The IB (Intelligence Bureau) is India's top intelligence agency for internal security. Many will be surprised to learn that the IB has spent time and public money authoring a report that accuses citizens' groups, NGOs, and individuals of threatening the national economic security of India.
Their crime, according to the IB, is to oppose socially and environmentally destructive "development projects", including the introduction of GMOs.
The IB report also alleges that citizens opposing development projects are agents of western powers.
The irony is, of course, that the multinational companies pushing GMOs and other destructive technologies into India are the ultimate "foreign hand" that are threatening the country's sovereignty and freedom.
The IB report was produced under India's previous government headed by Manmohan Singh as prime minister and is believed to have been initiated about 2 years ago. It was suddenly leaked to the press a few days ago, just weeks after the new government was sworn in.
The report has angered citizens' groups and campaigners in India. Two responses are below.
EXCERPTS (item 1): Indian Cotton in Foreign Hands, Indian farmers’ hard earned money expatriated to foreign lands: India’s Bt cotton is an outstanding example... It was introduced into India’s hybrids, not varieties so our farmers would be forced to buy seeds each year. This "VALUE CAPTURE" for Monsanto which was contrived and approved by our own government mortgaging the public interest has ensured that in a short 10 years, 95% of cotton seeds in the form of Bt cotton are owned by Monsanto. The damage to India’s organic cotton market and status is significant.
(item 2): It is dark irony that those who repatriate profits earned in India by looting and plundering the nation’s wealth are feted as "patriots" and those citizens who assert India’s and Indians’ rights over our vast common resources and protest against destructive development are dubbed "anti-national-economic interest". Its a short distance from such typecasting to being arrested as "anti-national" and seditious.
1. India’s sovereignty, security and freedom at risk - Vandana Shiva, Aruna Rodrigues, and Kavitha Kuruganti
2. People's Union for Civil Liberties condemns IB report
1. India’s sovereignty, security and freedom at risk
Vandana Shiva, Navdanya; Aruna Rodrigues; and Kavitha Kuruganti
17 June 2014
* Is the IB being used by foreign corporations to take over India’s vital seed sector?
The IB report has a special section on GMOs (genetically modified/engineered organisms). It clearly supports the introduction of GM crops into Indian agriculture.
The IB report makes specific mention of the Supreme Court cases which have been filed. It curiously also accuses civil society organisations and individuals of influencing 3 Committees that were officially mandated to assess GMOs. The IB report objects to these formal government reports, the Moratorium Orders of Shri Jairam Ramesh, the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report and the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee Report (TEC) because they find that on current evidence, GM crops have little to contribute to Indian agriculture, safe food and food security. These findings did not accord with the view of the PMO, when headed by the erstwhile Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. This report was initiated under the UPA Government.
IB objects to protection of Indian seed and food sovereignty?
In 1998, when Monsanto introduced Bt cotton illegally, without the statutory approvals from the GEAC, we had to file a case in the SC to defend the laws of the land, our Constitution, our Seed Sovereignty, and Food Sovereignty. When open field trials were being conducted without appropriate and independent Biosafety assessments, and expertise in these matters, the current cases in the Supreme Court were initiated in 2003 and 2005 to uphold the law: protect the environment and safety of our seeds and food from irreversible genetic contamination, protect smallholder farming in India, and the health safety of 1 billion citizens. The country faces a major threat from the multinational Seed/chemical industry, seeking control over our seeds, our agriculture and our food. This is the corporate focus. This is their AGENDA. Thousands of organizations and many multiples of thousands of individuals are committed to resisting this unacceptable corporate goal for India.
IB favors the foreign hand in the "making of India’s Bt brinjal"
The IB report quotes a Dr Ronald Herring of Cornell University who promotes GMOs and the monopoly of Monsanto. It is ironic that the IB report relies on the evidence of Dr Herring with his antecedents in Cornell University, a hub of blind GMO promotion. It is the direct foreign hand along with USAID and Monsanto funding, behind the "making of India’s Bt brinjal". Here is a real foreign hand that informs the IB report. Has the IB report been written then with foreign influence, for the benefit and profits of foreign corporations? The strategy of the global GMO seed industry with their patents & IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) is to bend regulation and influence governments and regulators to approve GMOs, by-passing scientific, transparent, and independent safety testing.
