Worldwide hunger for resources drives transnational corporations to access iron ore, aluminium and uran deposits in the Indian states of Chattisgarh and Orissa. Numerous indigenous tribes (Advasi) live there. They resist the destruction of their livelihood. As a result of that they are drawn into a civil war between government forces, who secure access to resources, and Maoists.
David Goeßmann: In the eastern Indian states of Chattisgarh and Orissa, there is an ongoing civil war between Maoists and the Government. What are the backgrounds? Who is fighting whom for which reasons?
Vandana Shiva: If you look at the map of India the central part of India the forest belt is the tribal belt. That's were the forest dwellers live. It happens to also be the richest mineral belt. And with the globalised economy all mining for Bauxit and iron ore coal, all pulluting industries, has been pushed to these regions, to states like Chhattisgarh and Orissa. In 1996 we got a very very important law inacted in India. In short it is called the self rule of tribal communities. Which basically said that if tribal communities have to make decision the highest competent authority is their community itself. Whether the line has been taken for a mine or a factory. And in the area which is now Chhattisgarh the tribals would call people like me who they see as witnesses for the earth and for their rights to witness their decision making. And I remember in villages they would sing and dance and sit and discuss in consensus: "Do we want this German steel plant?" I remember a village where a German steel plant had to be set up. And the villagers thought about it for three days and said: "Well, they are coming here, they give us money. We will be destitute, we won't have our culture, we won't have our forests. No, we'd rather continue to live in our forests and our home. We won't give our land to the steel plant. Happened to a second steel plant, happened to third steel plant. And then industry organised to get the government to arrest the tribals who were exercising their constitutional democratic rights to have a say what happens to their land and forests. Then the shooting and killings started. That allowed the Maoists who have been around. There are Maoists in every country. There is extreme left everywhere. There are many people who believe that violence is the most effective way to get justice in an unjust system. When the shooting started the Maoist support started to grow. Because the Maoist said: "your peaceful protests is being ignored, you've been shot anyway. You might as well arm yourself." That is what has lead to one third of India going into Maoist control. Today the Maoists and the tribals have a very very close relationship cause the state has joined with global corporate capital to disposses the tribals of their resources and their land, their rights. And that is why there is a civil war in Chhattisgarh. There is civil war in large parts of Orissa. And that's why colleagues like Dr. Binayak Sen, a very preiminent doctor, some one I worked with to save seeds in that area of Chhattisgarth which is the home of rice. We used to have two hundred thousand rice varieties. They have got thrown into jail as if they are part of the Maoist rebellion. And the Supreme Court just recently gave bill to Dr. Binayak Sen, saying carrying leftist literature doesn't make you a Maoist just as much as carrying Ghandis biography doesn't make you a Ghandian. Dr. Binayak Sen is on bail but the cases are still against him. Hundreds of thousands of people are in jail right now. And the government created private militias calles "Salva Judum" which kills brothers and sisters in order to clear the way for the investors, the miners, the industrialists. That is the war. War is between local people, their rights and the constitution of India and a corporate state and the corporations who for the growth model want to mine the last bit of minerals for a 20 to 30 year experiment of destruction.
Fabian Scheidler: Almost all governments today say that growth is the only solution. All parties also in Germany do that to a more or less degree. How do you think a transition is possible? Who is the actor if governments are not the actors?
Vandana Shiva: I think in the final analysis it's public opinion that drives any political context. Look at the Arab world. Who would have had imagined a rebellion in Mubaraks Egypt. He was such a strong man. And things started to change. Not necessarily all peaceful right now as we are seeing. With new conflicts across religious identities. But once people change their minds change happens. But even governments are having a rethink. After all Sarkozy set up a commission with Joseph Stiglitz's:" Is growth serving human welfare?" And three noble laureats came to the conclusion there is no correlation between human welfare and growth. I advise the government of Bhutan. The prime minister invited me to help Bhutan go 100 percent organic. This is a government that decided years ago that gross domestic product does not measure anything meaningful. They care for their people. And they want to measure gross national happiness. And when they ask us as Navdania to help them go organic they talk about growing happiness. One of the things we are going to do besides helping them to go organic is actually start measuring happiness per acre. And I do believe if we start disaggregating wealth in terms of where does it end: Are our ecosystems healthier? Then you have more natural health. Are your people healthier and wealthier? Then you have more social wealth. Are your corporations more healthier and wealthier? In which case you have large amounts of corporate profits and wealth. It's no more justified to talk about growth as an anonyminous indicator. We need to disaggregate it. We need to show money flows that actually cause destruction of the kind that is happening in India today around land grab. 300 rupees to 600.000 rupees: that is a false growth! It is war. War should not be counted as contributing to human welfare. It's also time to see how this growth that is accumulating welled in the handful of people across the world is creating more Mubaraks. And new Mubaraks will go the way of the old Mubaraks eventually the people will have a say.
David Goeßmann: Thank you, Vandana Shiva. This was Kontext TV. For more information, please go to our website
Fabian Scheidler: Thanks for staying with us, please join us again, Fabian Scheidler
David Goeßmann: ... and David Goeßmann.