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Hello friends, leaders from all the movements against land grab and for land right across the world and the office bearers and dear Sehjo from ActionAid, and Sandeep Bhai, and organizers from ActionAid!!


I am really sorry for I could not be with you for the seminar which is on the very important issue and when the mass movement leaders have come forth and together to design a widest level, world level strategy, I wish I could be there but I could not. I however, would like to initiate the dialogue with you on behalf of the National Alliance of People's Movements and the Narmada Movement because we two are for the last three and more decades are active on the land issue. Land which is not the source of life and livelihood but a life support is a very very invaluable asset and not just a natural resource or a commodity and it is very essential therefore, that what happens to this resource and what is done with this resource, whether by the ruler or the society defines and decides what happens to the livelihood. For the farmers, labourers, fishworkers, artisans, shopkeepers and all of us, Land gives food but land brings direct source of income to the natural resource based communities and if these are the communities and populations therein, that are directly affected by what is being done to land- our motherland. Land in the river valley is being submerged with the projects which are falsely depicted as development projects and we cannot call those so if they really destroy the prime land even if they bring in water or energy. Land in the coastal region is being snatched away from the fishworkers and they too are thrown into the occupations like liquor selling. This is the Indian situation and all this land when it is destroyed or snatched away goes to the "haves" from the agricultural labourer which is the largest among the labour population. It goes to the landlords of the so called "real estate" development. They are building unreal estate at the cost of the real heritage, the real resource, the real right support. During 10 years itself in India from 1992 to 2002, 18 million hectares of agricultural land got diverted to non-agricultural purposes. This statistics comes from Economic Survey of India and today the percentage and the scale is much more. This is because not only that no one is really concerned about food security even when the populist political measure grants subsidy and public distribution service to the large number of our people. They are not concerned about destroying land which cannot come from any optional source while water atleast can. And, that too the land water matrix and the eco system that it may be a part of along with the human resource, along with mineral resource, along with the fish and aquatic wealth, all of that receive the attack and face destruction. This destruction brings in straightaway not only food insecurity to those who live directly and eat from their own land with their own labour, it also affects the food security of a large majority as in our country whether they are urban poor with no piece of land in their name or the people in other occupations. This is rarely realized. As lakhs of tonnes of wheat was purchased from the foreign sources and imported when the wheat crop was standing here in India and that destroyed the income of the farmers. It is done without considering India's self- reliance, without considering what would happen to the large number of people who cannot otherwise get two meals a day. But along with food security, it also raises the problem of displacement which is deprivation, which is destitution, which is uprootment from the culture, environment, and the way of life. All this is obviously in favor of a small minority of the country's population that has their own consumerist way of living and that has their own design for vulgar profit making. The corporate, the industrialists and the rulers themselves who have become corporate or the estate developers who have become the landlords even in the urban areas where the land is valued at a rate per inch or per centimeter or also in the rural areas where the industries are reaching out only to extract, exploit and expropriate the natural and the human resource. This transfer of resources and the transfer of focus in our economic planning is therefore most dangerous from the point of view of not just ecological sustainability but also equity and justice. Are these values which are constitutional values and without which the constitutional fundamental rights in any country cannot be granted and ensured. This is what is bringing in the huge disparity today and is to be termed unconstitutional. But beyond constitutional rights we are all concerned about human rights and hence this is also against human rights need to be asserted. The women and all so called disadvantaged section whose vision is ignored in my past whose participation is denied, who are excluded from the mainstream decision making and planning and vision defining processes, they are the worst affected. The dalits and the adivasis and the labourers to the marginal landowners - they all are in the same category as unprotected not unorganised workers. We form 96 percent of the India's working class. I do not know about the each of the countries which you represent. I therefore feel that any movement or any action against this land grabbing needs to be with the corollary of land rights and that assertion for the land right by the landless, and by all those who are directly or indirectly depend on land, all those who need agriculture to be saved so that they can have two meals a day – they need to be at the forefront and they cannot be the small minority of the parliamentarians. They cannot be the small minority of our legislators and so called rulers. Those have to be ourselves. All of us the common people in India and across the world must join hands and get into the strongest movement ever. No doubt that the international alliance is also important, but we must start with the national alliance in each country and the international alliance obviously needs to focus at our target those financial institutions which through