|By Kamala Das|
|John Maynard Keynes cautioned that we live our lives under the illusion of freedom, but likely to be slaves to some defunct economist. Even that description understates the problem. The world may be caged by a defect of the entire economic profession, namely the idea that we can asses value in banknotes, or that we can understand our relationship to the material world using an abstract metric rather than a biological one. The extraordinary advances made by Western societies will , in the end, be subservient to the land and what it can provide and teach.|
I like to coin the phenomena he’s talking about as Industrial Catabolism. The worldwide mantra for business is “growth” stated in so many mindless ways as we need to grow the economy”, or “economic growth”, “unprecedented growth” etc. But this concept unchecked is self defeating on a finite planet. Nothing in life grows and grows in a linear fashion without some kind of recycling. A tumor that grows beyond carrying capacity destroys its host. Nature shows us, there are limits, which is not a popular concept among those in speculative industries.
I found it interesting to read the Wikipedia definition of economic growth. It is “defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of its members.”
To satisfy the wants of its members is the key phrase. This is actually quite an empowering definition to read considering unchecked growth in the economy is a driving factor for ecological and social devastation. It means that it is not inevitable, and that we- as in you, me, and everyone, casts our votes with our participation in the system. Wants are tenable, not fixed, and not absolute. Wants can change to slow down the industrial catabolism if we can take personal responsibility over what we want. But we have to know what to take responsibility for, and advertising and public relations campaigns, “experts” and daily editorializing and gossiping, has made this task very confusing.
Alot of energy is spent to manufacture, manipulate and engineer these wants for us. Wants are like chains on our freedom, chains on our planet and polarizing chains to each other. A long time ago, before we were born, the fabric of our descent as a people was sown by those who understood that wants were manipulatable. Consider master public relations/propagandist Edward Bernays. If you’ve never heard of him you should watch the Century of the Self.
In his book History as a Weapon (1928) he writes, “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
Can any who reads this prove this man wrong through your own experience? From my experience, habits and opinions have their root in ignorance. Liberation from the control of the senses requires discipline.Yoga, or some internalized practice, where one begins to investigate “who/what” operates the body/mind/sense complex is a way to distance oneself from this manipulation.
We must take personal responsibility for our perceptions which bind us to systems of control that are hiding in the minds shadows. These subconscious desires and fears as Bernays would put them, are easily preyed upon through advertising; the shape and color of a logo, the language spin of an article, the fast flickering visuals of the television. Then we repeat this blather to others, in idle chit-chat, in our educational institutions, gossip and self righteous proselytizing; repeating and amplifying the stories which become teachings for the next generation.
Let’s consider something. People in “developed and developing” countries, which actually means, countries who promote consumerism as the driving social value, commonly have a television in their home or business. In the United States, television has been commercially available since the 1920s! As Wikipedia states, “a television set has become commonplace in homes, businesses and institutions, particularly as a vehicle for advertising, a source of entertainment, and news.”
Advertising funds the programs you watch, the radio you listen to and the articles you read. What social values do you think get passed forward from the advertisers, and how do you think they control the content of what you are watching? This goes beyond the scope of this article so it’s up to you to research now.
THE METHOD OF TRANSMISSION
In Journal of Cognitive Liberties, Vol.2. Issue No.2 Pages 59-66, Wes More, describes in his article Opiate for the Masses,
In other words we are activated on a subconsious and emotional level, generally beyond the control of our neo cortex that judges real from unreal, meanwhile are bathed in pleasure/reward habit forming endorphins to keep us watching.
Edward Bernays was in the business of “manufacturing consent”. He was highly successful because he understood a few things about the human condition; in general humans trust organized systems of information (media), they are conditioned to submit their consciousness to authority and hierarchal structures, they are social creatures, and are emotionally manipulatable. In this regard, the age old debate whether human nature is good or bad, doesn’t matter. Human nature is malleable and the more unaware an individual is of his/her own thoughts and desires , the more manipulatable he/she is.
Being unaware is profitable and being profitable in the current free market economic growth paradigm is exploiting something from a distance. Here, we do the work of the man for the man through the power of an unquestioned thought, and never see the consequences in the rainforest, in a village far far away, or with a family we will never meet.
Belief systems/politically motivated stories, have an origination agenda, and are maintained through social engineering and replication of values and assumptions.
THE STORY BEGINS
For example, in the 19th century the United States, people and politicians had a mainstream attitude of expansionism and nationalism. This belief was labeled “Manifest Destiny”. Manifest Destiny was an accepted “general notion” rather than an official policy. This allowed America to expand its borders, adding Oregon, California, and Texas, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, through military and diplomatic maneuvers aimed at continental expansion.
