? -
३ - लक्षण क्या अौर कैसे ? -
४ - आधुनिक, सरल व साधनों के अनुरूप ? -
५ - ग्यान की कमी, साधनों की कमी, या विश्वास की कमी ? -

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Plotting FDI Entry Strategies in Food Retail

The India FDI Watch Campaign seeks to prevent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector in India. India FDI Watch is a national coalition of labour unions, trade associations, environmentalists, NGOs and academics that have formed to block attempts to allow foreign direct investment in India’s retail markets. FDI in retail will amount to job losses in the thousands as well as thousands more small businesses and kiranas being forced to close. It will continue the race to the bottom in wages and working conditions that Wal-Mart and other multinational mega-retailers have spread across the globe. Multinationals look at India, with its 1.2 billion people, as a vast, untapped market, but we do not want to become the next country to have our cultural traditions, worker's rights, environment, and independence destroyed by Wal-Mart. Contact us for more information.

IndiaFDI Watch -

For more information: download the India FDI Watch Brochure.

For more information, download the India FDI Watch Brochure (in Hindi).

Thousands protested to oppose the Bharti-Walmart Joint Venture

On the heels of the announcement of the Bharti-Walmart joint venture, thousands of traders, hawkers, farmers and workers protested across India. Protesters also included a group of American students who demanded that Wal-Mart not be allowed into India. Mass-based organizations called on the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi to immediately stop the Bharti-Walmart Joint Venture and not allow Wal-Mart’s backdoor entry into India. There was also a strong united call on all corporations—both foreign and domestic—to "Quit Retail". The protests were timed to commemorate the start of the "Quit India" movement, which started on August 9, 1942, with mass-based sections of society drawing parallels to the East India Company and companies like Wal-Mart, Bharti and Reliance.

Agitations took place in the metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata along with other major cities including, Kalicut, Bhopal, Jaipur, Ranchi, Balia, Meerath, Sonipat, Nagpur, Nasik, Pune and Indore.

In Delhi, thousands of traders, hawkers, farmers and workers protested in Chandni Chowk, a historical market, and burned effigies of Wal-Mart, Bharti and Reliance. Dharmendra Kumar, Director of India FDI Watch and national coordinator of the Vyapaar Aur Rozgaar Bachao Andolan conducted the proceedings and told the agitators, "Both Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have acknowledged the dangers of corporations entering into the retail sector. The Govt. has commissioned a report looking at the impact of the entire supply chain on livelihoods after Sonia Gandhi had written a letter of caution. Sonia Gandhi had also publicly refused to meet with Michael Duke, Wal-Mart Vice-Chairman during his visit in February after public demonstrations were held due to his arrival. However, both Sonia Gandhi and the PMO have remained silent on the Bharti-Wal-Mart deal and though they have publicly cautioned against corporations and commissioned a study, they have taken no subsequent actions. He demanded that the Wal-Mart Bharti joint venture should be immediately revoked and all corporations should be stopped until thorough study has been conducted by an independent special task force comprising of stakeholders."

Shyam Bihari Mishra, President, Bhartiya Udyog Vyapar Mandal refered back to the British Raj, stating, "The East India Company, the most powerful company at the time, came to colonize India’s people and domestic and international trade and now Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company is trying to enter India to do the same. Mr. Mishra said India has a history of resistance, our people threw out the British and sixty years later if millions have their businesses and livelihoods threatened we will do the same now. He announced that family members of traders would boycott corporate stores." Praveen Khandelwal, General Secretary, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said "The livelihoods of retail traders are at stake. If big retail giants like Wal-Mart and Reliance come into the country, small traders would be finished." A mass campaign would be launched to strike back and make corporations realise that we will not let them ruin our livelihoods, he said.

Vandana Shiva, Director, Navdanya said "India is a land of retail democracy- hundreds of thousands of weekly haats and bazaars are located across the length and breadth of our country by people’s own self-organizational capacities. In a country with large numbers of people, and high levels of poverty, the existing model of retail democracy is the most appropriate in terms of economic viability and ecological sustainability.".

