Greenpeace campaigners may be green activists, but for Government of India, if we go by the developments, they are anti-development.
According to reports, Greenpeace India will be forced to close its operations within a month after the government froze its accounts almost a month ago.
And if it happens so, it will be bad, not only for its over 300 employees, but also for environmental activism (or green activism).
And if it happens so, it will be a first for Greenpeace, the global not-for-profit – the forced closure in a country of its operation.
According to Greenpeace India chief Samit Aich, the organization, with funds available, can sustain itself for a maximum one month and a shutdown is imminent. The press release from the organization appealed to fight back the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) decision to block Greenpeace India funds, 68% of which, it claims, came from 77000 Indians.
Samit Aich appealed to his employees – “I just made one of the hardest speeches of my life, but my staff deserve to know the truth. We have one month left to save Greenpeace India from complete shutdown, and to fight MHA’s indefensible decision to block our domestic accounts. The question here is why are 340 people facing the loss of their jobs? Is it because we talked about pesticide-free tea, air pollution, and a cleaner, fairer future for all Indians?”
Greenpeace is sure going to challenge it in a court, like it has done it in the past. And it is expected to emerge as a winner, like it emerged in Priya Pillai case. She had moved to the court after being offloaded from a London flight this January. Indian government found her a threat to the country who was going abroad to testify against the government. The Delhi High Court was stinging in its remarks while absolving Priya Pillai this March. The court ordered the government to allow her to travel abroad and remove her from the ‘banned list’. The court also ordered the government to expunge the remark related to her ‘offloading’ from her visa.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher’s was directly hitting at the government – “Criticism, by an individual, may not be palatable; even so, it cannot be muzzled. Many civil right activists believe that they have the right, as citizens, to bring to the notice of the state the incongruity in the developmental policies of the state. The state may not accept the views of the civil right activists, but that by itself, cannot be a good enough reason to do away with dissent.”
And it is bound to happen. India is slated to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing economy and the signs are already there. The Indian government of the day wants to increase the share of manufacturing in its economy – from 16% to 22% by 2022. Now that is a lot and bound to have intense activity in the sector with the ‘Make In India’ initiative.
The government and the activists, especially, the environmental activists, will cross ways regularly. Greenpeace India comes in this category.
And Greenpeace India is facing survival crisis while writing this, as already mentioned. The government came with an order that was to affect the whole organization, and not just some campaigners. On April 9, government froze Greenpeace’s bank accounts and suspended its FCRA registration (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) on ‘violating norms’ that Greenpeace says are unfounded allegations.
On May 8, Greenpeace India submitted its response to the MHA, rebutting point by point its accusations. They say they have not violated norms and the MHA notice has many clerical errors and is totally unfounded.
Greenpeace India expects its response to the MHA will clear things. Samit Aich said on the response – “We are confident that this response establishes our legitimacy beyond any doubt. We have addressed every allegation made against us and responded in a transparent and honest way throughout. In contrast, the MHA has used unfounded allegations and arbitrary penalties in a blatant attempt to silence us. We remain proud of our campaigns for clean air, water and affordable energy, and refuse to be intimidated by such dirty tricks.”
Let’s see what happens next. Like Priya Pillai’s case, Indian courts are always accessible for an organization like Greenpeace.
And if the MHA doesn’t act on it, we should hear from Greenpeace from the courtroom for sure, for they ‘refuse to be intimidated by dirty tricks’.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/