Historian, William E. Weeks has noted that three key themes were usually touched upon by advocates of Manifest Destiny, 1. virtue of the American people and their institutions. The belief that the American way is superior. 2. The mission to spread these institutions thereby redeeming and making the world in the image of the U.S; and 3. a mandate from God to do this work. In other words, the killing and relocation of the native population is justified because the American way was mandated by God to reform those perceived as needing an image upgrade.
The voting public, military men, housewives, etc. upheld these values in their social interactions, from the pulpit, in the street and through laws that were passed. The inhabitants of America, there long before the Manifest Destiny or Columbus infact, suffered a ruthless genocide and uprooting because of the “power of ideas” – the power of a social story. What followed was forcible resettling of Native Americans as the citizenry of the United States forged westward.
In 1830, the Indian Removal Act was passed by then president Andrew Jackson, to expand the Presidents power to conduct treaties, to exchange Native American land east of Mississippi river for lands west of the river. It took until 1924, when Native Americas were finally recognized by the U.S government as “citizens.”
Many Native cultures were matrilineal. This meant people occupied lands for use by the entire community, for growing food and hunting. The Manifest Destiny was inherently patriarchal, stemming from ideas of European patriarchy that used ideas of individual property rights, and ownership over nature. The flag of Manifest Destiny did not recognize native lands as “legal”, nor the stewardship of these lands by the inhabitants. The inhabitants were unquestionably externalities to the physical expression of ideas.
AND ONE STORY CREATES ANOTHER
Another politically motivated story, or what I like to call “engineered myth” is that India can’t feed her people without foreign intervention and philanthropy that purport the use of subsidized wheat and rice, GM seeds and chemicals. This myth takes hold in times of crisis such as during a drought or famine, as it relies on the fear of starvation and death to work the minds of the public. This myth has three parts,:
1. Those promoting the myth do so because they stand to profit from the GM seeds and chemicals. In other words, market access is guaranteed if the general population plays along with the story- thus ensuring the idea will not be met with resistance. Politicians are also rewarded by enforcing the myth through responsive legislation;
2. The second part is that the myth plays on emotion, particularly the primal fear of starvation rooted in cultural imprints of past famines, food shortages, etc.;
3. The third part is that the myth must be seeded, until it saturates the media, which saturates the commons, and replicates on its own. Once this occurs it is detached from its original creators. A meme, which represent a thoughtform or belief, acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices. Memes self-replicate through various modes of transmission, from one person to the next, through gesture, writing. etc.
The second part of the myth, the primal fear of starvation is maintained by the first (laws and legislation) and second (advertising) parts. Brilliant.
Edward Bernays in History as a Weapon writes,
PHIILANTHROCAPITALISM AND THE STORY TELLERS
The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations entered the market of philanthropy in India, to lay the groundwork for an agricultural shift that would use chemical inputs, special seeds, and western agricultural techniques to improve food production, inspired still byManifest Destiny style nationalism. To do this they had to convince the country of India that it couldn’t feed it’s people, and thus needed assistance. In other words, to access the Indian market, there would have to be a reason why Indians would widely adopt American agricultural techniques. The perfect sales pitch was hunger and famine, starvation and drought. The assumption is that rural peasants aren’t smart enough to manage their problem, and the elite class must intervene. India, simply couldn’t feed her people without their help.
Fredrick Gates, a wealthy baptist minister, became Rockefeller’s key philanthropic and business adviser. He helped him set up well-funded foundations that were run by experts who decided what topics of reform were relevant and profitable, actualizing Rockefellers idea that for every dollar given away in philanthropy you ought to be able to make at least a hundred back. The foundation operating as a tax free entity, would identify problems, (or create them), then provide the solution. When there was no problem, they would find one to solve. This is the beginning of philanthrocapitalism.
The Rockefeller and Ford foundation come requisite with a mindset that the rich are the best qualified to determine what the poor needs, eats, lives and what kind of work they can do. Read on.
In 1902 John. D Rockefeller met with a group of southern educators to establish The General Education Board for educating other “races”, starting with “negros” but not limited only to them. To get a peak inside the motivation behind the boards outreach we have only to read a letter from one of its founders. In the Board’s Occasional Letter No. 1, Fredrick Gates writes,
There is a inherent belief encapsulated in his writings and that is, that the general public should yield to the agendas of those who “know better.” This is not all together different than the mindset of the Manifest Destiny.
