Terrorism, Agriculture, United States and India

Terrorism, Agriculture, United States and India

By Vandana Shiva

Terrorism and agriculture have been addressed in the joint India-United States statement, issued on July 18, 2005, during Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh's meeting with President Bush

Terrorism, Agriculture, and U.S. Cooperation with India

Terrorism and agriculture have been issues addressed in the joint India-United States statement, issued on July 18, 2005, during Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh's meeting with President Bush. As stated in the statement, the two leaders decided:

- create an international climate that is conducive to the promotion of democratic values, and to reinforcing democratic practices in societies that wish to become open and pluralistic.
- Relentlessly combat terrorism.

The two leaders also agreed:

- Launch an American-Indian program on agricultural knowledge, focused on promoting teaching, research, and business and service connections.

The Memorandum of Understanding, on Science and Technology, signed between the United States and India on July 20, 2005, makes it clear that training and research will focus on Biotechnology or genetic engineering, frequently referred to as the second Green Revolution. The Agreement on Science and Technology cites the Green Revolution of the 1960s as the beginning of cooperation between India and the United States. To assess the impact of the new Agreement, an objective examination of the impact of the Green Revolution must be carried out.

This is not the first time that the United States has imposed an agricultural program on India. The so-called Green Revolution took place forty years ago, and it encouraged terrorism and extremism in Punjab in the 1980s.

While the two leaders decided to "fight terrorism relentlessly" they were promoting technologies and business models that serve the interests of American multinationals and destroy the food security of farmers, turning them into fertile ground for the emergence of terrorism, just as I have revealed in my book "The Violence of the Green Revolution" (Zed Books).

When we gained independence, our agriculture was in crisis due to neglect and exploitation. The Minister of Agriculture, K.M. Munshi considered as a priority the re-implantation of the natural hydrological and nutritional cycles, which are the principles that are followed in sustainable organic agriculture.

However, while Indian scientists and policy makers were working on independent and green alternatives to regenerate agriculture in India, a different perspective on agricultural development was being designed in US foundations and aid agencies, which was not based on cooperation with the nature but in its conquest.

Development that was not based on the intensification of natural processes but on the increase in credit and the purchase of production goods such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides; that it was founded on dependency rather than independence; in uniformity rather than diversity. Advisers and experts came from the United States to change India's lines of research and agricultural policy, transforming it from an ecological and traditional model to a foreign one that required large investments, and that found, of course, partners in sectors of the elite because the new model satisfied their political priorities and interests.

In the transfer of the American agricultural model to India, three groups of international institutions were involved - Private Foundations, the United States Government and the World Bank. The Ford Foundation had been involved in agricultural training and extension since 1952. The Rockefeller Foundation had been involved in the reorganization of the agricultural research system in India starting in 1953. In 1958, the Indian Institute of Agricultural Research (Indian Agricultural Research Institute), created in 1905, was reorganized and Ralph Cummings, Field Director of the Rockefeller Foundation became its first dean. He was succeeded in 1960 by A.B. Joshi, and in 1965 by M.S. Swaminathan.

In addition to reorganizing Indian research institutes according to American criteria, the Rockefeller Foundation also funded trips by Indian researchers to American institutions. Between 1956 and 1970, 90 short-term fellowships were awarded to Indian leaders to introduce them to agricultural institutes and experimental plants in the United States. 115 students completed their studies with the help of the Foundation. In the same period, another 2,000 Indians received funding from the US Agency for Development Cooperation (USAID) to visit the United States and obtain agricultural training.

The work of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations was facilitated by institutions such as the World Bank, which provided credit for the introduction of the capitalist intensive agriculture model in a poor country. In the mid-1960s India was forced to devalue its currency by up to 37.5%. The World Bank and the US Cooperation Agency also lobbied for favorable conditions for foreign investment in the Indian fertilizer industry, for the liberalization of imports and the removal of internal controls.

The World Bank provided credit to obtain the necessary foreign exchange to carry out those policies. For the five-year period (1966-71) the need for foreign exchange for the Green Revolution strategy was forecast at 11,140 million rupees, which at the official exchange rate amounted to about 2,800 million dollars, which was slightly more than six times the total amount devoted to agriculture during the third preceding plan (Rs 1,910 million). Most of the foreign exchange was needed to import fertilizers, seeds and pesticides, which were the new investments in a strategy of intensive use of chemicals.

The World Bank and USAID stepped in to provide the financial investment necessary for the technology package that had been developed and transferred by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations.

The 1966 drought caused a severe decline in food production in India and led to an unprecedented increase in grain supplies from the United States. Food dependency was used to impose new political conditions on India. US President Lyndon Johnson tightened the nuts on the grain supply by refusing to provide food aid for more than a month until the agreement, adopting the entire Green Revolution package, was signed between the Indian minister agriculture, CS Subramanian and US Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman.

