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Fighting terrorism of all brands
By Vandana Shiva
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the Bank wanted food subsidies to be withdrawn.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.
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." 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.