In 1925 public relations specialist, Edward Bernays was hired to make Standard Oil, founder and tycon family the Rockefellers to improve their public image. Standard Oil was widely criticized as a monopoly, and polluter, though it made John D. Rockefeller the richest man in modern history. After Ida Tarbell’s muckraking book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, came out, Bernays stepped in to spin the Rockefeller “image”. Bernays was quoted as saying, “it is possible to regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies.”
He said these” new techniques of regmintation of minds, had to be used by the intelligent miniorities in order to make sure that the Slobs stay on the right course.”(From Chomsky’s “What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream”: A talk at Z Media Institute, June 1997). The slobs he is referring to is the general public, me and you, because we are not smart enough, empowered enough or strong enough to rule ourselves. How does that make you feel?
As a side note, Bernays was not the main PR representative to the Rockefellers. A contemporary and competitor of Edward Bernays, was Ivy Lee. He was retained by John D. Rockefeller to manage the public image of his family and Standard Oil. Shortly before his death, the U.S. Congress had been investigating Lee’s work for the controversial IG Farben company in Nazi Germany.
The Ford Foundation focused originally on setting up educational television and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Like the Rockefeller Foundation, public relations was a major part of their outreach to the American people, though that will be covered in a later article.
“In 1935, the Rockefeller Foundation set up an office in New Delhi to oversee all of its activities in India. This center was in operation for more than 30 years. It was the headquarters from which the foundation implemented its expanded activities in medicine, agriculture, and the humanities in the golden age of American involvement during the 1950s and 1960s.”
“During the golden age of the foundation’s work in India, roughly 1948 to 1973, it expanded its operations in India. By 1966, it had 15 of its personnel in India helping to oversee numerous proposals and grants in medicine, agriculture, the social sciences, and the humanities.” (Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)………
“The first president of this new Ford Foundation, who eventually detached from the Ford Motor Company, was Paul Hoffman. He decided that India, one of the two Asian giants, and the non-Communist one, was to be a focus of serious investment by the Ford Foundation for the good of the future of India and the good of the free world. Assistance to India would demonstrate what free men with wealth and wisdom could do to help other men to follow them down the same or a similar path of development.”
“Although Hoffman’s vision cannot be explored here, he seemed to think that alleviating poverty in India would put Indians firmly in the Western camp and further democratic rights.” (Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)
“Hoffman recruited an agricultural sociologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Douglas Ensminger, to be the foundation’s representative in India. The latter visited India in 1951 and took up his job in 1952. He became, in time,the most powerful and longest-lasting representative of the foundation abroad. Not only did Ensminger develop a unique tie to the government of India through Nehru and other top officials, but he formed unusual ties to the trustees of the foundation in the United States that allowed him occasionally to go around administrators including the foundation’s presidents in New York, who were supposedly supervising him.”
“Ensminger, in his lengthy topical [*112] and repetitious memoir of his India days, described himself as a “change agent” loosed in a society tied up in tradition, static, going nowhere, but desperately needing changes. He was going to help to show them the way and he had considerable resources to utilize. n17″ (Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)
“Ensminger and the Ford Foundation more generally stressed the importance of American technical assistance to so-called developing, or Third World, areas during the 1950s and 1960s. Technical assistance in practice meant that a substantial part of the grants was spent on bringing foreign experts to show the Indians the way. These were most often Americans but included a smattering of Europeans, Canadians, and others as well. Although elaborate orientation programs were worked out for these visiting foreigners who were to teach Indians about a variety of subjects….”(Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)
“However, this was the heyday of American overseas aid and institution building in the new nations of South Asia and confidence started high–both as to what the foreigners could give and how India and also Pakistan could progress rapidly.”
“In the period from 1951 to 1995, the Ford Foundation made about 2500 grants to India; it expended $ 128 million by one account and $ 275 million by another. In any case, the number of grants and diverse projects to which they have been applied is staggering. Much early attention was given to the community development area, a special interest of Nehru and one which appealed to Ensminger and the foundation as well. ….in the Ensminger period, technical aid to agriculture was stressed rather than holistic community development.”(Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)
“Ensminger recruited F. Champion Ward from the University of Chicago to serve as educational specialist for the foundation in India. Inter alia, Ward hoped that [*113] by giving grants for general education to a number of Indian universities, he would help them to provide the kind of wide view that he thought students at America’s best universities were getting.” ‘ (Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)
It is important to understand that what was taught in the agricultural and medical universities in India during those times were technologies that had already existed in industrialized nations. Those technologies were largely based on oil based solutions – from synthetic fertilizers, to motorized pumps and tractors, to pesticides, because those technologies were introduced by a few select billionaire families, notably Standard Oil and its offshoots (Exxon, Mobil, Amaco, Chevron). I think one can assume without it being fallacious that when a oil tycoon and not a farmer creates the solution of how India will feed her people, that solution will include oil. Certainly history has prooved this to be true.