Shaktiman Ghosh, General Secretary, National Hawkers Federation warned the government "about taking such strong stances against India’s millions of hawkers and small shopkeepers in favor of only a few huge corporations who seek to dominate the Indian retail market."

Mr. Indu Prakash of Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform revealed the nexus between judiciary and corporate retail which led to the ceiling of shops of more than one hundred thousands of traders of Delhi and still goes on.

Mr. Bhati of Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, Delhi, Harbhajan Singh Siddhu, National Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Sunil Kansal, Secretary, Rashtriya Vyapar Mandal, Hakim Singh Rawat, General Secretary, Delhi Hawkers Welfare Association, Banwari Lal Sharma, President, Aazadi Bachaon Aandolan, R K Sharma, Secreatry, UTUC-Lenin Sarani and Venkatesh of Lok Raj Sangathan also addressed the protesters in Delhi.

In Mumbai, thousands of retailers, hawkers, workers and cooperatives participated in a one day trade bandh and a mass public event organized by the Vyapaar Rozgaar Suraksha Kriti Samiti, a joint action committee of trade associations, hawkers groups, trade unions and others. Leaders of Federation of Associations of Maharastra (FAM), Retail and Dispensing Chemists Association (RDCA), India FDI Watch, Mumbai Mahanagar Vyapari Seva Parishad (MMVSP), Mumbai Vyapar Mahasang (MVM), Apna Bazaar, National Hawkers Federation, Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat (HMKP) addressed the protesters. Mohan Gurnani, Convener of the Mumbai based Vyapaar Rozgaar Suraksha Kriti Samiti and President of the Federation of Associations of Maharastra (FAM) said "organised retaling would leave 20 crore people without jobs. Let the government first come out with a rehabilitation for these people and then it can open up FDI in retail". Kishore Shah, President of the Mobile & Telecom Retailers and Distributors Association (MTRDA), stated that around 12,000 retail shop-keepers deal in SIM cards and recharge vouchers of Air-Tel in Mumbai, generating business worth crores of rupees every day. Mr. Shah said "We have already informed all our members, distributors and wholesalers against selling any Airtel products". The Mumbai APMC—wholesale— market remained closed, along with thousands of retail shops across the city, including all chemists and druggists shops. Apna Bazaar, Maharastra’s largest cooperative store also downed its shutters and wholesale markets remained closed in Nasik and Pune.
At an evening event at Shanmukananda Hall in Mumbai mass-based groups laid out a future course of action and adopted a charter of demands. They called on the Center to immediately repeal the Wholesale Cash-n-Carry Permission, and all licenses granted under the permission; repeal the APMC Model Act, implement the National Policy on Street Vendors, take measures against predatory pricing and formulate a national policy on retail trade and small scale industries.

In Bangalore thousands protested at the town hall and burned effigies of corporate retailers like Wal-Mart and Reliance. The protest culminated in leaders presenting the Governor with a memorandum calling on the state to repeal the recent passage of the APMC Model Act. A Charter of Demands, same as was passed in Mumbai, was also placed before the District Collector. Smaller protests were organized throughout the state in different districts including Kodagu, Bijapur, Gulbarga and Davangere districts.

In Jaipur fifty American students joined with hawkers demanding that Wal-Mart leave India and demanding implementation of the National Policy on Street Vendors. The American students and hawkers demonstrated in the old city and held signs saying "Americans Oppose Wal-Mart Everywhere". Ms. Cheryl, an American citizen, learning Hindi at Jaipur said that Wal-Mart has a disastrous impact on small shopkeepers and neighbourhood communities in America and called Indians to learn from their experience and not to allow Wal-Mart to operate in India. Ms. Cheryl said that the world is moving from ‘Corporate to Cooperative’ and Indians should not corporatize their cooperatives.

In Kerala the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Egono Samiti organized protest marches in over 1000 places across the state. In Kalicut over 10,000 traders protested in front of the corporation’s office and submitted a memorandum demanding that corporations keep out of retail and the immediate halt to Wal-Mart’s backdoor entry and the repeal of the Wholesale Cash-N-Carry permission.

