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