The energy for increasing production “did not come from an increase in incipient sunlight, nor did it result from introducing agriculture to new vistas of land. The energy for the Green Revolution was provided by fossil fuels in the form of fertilizers (natural gas), pesticides (oil), and hydrocarbon fueled irrigation. ” Since fertilizers are largely what made the Green Revolution possible, they forever changed agricultural practices because the high yield varieties developed during this time cannot grow successfully without the help of fertilizers. “(About.com)
What was taught in the Rockefeller/Ford sponsored curriculum in India’s universities were new techniques in mono cropping, irrigation, use of pesticides, and synthetic nitrogen based fertilizer as well as using two high yielding crop varieties that worked well with industrial techniques.
Prior to the Green Revolution, India was growing food and did feed her people, and when she didn’t it wasn’t the farming techniques that were at fault. India, including now Pakistan and Bangledesh, has had 90 famines in the last 2500 years. It is difficult to estimate the total number of deaths, a conservative estimate puts it near 60 million. I challenge my readers to find me an example where subsequent starvation wasn’t because of one of the following:
Government inaction, devaluation of farming, inadequate transportation of food, routing of food to specialized projects -such as to the military, export of food is not rerouted back into the country, lowered feasibility of migrate do to cultural tensions, failure in Colonial leadership to respond quickly to food shortages, lack of reduction in the price of food, and finally, the loss of employment of agricultural labors and artisans.
Dying from malnutrition, happens regardless of natural catastrophe, even though the likelihood is expanded. If we are foolish enough to believe, however that subsidized wheat and rice given to the poor will meet the nutritional challenges of a hard working life, we are fooling ourselves and not comprehending the actual intent of foreign aid programs in time of “need”. The United States never gives away something for nothing. (This too is another article I will attempt to write in the coming months)
Before the Green Revolution India grew polycultures of native and sometimes hybridized seed, planting in relation to the monsoon. People and land were at the mercy of natural boundaries. Population could not grow beyond the capacity of the land and weather patterns to support food production. It was common that India was subject to famine and flood just like she is today, and nowhere in the world, not even in the mighty west, can people stave off natural disasters.
India had adapted her agriculture to meet climactic challenges the best she could. India has a wealth of time honored techniques, the were not barcodable. Take for instance the commentary by Zero Budget Natural Farming. This was written by Subhash Palekar, a farmer who grew up using traditional methods, then was educated in an agricultural university to use chemicals and after observing their destruction, returned to traditional agriculture. He writes,
“Since thousands of years, our farmers were treating their seeds by local cow urine, cow dung and little soil from the bund of the farm or land of the farm. This was the traditional method and also a totally scientific method. But, after the arrival of Agricultural Universities, all good things in Agricultural sector were destroyed and all unnatural and so unscientific techniques were imposed on the farmers and indirectly on the urban consumers. Agricultural Universities propose you now all dangerous poisons for seed treatment. When you apply any poisonous fungicides or medicines to the seed, all useful effective (our friends) microorganisms are destroyed in the soil. When these poisonous chemicals treated seeds germinate and grow, these poisons are also sucked by the roots with the soil water solution and are deposited in the body organs of the plant i.e. vegetables, grains, fruits, tubers etc. When we eat these produce, these poisons are transmitted to our body and causes T. B., Diabetes, Cancer, Heart problems to the eater consumers. As well as, when farmers purchase these fungicides & medicines for seed treatment, a big exploitation of the farmers occurs.”
It is true that after the Green Revolution, the production of wheat and rice soared. To credit the numeric rise to the miracle seeds and pesticides is to fail at the exercise of critical thinking. Poly means many. So simply put farmers were growing many things on one piece of land or in cooperation with other farmers to meet their nutritional needs. If you replace every varied crop they were growing with just one, the numbers of that one crop is going to rise. If you give that one thing a veritable “growth hormone booster” a synthetic fertilizer, it will yield higher results but for how long? Every short cut comes with a cost.
The charts and graphs used for proof of the Green Revolutions success are smoke and mirrors to make us believe that somehow the Green Revolution was a miracle that fed the world. Meanwhile the charts and graphs, by their very nature, distance us from the socio-ecological impact of what was thought up by foundations started by an oil tycoon and automobile manufacturer…not a farmer.