In Kolkata the Federation of Trade Organizations (FTO) of West Bengal organized protests in all the 12 districts of the city along with protests across West Bengal, including in front of malls. Tens of thousands traders participated in the protest. In the evening, thousands of hawkers took out a protest march from the city museum.

In Ranchi, Uday Shankar Ojha who led the vegetable vendors before Reliance Fresh in May and has only recently been released from Jail, led thousands of hawkers and vegetable vendors at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi, demanding that Reliance Fresh and all other corporations leave the retail sector and "withdraw their sinister plans to displace millions of livelihoods".

In Bhopal there was a state-level protest meeting in the morning at Gandhi Bhavan and traders sat on a dharna at Roshanara Chowk in the afternoon and burn effigies of Wal-Mart, Bharti and Reliance. A call for Bhopal Bandh was given for 21 August to oust corporate from retail trade.

Similar protests were organized in other cities including Allahabad, Lucknow, Meerut, Bagpat and Sonipat.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

American Political Pressure, Indian Consumers

American GM Pressure

Why are Americans insisting on feeding reluctant Indian consumers with unlabelled GM food ?

Regulation and Standards, not Double Standards, please - Bhaskar Goswami
India should take US-backed WTO attempts to thrust GM foods on us with a pinch of salt.

If things do not work your way, seek influence of a heavy weight. This is exactly what the United States is trying to do. With India not accepting genetically modified (GM) foods, the US is trying to rope in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to exert pressure. Knowing that India has not violated any WTO norms, the US is still trying to use theGeneva route to open the Indian market to GM foods. It is opposingIndia’s efforts to set standards for labeling GM products. Terming it as trade restrictive, it has threatened to invoke the WTO provisions on creating technical barriers to trade, and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures.

Either way, India is refusing to blindly toe the American line. The government has taken two significant measures to regulate GM products. First, the ministry of commerce has issued a notification, which prohibits the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for food, feed or processing, industrial processing, research and development for commercialisation or environmental release without the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).

Second, the health ministry has amended the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, and issued a similar notification which covers import, manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of GM food. Both these new rules have also made labeling of GM products compulsory.

Human safety from eating GM foods has been a matter of great concern. After GM soya was introduced in the UK, for instance, cases of allergies went up. A 2005 study found that GM pea, which is under development, caused severe immune responses in mice.

Another study reported that GM maize-fed rats developed major lesions in kidneys and livers. Likewise, a number of other scientific studies have pointed out the harmful effects of GM food.

Notwithstanding GM industry claims to the contrary, the fact remains that many aspects of this technology still remain uncertain and several products are being released into the market without adequate tests and trials. In agriculture, for example, GM and non-GM crops cannot grow in isolation and can easily combine through pollination, mixing of seeds etc. Experiments to study the impact of such contamination on the environment and food have simply not been done. It is, therefore, to prevent illegal imports, and also to enable consumers to make a conscious choice that labeling norms are essential.

Since the US does not segregate GM products from non-GM ones, almost all processed food products contain traces of GMOs. This is also the main reason why they persistently oppose labeling. Ironically, while goods imported into the US have to meet the most stringent specification, whenever any US exporter is directed to follow the same procedures by the importing country, it is termed as a trade barrier. When similar tactics failed with India, the US turned to the WTO, which has legal instruments, to help it out.

Using multilateral bodies to prevent GM labeling is not new. The US has consistently blocked international legislation on labeling at various forums like the United Nations’ Food Standards Committee and Codex Committee on Food Labeling. However, this time it has challenged the sovereign right of India to decide about its food and its safety, something which is not only against democratic principles but also runs contrary to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. As it is, under pressure from edible oil importers in India, the commerce ministry has exempted the import of GM soybean oil from labeling requirement till March 2007.

Even the amended PFA of the health ministry is quite lax. Instead of rigorous biosafety tests before allowing the import, the ministry is merely relying on the safety information provided by the importer.

Further, the amendment is coming at a time when there is no laboratory in the country, which can test products for GM presence. Instead of protecting the health interests of the citizens by prohibiting production or import of GM food, the amendment in its present form intends to legalise its trade. Now, through the WTO, the US wants India to lift all curbs on the import of GM products into the country.