Outrageous insult to our Parliamentarians and Contempt of Court by the IB
The PSC recommended a high-level enquiry into how Bt brinjal was approved by the Regulators for commercial release. The self-assessed safety-dossier by Mahyco-Monsanto was a cover-up as evidenced in independent assessments of the raw data by several leading international scientists. It staggers belief that the IB find it possible to hand out an outrageous insult to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, by suggesting that they have in effect been led "by the nose" by activists and civil society groups and have no competence to address their official mandate on the subject. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the IB report has been influenced by those who have most to gain by undermining our seed and food sovereignty ie. the foreign corporations.
The IB report has also attacked the government decision made under our Biosafety laws to impose a moratorium on Bt Brinjal. It is thus attacking our Biosafety. This will only suit foreign interests.
The IB is guilty of contempt of court since it attacks the Technical Expert Committee set up by the Supreme Court to look into the issues of GMOs and Biosafety. The case is still being heard.
The IB fails to refer to the important other official report, the "Sopory Committee Report". This report of 2012 commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture itself is a stinging commentary on what is wrong with GMO regulation in India. Our regulatory institutions and the MoA have been indicted in this report for lies, fraud and lacking GMO expertise. And the truth with regard to massive contamination was revealed in this report.
NGOs saving Indian seed and food sovereignty
The biggest foreign hand by STEALTH and official COVER-UP will be in GMOs/GM crops if introduced into Indian agriculture. All that stands between a corporate takeover of our seeds and agriculture is the committed and exemplary work by the not-for-profit sector that helped create an informed debate on GMOs and has postponed, even stopped government action from introducing them for over 15 years. In conspiring with deeply conflicted institutions of regulation, governance and agriculture, of which there is incontrovertible proof, to introduce GM crops into India, the IB will in fact aid the hand-over of the ownership of our seeds and foods to Multi-National Corporations. This will represent the largest take-over of any nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands and this time it will be no bogey foreign hand. This will be for real. China is on record as saying that she will not allow her armed forces to eat any GM food. This not-to-be-imagined future will plunge India into the biggest breach of internal security; of a biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover. The fallout of this mere 20 year-old laboratory technology is, that it is irreversible. This is what must give us sober "food for thought" uncontaminated by GMOs, something the IB seems to be supremely oblivious of. GM crops have already demonstrated no yield gain, no ability to engineer for traits of drought, saline resistance etc and have some serious bio-safety issues which no regulator wishes to examine.
Indian Cotton in Foreign Hands, Indian farmers’ hard earned money expatriated to foreign lands
India’s Bt cotton is an outstanding example of the above scenario. It was introduced into India’s hybrids, not varieties so our farmers would be forced to buy seeds each year. This "VALUE CAPTURE" for Monsanto which was contrived and approved by our own government mortgaging the public interest has ensured that in a short 10 years, 95% of cotton seeds in the form of Bt cotton are owned by Monsanto. The damage to India’s organic cotton market and status is significant. India is the largest organic cotton producer/exporter in the world. It is Monsanto now that decides where cotton should be planted and when by our farmers, a role that the MoA has absconded or been eliminated from. The Royalties accruing to Monsanto that have been expatriated are approximately Rs 4800 Crores in 12 years, (excluding other profit mark-ups). What would this figure be if GMOs and propriety seeds flooded our farms without Biosafety assessment and regulation? This is the arithmetic the IB should have done, instead of throwing an arbitrary figure of 2-3% loss of growth. The IB is thus conspiring with global corporate interests to hemorrhage India’s agricultural economy. More than 284000 Indian farmers have been pushed to suicide because of a debt trap, lack of government investment in smallholder farming and dependence on non-renewable, propriety seeds and chemicals sold by the corporations. We call for an investigation on the foreign influence in writing the GMO section in the IB report.
If India's intelligence agencies become instruments of global corporations working against the public interest and national interest of India, our national security is under threat.
This IB report is deeply anti-national and subversive of constitutional rights of citizens in our country. It does India no credit.
2. PUCL condemns IB report
Demand to Central Government: Do not criminalise dissent
People's Union for Civil Liberties, 13 June 2014
People's Union for Civil Liberties condemns the attempt, in the guise of an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report submitted to the Prime Minister of India, to intimidate, slander, throttle and terrorise the voice of various citizens' groups, NGOs and individuals, who raise people's issues relating to the violations of their fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution, concerns over violations of rights relating to their life, livelihood and well being and the life - threatening impact of "destructive development" programmes adopted all across India. The groups – individuals, citizens groups, funded NGOs, and non-funded mass movements - questioning the displacement of large populations and destruction of environment by mega projects and risk to human life and survival posed by nuclear reactors, mining of radio active minerals like uranium, the indiscriminate use of dirty sources of energy like coal and other hydro carbons and GMO have been tarred in the so called intelligence report as being a threat the "national economic security" of India.