What is interesting about the drift away from traditional agriculture is that it the profit, monetarily and nutritionally drifted into the pockets of the philanthropists. Take a look:
Oxen drawn plows /REPLACED WITH / Oil/gas powered tractors and machinery (ideology set up by Standard Oil/Ford Motor Company founders, profits guaranteed by Rockefeller/Ford global enterprises, industry offshoots)
Fertilizer from cows, preparations from cow urine/dung and other plants /REPLACED WITH/Nitrogen based synthetic fertilizer which are typically synthesized using fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal. Profits guaranteed by Rockefeller/Ford global enterprises, industry offshoots.)
Natural pesticides, using ferments of cow urine/dung/ and other plants, ash, safe pest levels maintained through companion planting and polyculture, and other biological solutions /REPLACED WITH/ Methyl iodide, glycosphosphate (Monsanto), endosulphan (originator Bayer Crop Science), organophosphate pesticides, Malathion (originated in America now manufactured in India Atrazine (Sygenta -GM Seeds, Monsanto competitor) Sandoz ( Ciba Geigy (chemicals, gm,) Sandoz, and Geigy now called Novaris (pharmaceutical) )Diazinon, Chloropyrifos, Chlordane, Lindane, Pemethrin, Cypermethrin. These are regulated by government control agencies, made of fossil fuels and higher chemisty and owned by pharmaceutical, biotech and agrobusiness giants. (list names a few only)
Seed Saving. Farmers saved seeds year by year, created their own farm level characteration of traits /REPLACED WITH/ Genetically modified and hybrid seeds patented as intellectual property and sold through Monsanto, Sygenta, Bayer, Dow, Dupont (see seed industry structure)
This structure moved the control of India’s food supply out of farmers hands and into corporate interest, nationally and abroad.
You might be scratching your head and thinking I thought you were talking about the Rockefeller and Ford Foundation and a socially engineered myth? True, and every story has its initial motivation, in this case, it’s a world view , much like the Manifest Destiny, that promotes the rich and powerful solving problems for the “underprivledged”. In other words, problems they attempt to solve are ultimately spun by foundations who lay the framework of the problems the Corporations must solve through their world view.
Knowingly or unknowingly, they also create the problem, or an axillary problem from the solutions. In the meantime, foundations, corporations, and governments all share members, and missions. Because of the reach and power of a few, the “myth” permeates government and universities, then the general population follow in-step via massive public relations campaigns.
Take for instance this speach given by Gordon Conway, from the Rockefeller Foundation on June 24, 1999.
“The Rockefeller Foundation has funded over $100 million dollars of plant biotechnology research and trained over four hundred scientists from Asia, Africa and Latin America. While this may not sound like much by Monsanto standards, our grantees have made significant progress. At several locations in Asia there is now a critical mass of talent applying the new tools of biotechnology to rice improvement.”
…”Trying to ensure a future that includes the poor and excluded is not only a huge job, it is, you may say, not Monsanto’s job. Monsanto’s job is to provide a decent return to your shareholders by running a sustainable, innovative and responsible enterprise.”
The intention is so blatant it’s astounding.
This article is admittedly focused on the myth and story. Presenting the scientific evidence against or for genetically modified foods is another article. Outside of the lab result slinging, expert testimony, and political endorsements, is the broader issue – who profits from our basic necessity to eat? When investigation turns up that it’s not the farmers but chemical companies with appalling environmental records, oil empires that have drug the world into war, and pharmaceutical companies whose profits increase when a population gets sicker and sicker, one has to question if the creator of such technology has our best interest in mind or is deluded by their own ideology. When we do consider the adoption of such technology on a global scale, as Monsanto advises, we must consider the implications. Long -term testing would seem like the only ethical solution, to appease both sides of the debate. However, as we have seen through the manipulation of government, including the United States F.D.A, and India through the recent push for the BRAI bill, the exact opposite is happening. Technology with no long term broad spectrum world wide studies is being pushed on all of us, without labeling or conscious.
“The conscious choice of a few genes for mobilization and widespread replication substitutes human judgement for natural selection. From a theological viewpoint it is questionable that the agribusiness scientific staff have the collective wisdom to determine what constitutes the good when it comes to desirable genes. The fact that their choice could be self-sustaining (e.g., if the gene escaped into the wild) is cause for further concern. Initially, this and other adverse impacts potentially resulting from mass scale transgenic operations are likely to be invisible.” (Marc Lappe and Britt Baily, Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food [Monroe, Me.:Common Courage, 1998], 114 )
“Why should the rich and famous decide how schools are going to be reformed, or what drugs will be supplied at prices affordable to the poor, or which civil society groups will get funding for their work?”