Incidentally, major trading partners of the US, such as Canada, Japan, South Korea, European Union and Australia follow their own GM labeling protocols but the US has never brought such complaints against these countries. It is obvious that the notifications are not only discriminatory but meant to browbeat India into submission.

While the extreme reaction of the US is not surprising, the government should resist the attempt of US to dump GM food into India and concerned citizens should insist on strengthening the PFA in the interest of the consumer.

The writer is with the Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security, New Delhi

Buniyad Youth Political Networking Group -

Indian Food Policy Group -

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Organic Bees Coping with CCD Better

Organic Bees Surviving Colony Collapse Disorder Better - Craig Mackintosh

I know this won’t come as a surprise to many of our readers, nor to the many organic beekeepers that have been commenting on our posts, but there have been several reports of organic bee colonies surviving where the ‘industrial’ bee colonies are collapsing. Here is the latest to come to my attention :

Pollination, as practised for 1000s of years?
Sharon Labchuk is a longtime environmental activist and part-time organic beekeeper from Prince Edward Island…. In a widely circulated email, she wrote:

I’m on an organic beekeeping list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list. The problem with the big commercial guys is that they put pesticides in their hives to fumigate for varroa mites, and they feed antibiotics to the bees. They also haul the hives by truck all over the place to make more money with pollination services, which stresses the colonies.

Her email recommends a visit to the Bush Bees Web site, where Michael Bush felt compelled to put a message to the beekeeping world right on the top page:

Most of us beekeepers are fighting with the Varroa mites. I’m happy to say my biggest problems are things like trying to get nucs through the winter and coming up with hives that won’t hurt my back from lifting or better ways to feed the bees.

This change from fighting the mites is mostly because I’ve gone to natural sized cells. In case you weren’t aware, and I wasn’t for a long time, the foundation in common usage results in much larger bees than what you would find in a natural hive. I’ve measured sections of natural worker brood comb that are 4.6mm in diameter. What most people use for worker brood is foundation that is 5.4mm in diameter. If you translate that into three dimensions instead of one, it produces a bee that is about half as large again as is natural.
By letting the bees build natural sized cells, I have virtually eliminated my Varroa and Tracheal mite problems. One cause of this is shorter capping times by one day, and shorter post-capping times by one day. This means less Varroa get into the cells, and less Varroa reproduce in the cells.

Who should be surprised that the major media reports forget to tell us that the dying bees are actually hyper-bred varieties that we coax into a larger than normal body size? It sounds just like the beef industry. And, have we here a solution to the vanishing bee problem? Is it one that the CCD Working Group, or indeed, the scientific world at large, will support? Will media coverage affect government action in dealing with this issue?

These are important questions to ask. It is not an uncommonly held opinion that, although this new pattern of bee colony collapse seems to have struck from out of the blue (which suggests a triggering agent), it is likely that some biological limit in the bees has been crossed. There is no shortage of evidence that we have been fast approaching this limit for some time.

We’ve been pushing them too hard, Dr. Peter Kevan, an associate professor of environmental biology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, told the CBC. And we’re starving them out by feeding them artificially and moving them great distances. Given the stress commercial bees are under, Kevan suggests CCD might be caused by parasitic mites, or long cold winters, or long wet springs, or pesticides, or genetically modified crops. Maybe it’s all of the above… - InformationLiberation

That’s funny - that’s just what I said…

Let’s hear it for the natural/organic beekeepers out there! I hope this CCD incident will reinforce that natural systems respond far better to imitation and cooperation than reductionist arbitrary control. Work within the system, observe and learn. There’s a lot more to nature than meets the eye, or the microscope.

Friday, May 4, 2007

AgriEmpire - IIM Lucknow Conference

IIM Lucknow is organizing a conference on agri business, food industry in association with Tennessee State University and South Carolina State University. It is titled International Conference on “Agribusiness and Food Industry in Developing Countries: Opportunities and Challenges” to be held August 10-12, 2007, at Indian Institute of Management campus in Lucknow.