their financing imposing the policies of land grab, those financial institutions beginning with the Breton wood institutions that are not just changing our policies but also our culture, that are giving us a blurred vision coming from the West and from the imperialist view point of the world. So this world view needs to be denied and while we reject we donot reject and we respect the United Nations kind of organizations where too now the corporate entry and dent is making a difference. We must join hands not with only state with state, nation state with nation state but as people with people. Can this happen and can such a strategy we work out in this seminar you are fortunate to attend. I do not know but certainly we ourselves in our movement need to bring in and reflect and operationalise all the principles and vision that we have when we challenge anything like land grabbing. And certainly when we take the whole issue to the widest extent possible, we relate land with water, we relate land with minerals, we relate land with aquatic wealth and also with the wind and the tidal power, the solar energy source, etc. So all of these resources together make the natural ecosystem, which is also our livelihood system and hence together we fight as fishworkers to farmers, as labourers to artisans. How will that happen when we go to the doorsteps of WTO and when certain of the WTO meetings fail which we feel that it is our achievement but agreements after agreements have been coming forth and we do not even have our parliaments who discuss those agreements before those are signed. Unfortunately the some small inadequacies in the constitution and unconstitutional law making is also a challenge in the present day. While on the one hand like in India, right to food, right to education each of the fundamental, human and constitutional right is reiterated through no acts that have been brought in, there are also another legislative pieces where the land acquisition with the new Act in India. There is some space created for the environment and for the people to be affected no doubt, the social impact analysis- all that which were initiated by the movement. But yet there are other Acts like the Special Economic Zone Act, like the Industrial Development Act, like the Tourism Act which all are taking the toil of not just land but the land based and the natural resources populations. So countering one with another, giving by one hand and taking away by another is the political strategy and to challenge that therefore, the latest upsurge and the urge of the people, for all of us to also make a very prompt act and solid intervention into the electoral politics need to be taken cognizance of. This is the demand of the people and the vacuum in the Indian electoral politics which we could not fill ourselves now is getting filled by a youthful movement like party which has emerged. I am not fully in consensus with the vision of the new party, the AAP (Aam Admi Party) and yet I think we must acting as political workers take cognizance of this new initiative while the movement politics itself even outside electoral politics need to be carried forward and strengthened. Can we take up this double edged challenge or not? Do we really feel allied with each other to bring in a new national and international movement and when we cannot gather together in Washington or in Geneva or in Manila or in Mexico or anywhere for that matter in South Africa, we certainly can simultaneously act the common vision and common strategy which would depict our strategy of being international people's movement. Globalisation, liberalization and neo-liberalism especially need to be countered through this kind of internationalism amongst the people and people and people movements to people's movements. I am sure that with other strategy of reconstructive measure, women asserting land rights not just demanding but occupying small pieces of land and taking it forward through the cooperative measure, taking to the organic farming saying no to GM food and also demanding land re-distribution in favor of the landless and amongst landless, the dalit, the adivasis, where they are landless, if at all and, women, we can certainly design again this two-fold strategy of struggle with reconstruction. This is what the national alliance of people's movement and we in the Narmada Valley or every river valley in the coastal region, in the fields and also in the urban poor communities stand for. In the urban area where 20 to 50 percent of population in each state in India and in each country is taking to urban conglomeration, certainly 60 percent and even more of people living in slums, the shanty towns and unhygienic communities with below subsistence level amenities becomes a challenge to all of us. Even in urban areas where there is no ceiling Act anymore in India and where thousands of acres of land is in the hands of a handful of minority real estate developers to the media houses and the corporate houses, we need to again bring in the ceiling limit, we need to bring in through that equity and justice. But is it so easy to achieve what we want because the values and constitution apart when the politics is without a will towards equity and justice, we have to redefine it and we have also to innovatively carry forward our struggle. What strategies of occupying and re-occupying the resources we can resort to need to be thought by you all and how to involve not just others the downtrodden and the disadvantaged but also the new youth population and also the others who live on the labour and contribution of the 96 percent of unprotected workers including farmers and labourers is what is to be thought of also. I am sure that you together with the best brain and indomitable commitment that you bring with and the wide experience that your movements bring together, you would define the strategy and we will join you in whichever effort and direction you plan as a people's movement, a political, social and economic force. A new economy and polity is our goal our manzil and I really wish you success and wish you the best not only for this seminar but when you go back in your movement and our common cause. Thank you very much...