THE NEW FOUNDATION OF THE PUSH FOR A 2nd GREEN REVOLUTION – THE STORY REPEATS
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world, is now partnering with The Rockefeller Foundation to launch a Green Revolution in sub-Saharan Africa to “revolutionize food production and reduce hunger and poverty and to enhance agricultural science.”
That sounds great, but who gets to participate. Let’s look at the foundation’s connections. The Gates Foundation has holdings in
On the board of the foundation is also pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, banks and Dupont Pioneer Hybrid. The Rockefeller foundation has contributed $50 million. Critics, including myself think that the foundation has a preference to make grants which benefit who the foundation holds stocks with, such as Monsanto. As a side note, recently Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet both visited India to encourage the billionaires to invest in social programs, like the Gates Foundation. All of this is a matter of public record, available for any of my readers to find
Something less obvious is happening here. The word Corporation and Multinational is getting linked as culpable co-creators in the ecological and social devastation on the earth. The Gates Foundation, can now hide behind its billions while making billions by using the powerful public relations spin and oxymoron of philanthrocapitalism. Meanwhile, all those attached to the Gates Foundation can declare to the public that they are supporting a good cause!
“The term was coined by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, the British authors of Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World, which identified an emerging trend towards blending charitable giving with market disciplines. The great benefactors of the past tended to operate through cumbersome, if well-meaning, foundations over which they retained relatively little control, beyond an insistence on having their names slapped upon municipal parks, museums and hospitals. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businesslatestnews/7932127/The-billionaire-boys-Beware-of-geeks-bearing-gifts.html)
But all that has changed:
“In other words, as a long critique in the American magazine Foreign Affairs puts it, the foundation gives with one hand and takes away with the other. In his book Small Change: Why Business Won’t Change the World, Michael Edwards, a former World Bank adviser, asks: “Why should the rich and famous decide how schools are going to be reformed, or what drugs will be supplied at prices affordable to the poor, or which civil society groups will get funding for their work?” In this sense, say opponents of the new philanthropy, the needy are being written out of their own story, with the world’s attention focused instead on the people doing the giving. “
This is a question India needs to ask her self? “Why should the rich and famous decide how schools are going to be reformed, or what drugs will be supplied at prices affordable to the poor, or which civil society groups will get funding for their work?”
How much foreign involvement, nepotism, corruption and farmer cleansing will the Indian population take before it revolts against the silly myth of the market place?
THE STORY BEGINS TO UNRAVEL
A critical eye will easily find that the bylines of successes presented in ad campaigns, official company reports, and the nightly news, are contradictory. The World Health Organization, (WHO) which is by no means a neutral or anti-globalization organization states that in India:
“At the other end of the malnutrition scale, obesity is one of today’s most blatantly visible – yet most neglected – public health problems. Paradoxically coexisting with undernutrition, an escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity – “globesity” – is taking over many parts of the world”
But wait wasn’t the wheat and rice of the Green Revolution a success?
The WHO shows a chart that says that 37% of India’s lower middle class suffer from nutritional, communicable, and perinatal deaths, and the likelihood of cancer is 6%. Systolic blood pressure and glucose is also rising. They go on to say that,
“Over the last few decades, traditional societies in many developing countries have experienced rapid and unplanned urbanization, which has led to lifestyles characterized by unhealthy nutrition, reduced physical activity and tobacco consumption.1 These unhealthy lifestyles are associated with common modifiable risk factors for chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidaemia and obesity.2
So the World Health Organization admits that in India, urbanization – which is the forcing of peasants and farmers off their land due to market forces, such as debt and unemployment, is causing health problems. But urbanization is caused by trade liberalization, and a devaluing of the agricultural sector. Urbanization has happened because high agricultural input costs for pesticides, fertilizers, tractors, patented seeds, etc. have creating spiraling indebtedness and land has been reprocessed -water tables have lowered, or water is unavailable -once fertile land is now ruined – soaked in chemicals and stripped of life and finally billboards blasting the youth with images of urban sexy-sleek living is luring able bodies from the fields. And, why would they want to stay? The government has cut back subsidies and support to the agriculture sector, and international competition has lowered the price the farmer can get for their food to demeaning levels.
Ultimately, this means there is a problem with the glowing promises of the foundations who state they are solving the problem of an imagined future of starvation, but in truth the solution is creating more problems, so the corporations still have to solve the problem. There appears to be an endless supply of future profit! Yet, to a lay person, their also appears to be crack in the facade!