The combination of science and politics for the establishment of the Green Revolution dates back to the period of the 1940s, when Daniels, American ambassador to the government of Mexico, and Henry Wallace, vice-president of the United States, launched a scientific mission to advise on the development of agricultural technologies in Mexico. The Office of Special Studies was established in Mexico in 1943 at the Ministry of Agriculture as a cooperative undertaking between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican Government.

In 1944, Dr. J. George Harrar, director of the new Mexican research program, and Dr. Frank Hanson, an official of the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, invited Norman Borlaug to change his job at the secret war laboratory at Dupont. for the plant breeding program in Mexico. Around 1954, Borlaug's "miracle seeds" appeared with dwarf varieties of wheat. In 1970, Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize for "his great contribution to the establishment of a new world situation in relation to food."

However, the Green Revolution did not bring peace to Punjab, it brought terrorism.

The Green Revolution, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, contributed to two social and environmental disasters in India. One was the extremist movement and terrorism in Punjab that led to the military assault on the Golden Temple and eventually the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. The other, the gas leak from Union Carbide's pesticide factory in Bhopal, that killed 3,000 people on that tragic December night in 1984. In the two decades since the tragedy, 30,000 people have died in Bhopal from the escape of those toxic gases. Violence in Punjab claimed the lives of another 30,000 people in the years following 1984.

Why could a "revolution", awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, provoke so much violence? The Green Revolution came with the promise of peace, but its stark linearity: technology-> prosperity-> peace, failed. The reason for this failure was that the technologies of the Green Revolution, such as those of war, impoverish nature and society. Expecting prosperity to increase thanks to technologies that destroy the land, erode biodiversity, pollute and deplete water, and put farmers in debt and ruin was the false premise that launched the Green Revolution. And this false premise is the one that is repeated in the launching of the Second Green Revolution, based on biotechnology and genetic engineering, which are at the core of the agreement between the United States and India.

“Terrorism” and “extremism” in the Punjab arose from the experience of the injustice of the Green Revolution as a model of development, in which power is centralized and people's resources and lands are appropriated. In the words of Gurmata of the All Sikh Convention (Quoted in my book, The Violence of the Green Revolution) of April 13, 1986:

“If the well-deserved income of the people or natural resources of any nation or region is forcibly plundered; If the goods they produce are paid for at arbitrarily set prices while the goods they buy are sold at higher prices and, taking this process of economic exploitation to its logical conclusion, the human rights of a nation, a region or a people are lost, then people will feel as Sikhs feel today, in the shackles of slavery. "

It is clear that “the peasants and people of the Punjab did not perceive the Green Revolution as a source of prosperity and freedom. For them it meant slavery. The Green Revolution, the social and ecological impact it had and the reactions it provoked among an angry and disillusioned peasantry, offer us many lessons to understand the roots of terrorism and to seek solutions to violence.

Those are the connections our leaders are unable to make. The more they fight terrorism, the more they feed it with their policies that produce economic insecurity. The more they talk about democracy, the more they destroy freedom by imposing trade and political rules that deny people freedom and turn against farmers and citizens. The UNWTO Agreement on Agriculture was written by a Cargill official; the Treaty on Intellectual Property Rights in Commerce was written by a group of US corporations, including Monsanto. Monsanto's seed monopoly has already driven thousands of farmers to suicide in India, and promoting trade for Monsanto and Cargill through the Agreement on Agriculture will kill more farmers, and ultimately end the India's food security, with its sovereignty and democracy, producing more terrorism and extremism.

The US-India Science and Technology Cooperation Treaty establishes intellectual property protocols on research without consulting Indian scientists or public opinion that has been resisting the US-style IPR regimes that oblige researchers. countries to pay patents for life, and create monopolies on seeds, medicine and software.

For us, these agreements are instruments of the dictatorship of the corporations; they are not instruments of democracy. And like dictatorships, they will produce more anger, more discontent and more frustration.

Terrorism is the offspring of economically unjust and anti-democratic policies, as has become clear in Punjab in India, and in Oklahoma in the US As Joel Dyer exposes in The Harvest of Race, an investigation into the Oklahoma bombing and its roots in the American agricultural crisis, in farmers who lose their farms and livelihoods, and who are victims of great sustained stress. If they are not helped, they become violent. If they blame themselves, they direct their violence towards themselves and commit suicide. If they blame others, they turn their violence outward.

This is the violence of terrorism and extremism, and the only lasting solution to dealing with terrorism is to increase the freedom and security of people by protecting their livelihoods, their cultures, their rights to resources, and their democratic choices on how organize their society and their lives.

The US-India Agreement on Agriculture, Science and Technology will do the opposite. It will create more insecurity and erode people's ability to choose. Hence, it will fail in its two main objectives of promoting democracy and ending terrorism.

* Original title: Terrorism, Agriculture and U.S. India Cooperation
Author: Vandana Shiva
Origin: ZNet Sustainers; Wednesday August 10, 2005 -
Translated by: Felisa Sastre

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