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Why NDA government needs to rethink about its action against Greenpeace

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By Gaurav Sharma

The government of India has been locked in an intense battle with the international global campaigning organization Greenpeace for quite some time now.

A back and forth game of charges and counter-charges for one-upmanship has erupted ever since Greenpeace India became vocal against a corporate culture hell bent on profit maximization and a government striving actively for rapid development to augment India’s growth rate.

Greenpeace’s India-centered activism has been extensive and comprehensive in covering a wide array of areas, particularly the tea industry and the coal sector.

Responding rather strongly to Greenpeace’s “anti-development” rhetoric, the BJP-led NDA government has frozen all its accounts and even suspended the FCRA registration of Greenpeace on charges of “anti-nationalism”.

While such notions of “anti-India” and “anti-economic progress” are based on a report by the Intelligence Bureau, but the report cannot be taken at face value. Such claims of acting against public interest have been quashed by the judiciary twice.

The IB has itself been counter charged of being “anti-national” by activists such as Aruna Rodrigues, Kavita Kuruganti and Vandana Shiva. They have termed previous IB reports on Genetically Modified (GM) crops as “hypocritical”.

Amnesty International India has also dismissed the abrasive seizure of funds and revocation of license as violating the constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association.

Meanwhile,Greenpeace has been hurling out slogans of vehement and indiscriminate development against the government. It has even gone to the extent of accusing the government of engaging in crony capitalism.

Amidst all the muddle, Greenpeace itself cannot be looked upon as a holy cow. Its claim of receiving close to 70 per cent funding from ordinary Indians cannot be corroborated convincingly.

Greenpeace has its fair share of critics and detractors. In the past, it has been accused of being “anti-technology” for its staunch opposition to research on nuclear fusion.

Greenlanders have vented their ire against Greenpeace for stalling sealskin trade, in which generations of Greenlanders were engaged.

More recently, Greenpeace came under fire for staging a publicity stunt within the Nazca lines, a UN World Heritage site in Peru. It reportedly damaged both the line and the area surrounding it.

Such incidents cast a dubious shadow on the reputation of the organization. By corollary, claims of involvement of the United Kingdom in Greenpeace India operations by the Indian government cannot be dismissed entirely.

However, by arbitrarily preventing Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai from boarding an aircraft, India has managed to showcase its inflexibility in accommodating varied viewpoints.

With the Delhi High Court rubbishing the government’s act as illogical and an infringement on the individual’s right to travel, the current political dispensation has been denuded and typecast as being rather radical.

At a time when Prime Minister Modi is busy making visits to other countries to attract investments, India can ill-afford to hurt its image as a free-flowing democratic country. It will be highly absurd to expect foreign investors to invest in a country labeled as illiberal by the international media.

Should then Greenpeace be subject to such a stringent crackdown because it professes and expounds a sustainable development philosophy?

Mature democracies have space for an eclectic mix of ideas, multifarious modes of working and dissent within the ambit of certain rules and regulations.

Are we such a democracy?

By straight-jacketing the activities of International NGO’s under the pretext of “anti-India” pursuits, India is distorting its image as a free-market economy.

Such overt blackmailing only serves to impede the Indian growth story for which PM Modi was handed down such a massive mandate.

 

Next Story

The Rafale Deal: Corporate Rivalry Impacting National Interest

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie's dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on 'India's strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal'.Pixabay

A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.

The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.

That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.

During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’. Pixabay

In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.

However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.

Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.

The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.

Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.

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Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Pixabay

The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

Also Read: The Craft of Distilling Is Ancient, Different Story Behind Every Bottle

The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.

Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  (IANS)