The World Health Organization continues:
“It is expected that by 2020 in developing countries, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) will account for 69% of all deaths, with cardiovascular diseases in the lead.3 The prevalence of diabetes mellitus will almost double in the next 25 years and at least 75% of those affected will be in developing countries. The burden of disease will be worse in these countries, as the majority of sufferers are expected to be relatively young, of lower socioeconomic status and to suffer from severe disease of premature onset.4”
OBSERVATION REVEALS A STORY IS A STORY
If one observes the last 45 years since the Green Revolution began, and drops the ideology taught through the media, and through biotechnology and agricultural university curriculum, one can piece together the truth of what has happened. Observe and remember.
In the book Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken’s explains the differences between observation and ideology. He explains it in the context of a new movement that has sprung up in response to what its observed. This movement includes millions of N.G.Os and non-profits springing up around the globe to combat the ravages of globalization, human rights atrocities, environmental destruction etc. Included in this movement is the organic, sustainable, non-gmo, natural farming groups.
“One of the differences between the bottom-up movement now erupting around the world and established ideologies is that the movement develops its ideas based on observation, where as ideologies act on the basis of belief or theory, the same distinction that separated evolution from creationism.”
“The movement doesn’t attempt to disprove capitalism, globalization or religion fundamentalism, but tries to make sense of what it discovers in forest, favalas, farms rivers, and cities. Are ideologues in the movement? To be sure, but fundamentally the movement is from the part of humanity which has assumed the task of protecting and saving itself. If we accept that the metaphor of an organism can be applied to humankind, we can image in a collective movement that would protect repair and restore that organisms capacity to endure when threatened. If so, that capacity to respond would function like an immune system, which operates independently of an individual persons intent.”
“Specifically the shared activity of hundreds of thousands of nonprofit organizations can be seen as humanities immune response to toxins like political corruption, economic disease and ecological degradation.”
Try some observation yourself. Ask yourself the following: Am I healthier now than I was ten years ago? Is any member of my family on prescriptions or overweight? How many people do I know who have cancer or have died from a heart attack? Is there more environmental pollution? Are there more homeless in the cities? Am I fulfilled with the work that I do? Is my water safe to drink? Does my food have chemicals? preservatives? What are the brands of food I eat? Where does my food come from? Does anyone I know smoke? Is someone in my family addicted to drugs or alcohol? Are there more birds? Is there more trash in the streets?
As mentioned before, the selling of a social myth, on a wide-scale is possible through the advent of the television. Television does not make for watchful observers! Why does pharmaceutical companies advertise on television when its your doctor who can decide your access to such medicine? Simple, it’s auto suggesting a disease, that you might think you have. Repeat the story long enough and you will manifest it. Are you depressed? having trouble sleeping? Stressed out? Television repeats ideologies, with no room for us to insert our experience or opinion. The felt sense of immediate experience, our experience – our direct observation, is the only way to really know, is it true? If we operated from this informing our choices, how would the world look?
Dr. Vinod Verma, who has written eighteen books on Ayurveda, Yoga and is a neurobiologist from Paris University. She has also worked in a pharmaceutical company in Germany. She writes regarding the western influence of Indian agriculture,
“Until about fifteen yeas after the independence of India, the above-described wisdom (cyclical crops, natural pesticides, planting with astrological cycles) was part of the school curriculum. However the policy makers of independent India ignored the indigenous wisdom and followed the West blindly. Many centuries of foreign rule was enough to make the English speaking Indian elite slavish in their mentality. However, the Indian farmer was very wise and it is well known that the farmers always kept a piece of land for themselves where they did not use urea or chemical pesticides. They used the traditional Indian methods to grow food for themselves. Not that they knew the destructive effects of the chemicals they were cajoled into using, it was simple a question of taste and flavor for them.”
“Gradually, we lost the great tradition of our natural way of farming an took to the unnatural and harsh ways from the West. Of course it was the vested interest of the West to find a market for their products in our big and highly populated country. we cannot blame the est but our own foolishness to ignore our indigenous wisdom, which is now sought after by the whole world. Humanity as a whole has realized that destroying nature means destroying life on our globe.”
Activist, and an analyst of the impact of the global economy on cultures and agriculture worldwide, Helena Norberg Hodge describes the changes she witnessed in Ladkhi people in India from 1970 to present day. Ladakh is a present day example of what happens when you push -industrial consumerism on top of natural conservation. A similar situation plays out in all native, indigenous, pantheistic, subsistence, first peoples nations globally.