The dark irony and convoluted logic underlying the aforesaid IB report is that the Government wants citizens to blindly place trust and belief in the development paradigm advocated, particularly corporate led industrial expansionism, rapid urbanisation and rampant consumerism; this is notwithstanding the reality that the poor, excluded and marginalised sections are already facing immense hardships, exploitation and threat to their lives and well being because of the same policies. In actuality, the economic growth process has already resulted in increasing economic vulnerability, social marginalisation, and insecurity of the common citizen threatened by the loss of their lives and livelihood, displacement from their habitats, their resultant pauperisation, and the destruction of their environment.
The IB report also alleges that citizens opposing development projects are agents of western powers. This is based on a cruel and perverse logic! A government which is inviting foreign corporate investment from rich western countries wants Indian citizens to ignore the fact that these same corporate powers, supported by their countries, are seeking to climb out their own crippling, economic stagnation by investing through their corporate capital in all kinds of mega projects in India irrespective of their harmful consequences to Indians. The IB, and by extension the Government of India, is not just agreeable but supportive of looting and plundering of the nation’s wealth in common resources, but is ready and willing to use the might of state power to repress and suppress people’s voices when they oppose such destructive development projects.
It is dark irony that those who repatriate profits earned in India by looting and plundering the nation’s wealth are feted as "patriots" and those citizens who assert India’s and Indians’ rights over our vast common resources and protest against destructive development are dubbed "anti-national-economic interest". Its a short distance from such typecasting to being arrested as 'anti-national" and seditious.
Environmental degradation is a real concern and the poor of this country bear the brunt of its ill effects – rising temperatures, poor rains, lack of safe drinking water and exposure to pollution resulting in not only chronic illnesses among the living but also affecting the unborn. All that NGOs are doing is reminding the government of its commitments under the Rio Convention, Agenda 21 and other UN Declarations. The organizations and the individuals who oppose indiscriminate plundering and destruction of natural resources are only fulfilling their fundamental duties under Article 51 A of the constitution which mandates that “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures”.
The bogey of “foreign funding” is raised more to smear individual and groups challenging unfair, unjust inequitable and unsustainable state and corporate projects. The IB and the PMO know that all NGOs who receive funds from foreign sources are subjected to the strict provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 where clearances are given by the Home Department and subjected to periodic stringent audits by the central government agencies.
It is neither PUCL’s nor anybody's case that the NGOs receiving foreign or for that matter, even domestic funding, should not be transparent and accountable for the funds they receive and subject to the laws of the land. Any, and all, organisations are duty bound to be held accountable under the law if they violate laws and regulations governing their funding. Instead of initiating prosecutions against organisations found to be breaking the law, hurling the kind of scurrilous insinuation resorted to by the government as made in the leaked intelligence report, is nothing but an attempt to throttle dissent from the dominant discourse on development. Much more sinister is the aim to silence people from their fundamental right to express dissent through words, non violent action, mobilisation, and forming associations to further their views.
While slandering them as foreign agents is the weapon of choice to intimidate NGOs receiving foreign funds, it was difficult to use against citizens' organisations not receiving any foreign or domestic institutional funding like the PUCL, which too has been targeted by the so called IB report. It is shocking that a criticism of the so called Gujarat model of development and its ill effect on the poor and the marginalised people, and the participation in a seminar on this topic, by the Gujarat PUCL and some other organisations, including Gandhian and Sarvodaya ones is alleged by the Intelligence Bureau to be anti national.
We only hope that this intelligence report is not a precursor to a more sinister anti democratic and repressive crackdown by the new government on dissent and other human and democratic rights of the people to further a corporate led economic agenda.
We would like to remind the new Central government, as also all the states, what the Supreme Court of India pointed out in "S. Rangarajan vs P. Jagjivan Ram" (1994):
"'When men differ in opinion, both sides ought equally to have the advantage of being heard by the public.' (Benjamin Franklin). If one is allowed to say that policy of the Government is good, another is with equal freedom entitled to say that it is bad. If one is allowed to support the governmental scheme, the other could as well say, that he will not support it. The different views are allowed to be expressed by proponents and opponent not because they are correct, or valid but because there is freedom in this country for expressing even differing views on any issue."
We therefore call upon the new BJP-led government to respect people’s right to articulate their views, including their fundamental right to dissent and protest peaceably and in democratic manner.
Dr. V. Suresh
National General Secretary, PUCL
Prof. Prabhakar Sinha