Solidarity Statement from India

At People’s Dialogue, Cape Town on 31 March 2019

In response to BRICS-led New Development Bank’s 4th Annual General Meeting in South Africa

The BRICS led NDB (New Development Bank) is being promoted as an institution that serves as developing economies’ healthy and essential alternative to undemocratic International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Finance Corporation that are controlled by western powers. We reject such rhetoric and assert that the $100 billion NDB is designed and structured to function equally undemocratically. NDB invests in projects that do not conform with necessary environmental and social safeguards. Consequently, billions of dollars invested by NDB in critical sectors such as energy, road building and urbanization is causing extensive environmental and social impacts. We know, as a result, South Africa, a huge recipient of NDB loans, has become a site for corporate land grabs which is resulting in massive loss of livelihoods and displacement of rural and urban communities, along with rampant corruption. The prime examples of these as we understand are Eskom, Transnet and the Development Bank of Southern Africa who are among the most notorious of South Africa’s corrupt, climate-change-causing and non-consultative firms.

IFIs have systematically disrupted evolution of democratic governance forcing Governments to implement regressive policies, legislation and schemes, commodify and financialise land, essential services and food production systems, which attack environment, food security and labour. They are gaining significant access to sovereign decision-making processes. They operated with legal immunity until recently when the US Supreme Court issued a judgement in the suit filed by Indian fishing communities against IFC that IFC is not above law. This immunity had always encouraged them to finance projects without a proper appraisal of their environmental and social impacts, and due diligence of their financial and economic consequences. IFIs typically invest in massive projects in critical sectors. A slew of such highly destructive and economically disastrous mega projects in India include Industrial corridors – Bharatmala (roads and highways expansion project), Sagarmala (creating sea-routes linked to tens of new ports), bullet train, and smart cities. The massive scales of such projects have little to do with need and necessity. Very often, a network of transnational corporations are the beneficiaries of the massive contracts that ensue. We understand it’s a way of making money out of money. The result of such development is systemic human rights violations, social disruption, and environmental destruction. And, these mega projects typically end up in massive financial losses and lead to devastating economic instability in regional and national economies. Communities in farms, coastal areas and cities are uprooted in the process, accentuating impoverishment and unemployment at massive scales. People end up burdened with crippling debts merely to survive.

Further, outsourcing the formulation of critical policies of a country relating to labour, food security, defence, water, land, farming, etc., to a variety of think-tanks and foreign consultancies work to maximise corporate control over peoples’ lives and natural resources. Institutions of democracy and decision-making of a country, such as the Parliament, are kept in the dark and global financial powers are making deep forays into sovereign decision making. Moreover, the aggressive privatisation of essential services such as electricity, water, health, food supply, public transport and education, is causing a rapid escalation of the living cost of the majority population.

Communities on the frontlines of resistance to mega undemocratic and destructive projects are facing extreme forms of violence and terror and becoming victims of systemic abuse of executive power of the State. Instead of responding to popular and people’s genuine demands, when farmers, Adivasis, Dalits and workers organise to demand just action by the State, they have often been met with state repression. The present social upheaval in India and a range of arrests of dissenters, writers, cultural and social activists across India based on fabricated cases are indicative of increasing repression.

Social movements and peoples organisations representing Adivasis, Dalits, indigenous peoples, women, farmers, fisherfolk, forest workers, hawkers, artisans, unorganised workers and civil society from across India, together with solidarity groups from India resolve that undemocratic International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have no role in a democratic polity, and therefore need to be shut down. These institutions, including NDB, trample on peoples’ rights, disregard national sovereignty, tear into the very fabric of constitutionally guaranteed governance and thus undermine India’s economic and political security.

We pledge in solidarity with the peoples’ movements, communities and civil society groups of South Africa, at this occasion of People’s Dialogue at Cape Town, to resolve to tirelessly work against subordination of governments to corporate power, against exploitation of human and natural resources, against discrimination, against social, economic and environmental injustices, against corruption, loot and violence.

We will continue resisting the prevailing financial hegemony of undemocratic and unaccountable financial institutions such as the BRICS-led NDB. We resolve to push for people-centred alternatives in all sectors of the economy and to advance an inclusive model of development in which finance and infrastructure support the vulnerable and the poor communities.

We continue remaining dedicated to building a society based on democratic and secular principles that ensure freedom, equality, equity, dignity, fraternity, love and respect for all.

We continue remaining dedicated to building a society based on democratic and secular principles that ensure freedom, equality, equity, dignity, fraternity, love and respect for all, deeply respecting Mother Earth’s rights.

Signed by,

  1. Medha Patkar, Social Activist, Narmada Bachao Andolan and National Alliance of People’s Movements
  2. Ashok Choudhary, All India Union of Forest Working People
  3. Saktiman Ghosh, National Hawkers Federation
  4. Ulka Mahajan, Social Activist, Sarvahara Jan Andolan
  5. Xavier Dias, Former Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)
  6. Peter, National Fishworkers Forum
  7. Working Group on IFIs, India
  8. FAN-India – Financial Accountability Network India
  9. Rajendra Ravi, Director, Institute for Democracy and Sustainability
  10. Sreedhar Ramamurthy., Environics Trust
  11. PT George, Intercultural Resources, Delhi
  12. Gautam Bandyopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha and Peoples Alliance in Central East India
  13. Vimal Bhai, Convenor, Matu Jan Sangathan and National Convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  14. Soumya Dutta, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha
  15. Vijayan MJ, Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy
  16. Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group
  17. Anil Tharayath Varghese, Delhi Forum
  18. Usman Mangi, Machimar Adhikar Sangarsh Samiti
  19. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Independent Researcher and Feminist Activist
  20. Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  21. Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan
  22. Sanjeev Kumar, Dalit-Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch – DASAM
  23. Tani Alex, Centre for Financial Accountability
  24. Ajay Kumar Jha, Pairvi- Public Advocacy Initiatives for Rights and Values in India
  25. Priya Pillai, Social Environmental Activist
  26. Vidya Dinker, Social Activist, Karavali Karnataka Janabhivriddhi Vedike
  27. Ovais Sultan Khan, Human Rights Activist
  28. Rajkumar Sinha, Chutka Parmanu Virodhi Sagarsh Samiti
  29. Willy D’Costa, INSAF – Indian Social Action Forum
  30. Linda Chhakchhuak, Grassroots Options – Independent Journalist
  31. Krishnakant, Activist, Pariyavaran Suraksha Samiti Gujarat
  32. C. Ramachandraiah, Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad
  33. Meera Sangamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  34. Vijay Kumar, Social and Political Activist, CPI-ML Red Star Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
  35. Himanshu Damle, Public Finance Public Accountability Collective
  36. Chennaiah Poguri, General Secretary of AP VV Union India and National Agricultural Workers Forum
  37. Maglin P., Activist, Theeradesha Mahila Vedi Kerala
  38. Bharat Patel, Machimar Adhikar Sangarsh Sangathan Gujarat
  39. Awadesh Kumar, Srijan Lokhit Samiti Madhya Pradesh
  40. Ram Wangkheirakpam, Indigenous Perspectives, Manipur
  41. Rajesh Serupally, Freelance Researcher and Journalist

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