Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ask yourselves "What does my heart say about Koodankulam? What do I smell there?"

Twelve years ago, I hopped buses and backpacked rural India. That was my first ever experience of Indian villages.

I carried two books introduced to me at that time – Kumarappa’s ‘Economy of Permanence’ and Schumacher’s ‘Small is Beautiful’ and read them during my travels. They were both written by, who I call, intuitive economists.

I saw numerous small water harvesting structures that had changed the face of villages. It felt so right! Soon after, the government introduced the grand scheme of Interlinking Rivers (ILR) involving thousands of crores of rupees, humungous structures (dams and canals) and big powerful corporations. The entire country of “patriotic” Indians was easily convinced that it was a great idea. Though I didn’t have the data to support it, I knew crystal clearly that it was a recipe for disaster. I jumped headlong into a campaign to prove why it was one. I spent many months pouring over documents, letters and reports to pull out all the possible information to prove it beyond any doubt. My first article in Kalachuvadu, where I made a strong case against ILR got a terrific response. Here’s another article in rediff that I wrote exposing the scam.   

During my travel was my first introduction to natural farming too. It felt so right! Diversity and harmony feel so right in any context. They are life’s ways. Even with absolutely no information to back my conviction, I knew that that was the way to go. But when I talked about it to people, I was asked a hundred questions about this historical event and that. People would throw at me statistics and anecdotes to tell me why Green Revolution (GR) was indeed a necessary evil at that time. I didn’t have a single response to any of them except “Well, but it does not feel right!” Now, who’d take that for an answer from an activist? They called me 'naive'. That is how I set out with a mad zeal to collect information to write the series of data-intensive articles which then grew into the book.

The Universe helped me keep my interest and rigor alive for over eight years until I made a rather fool-proof argument for natural farming debunking industrial agriculture; for why GR was not an ‘innocent mistake’. It was a well-planned program, which involved violence in many forms - manipulation, threat, betrayal and mass murder. I didn’t rest until every question that I had ever been asked was answered with evidence. And it took a lot of my mental space, time, energy and resources of all sorts to do that.

I have spent a decade collecting all sorts of data to debunk this project and that. It had its use. It had a role to play. Like my good friend Nity’s brilliant writing about why Koodankulam is a disastrous project or Sripad Dharmadhikari’s exhaustive report exploding the myths about the Bhakra Nangal Dam. We have different groups of people researching and writing about different issues.

But for every head and tentacle of the industrial monster that we are slaying, we see many more erupting. How much energy and resources we expend to slay them one after another, while the monster itself seems to only keep growing in size and appetite. An industry here. A dam there. A thermal power plant here. A desalination plant there. An expressway here. A Bt Brinjal there. An endosulphan here. A Koodankulam there. The list is endless.. How many slayers are we going to bring on? Given that we don’t have much time left, should we not think of other ways to pacify and transmute the monster? For I have seen the slayers burn out with their repeated adrenaline highs and lows!

Most people have become numb to the stench of death and disease that our civilization is engulfed in. If we feed more brains with more facts and more numbers, they will ask for them again when the newspapers flash another sensational news about the next grand project proposal. Someone who has been forced to admit that a large dam is a disaster will ask the same set of questions about an upcoming incinerator. How do we sustain and grow the energies of the warriors?

Here is my proposal. While we keep up our firefighting, can we increasingly do the following?

1. UNDERSTAND PATTERNS
So many facts have been researched, exposed, written and talked about. So much and more to clearly show us all a pattern. Big projects are born out of greed for money. Corporations buy governments, fund educational institutions to direct their research, manipulate information and research "findings" to feed their greed. Corporations and Governments work hand in glove. They use their brute power to lie, cheat, destroy and murder ruthlessly. The poor never benefit. The rich always benefit. Nature erodes and suffers. There is always corruption. In fact, that is the very reason for these projects. It is this pattern that we now need to clearly understand and talk about. The politics of authoritarian technology, and the institutional structures that go with it. My book about the story of the Green Revolution is the story of every authoritarian technology on earth!

2. UNDERSTAND BRUTE POWER
With a clear understanding of the pattern, should go hand in hand, an understanding of the nature of brute power. If we employ the heart in understanding the true nature of brute power and its roots, it will perceive this: that brute power is the expression of the collective aggressiveness of our society full of terrified, traumatized, insecure, love-less and frustrated people. They wield it in a vain attempt to feel ‘powerful’.

3. UNDERSTAND HEALING OF THE HEART
Most such people have cold hearts that may be able to feel another’s pain. But rarely have I seen hearts that are easily able to perceive without outsourcing ‘understanding’ to the brain. I many times wonder if it could be because we, as children, were told that being good at maths was better valued (since it involves the brain) than being good at arts (since it involves the heart); that the rains were to be wished away; that playing in the soil and water were bad for us. I wonder if we have built thick but brittle armors around our pained hearts since our childhood to protect ourselves from hurt; the armors that prevent us from being able to feel and stay intuitive. 

Our society systematically destroys our abilities to perceive with our hearts. These stone hearts need to then soften and heal. These frozen hearts need to thaw and heal. They will then probably not demand numbers, statistics and facts to be convinced that Koodankulam is a horror story waiting to happen. We need to do this bearing love in our hearts! Because love alone has the power to undertake this work. 

It is not for fun or fame that these poor people
gathered outside for days. They gathered for their  

family's, community's and the planet's very survival. 
Then we can go around asking people to pause, suspend their ill-informed opinions and judgments, close their eyes, place their hands on their guts, take a deep breath and ask themselves “What do I feel about Koodankulam? What does my heart say about it? What do I smell there?” These new questions, how much ever they may be ridiculed initially, are the only ones that will help us birth a new consciousness. And a new consciousness alone can birth a new world. 

So, can we take a first step back from feeding our already over-fed, obese intellects and take a step towards awakening our collective intelligence?

Related articles

The Study of Miracles

Letting the Feminine lead the way

Stop reading. Start smelling. Start feeling it in your gut.

4 comments:

DevJ said...

Very powerfully written, Sangee.

artbeautysociety said...

Good one. Clear and impressive, the way you bring out facts.

sunder and sonati said...

Well said; and powerfully written. Indeed this privileging of mind over heart seems to be at the root of all our crises today.

koki said...

Powerful Sangee!! It just worries me that in needs a lot of inner work for people to believe in their HEARTS, to listen to that inner voice but people are so busy earning money to save for future. A future they dont realize is greatly threatened in ways where their money cant help.