“When I first arrived in Leh, the capital of 5,000 inhabitants, cows were the most likely cause of congestion and the air was crystal clear. Within five minutes’ walk in any direction from the town centre were barley fields, dotted with large farmhouses. For the next twenty years I watched Leh turn into an urban sprawl. The streets became choked with traffic, and the air tasted of diesel fumes. ‘Housing colonies’ of soulless, cement boxes spread into the dusty desert. The once pristine streams became polluted, the water undrinkable. For the first time, there were homeless people. The increased economic pressures led to unemployment and competition. Within a few years, friction between different communities appeared. All of these things had not existed for the previous 500 years.”
If we are willing to apply the ideology that India can’t feed her people without the help of GMO and chemical agriculture, perhaps to be objective we should also look at the consequences of what has happened since the implementation of that ideology. On a state by state macro level, these changes range from lowering yeilds after the initial peak, fallow lands, polluted water ways, loss of biodiversity, displacement of the small farm from the center of the community, loss of holistic nutrition, escalating debt, privatization of resources and the list continues. If we rely on observation, we have only to look at examples like Ladakh to see that India has been able to feed her people.
The changes in Ladakh pre 1970s to now gives us an excellent example of how the problem of feeding India is not actually an issue of adopting new technologies, rather, it is an example of the negative side effects of industrial development in relationship to agricultural self-sufficiency and a political failure to respond to the negatives. Who gets the profit and who is exploited? In the case of Leh, self-sufficiency was replaced with Tata transports carrying branded and packaged foods, Coca Cola and cigarettes, denatured wheat, and a slew of consumerables, soon to be followed by tourists.
One can argue that Ladakh has a very sparse population in relationship to Mumbai, so therefore another system will have to be put in place to meet this challenge. As it is true that 21,000 people per square kilometer such as the case in Mumbai presents extreme challenges, the principles remain the same. If urbanization is failing, encouraging the agricultural sector on the outsides to be vibrant, self-sustaining, environmentally friendly and productive for the long term makes more sense than increasing the urban population, displacing the farmers, and ignoring the fact that the population is going to grow. Urban gardening initiatives, roof top gardening, school and kitchen gardens, natueco methods, seed saving, community supported agriculture, city planning that includes arable land for farming at its center, hydroponics, public community gardens instead of another high rise for foreign investors, the introduction of microlivestock, verticle gardening, and the list goes on and on are all apossiblity if the blockage created by the story of how India can’t feed her people without chemicals and gmo, is removed.
The story and those believing it, is the only thing keeping the patriarchial Manifest Destiny domination paradigm in power. We, you and me, are the ones we’ve been waiting for. There is more power in our choices than you could ever imagine. There is more intelligence in a seed, and more energy in the free gift of the sun than ever can be replicated in a laboratory. All that is nature, was given to us for FREE, as a natural right. Believing otherwise makes nature and ourselves exploitable.
If a community is confused and lacking a far reaching vision, look to success stories like Auroville, Kodaikanal farm in Tamil Nadu, the Khet Virasat Mission in Fardikot, Navdanya, Timbuktu Organics, Shri S.A. Dabholkar, the Biogas plant at Srirangapatna in Karnataka, and thousands more. The answers to can India feed her people are there, and repeatable.
“John Maynard Keynes cautioned that we live our lives under the illusion of freedom, but likely to be slaves to some defunct economist. Even that description understates the problem. The world may be caged by a defect of the entire economic profession, namely the idea that we can asses value in banknotes, or that we can understand our relationship to the material world using an abstract metric rather than a biological one. The extraordinary advances made by Western societies will , in the end, be subservient to the land and what it can provide and teach. There are no economies of scale; there is only natures economy. We cannot turn back the clock, or return to any prior state on the planet, but we will never know ourselves until we know where we are on this land. There is no reason that we cannot build an exquisitely designed economy that matches biology in its diversity and integrates complexity rather than extinguishing it. In accomplishing this, there is much to be gained from those who have not forgotten the land. ” (Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest pg. 100)
None of these changes can occur under the amensia of the present myth. A new story must be told, one that includes a future, – a future free of any style of Manifest Destiny, where a priveldged few rule an overpowering mass of people
Indian rural reporter P. Sainath wrote,
“Every freedom fighter of repute doubled as a journalist, informing the public. Speaking for myself, I will not cede this high ground; it is extremely important that mainstream journalism include the true stories of India.”
Palagummi Sainath | Indian Journalist
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