Speech by Medha Patkar: nexus between globaisation,consumerism and exploitation
Duration: 00:10:25; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 98.899; Saturation: 0.080; Lightness: 0.193; Volume: 0.153; Cuts per Minute: 3.643; Words per Minute: 116.579
Summary: Medha Patkar, renowned social activist, and founder of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People's Movements, delivers a speech at a meeting of the Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal. Her talk covers the need to analyse urban consumption habits in an attempt to prevent wastage, discussing the need for awareness among consumers about how the poor are being exploited in the capitalist consumerist scenario. In this manner, she suggests that the underlying ideology behind violence and exploitation of all kind is greed. And to change this trend, the people need to be educated about the politics of globalisation, and its complicity in the inevitable destruction of indigenous enterprises. She concludes by expressing her opinion that a shift from consumer culture to simple living will go a long way in ending this cycle of exploitation and violence.
MP: The water, jungles and each tree and shrub of the village communities... Similarly, it's taking a very vikrut
(perverted) direction. In such a situation, a quest to develop a direct connection with production is being born in the millions of people living in cities. For a long time, talks have been going on about the consumer and producer heritage. The direct relationship that should bind the producer and the consumer, and the medium, platform and the procedures to achieve this need to be established.
Medha Patkar, a social activist, founder of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People's Movements, talks about a need to connect the urban consumers to the producers.
Related Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medha_Patkar
MP: I just saw a play titled Abhishaap
(curse) in Jargaon, it was about Narmada. But I was telling you that when a young woman or a young man from the city realise what products are available to them - they are available to us too - but in the whole procedure through which those things reach them and are accepted and used by them, who are the people whose means of living are being taken from them. And how come the voices of these people, shouting to be heard, from the mountains and the rivers, haven't reached them as yet. The market is not just taking a toll on life, but the products that come out of this same market are quite harmful too. People from the cities are aware of this, and the sensitive and thoughtful people like us, people like you, scrutinise the products, questioning whether this is leading, or will lead to the exploitation of someone.
Medha discusses the urban population's growing awareness of the exploitation involved in the production process of consumer products.
MP: What is the need for sangharshsheel
activists here? To prevent this question from arising in anyone's mind, it is necessary to say that all the people present here are part of our family. The inspiration behind this center is such, whether it is of the Friendship Center of the Mumbai Sarvaodaya Mandal and of the individuals associated with it, because of this and together with it, the centers of production - whether something comes from _______ or Kerala, whether it comes from Andhra Pradesh, or Uttar Pradesh, or from some river, or valley, it is still connected with the toil, dedication and progressive thinking. And I feel that even by starting from a small center, we can develop it to create a bigger effect. And this is why the people who are carving out a new option and putting it before us, these people are 'for' Desi
(indigenous) egalitarianism and decentralisation. Without this, the next perverted step, or ambition of centralisation will be towards globalisation and anudarikaran
(liberalisation). People are working towards decentralisation too, by raising important questions about everything from the WTO to the centralised working of this country. And to achieve this goal, they are treading forward by doing whatever they can in their capacity and strength. They are moving forward by using their platforms, their organisations, their movements and their work. And though their work is creative and developmental, it is also very important that their work should have an aspect of a people's movement in it.
Mumbai Sarvaodaya Mandal
She says that there is a need for activists to create awareness about a faulty developmental paradigm, that advocates globalisation and centralisation, by using various platforms to question it.
MP: The general effect it has is also very important. Because we don't believe that developmental work doesn't pressurise like ongoing struggles do. And if ongoing struggles stop destruction or perversion, then that is nakaratmak
(negative), and we don't know if any sakaratmak
(positive) work can continue without them.
MP: The absence of exploitation, and the experience, and importance of freedom are the most important things in these resolutions of law that have been made. And the injustice, struggle and exploitation that have been continuing can be stopped with this, or else not; with communalism, casteism, racism and sexism that exist today because of this. People need to look at this as a mulya
(value), the world is moving towards an ideology of greed. And people are willing to go to the extent of conspiring to destroy each other in order to satisfy their greed. And violence is the basis of this ideology. And this violence is used by people who want to get what they want, not by believing in themselves, but by depriving others of it.
This is the fundamental reason behind all kinds of violence and wars happening today. If we want to pitch the powers of non-violence in the way of this violence, then, according to me, it will become very important to create a belief in the values of egalitarianism and justice. And this belief needs to be created in people right from childhood. Mediums like the television put terrorism across to us as if it's a normal part of our life. They put these things across to us as if our ways of living are decided solely by that.
Medha suggests ways in which to challenge the cycle of violence the contemporary world seems to have fallen into.
MP: It is important to create alternative mediums that override the kind of image that they are presenting. And if we commence this process by starting with the small schools that children attend, only then will we be able to get them closer to nature and humanity. The introduction of children to a unique kind of justice will be dependent on this. They don't think that the objects that they use in life and other consumerist issues have their root in exploitation. For example, drinking Pepsi means destroying the employment opportunities of thousands of people. The people who sell nimbu sharbat
, and coconut water have been vanquished by Pepsi and Cola. And this is not a war between Pepsi and Cola, this is a war between Pepsi and nimbu sharbat
. These products are not refreshing and they don't have any special function as such, but because of advertisements and the effect of the markets, the people develop this mentality. And in this we forget that there are other options available that are not just healthier and environmental friendly, but also lead to an exploitation free society.
Medha discusses the economic exploitation implicit in everyday consumerism.
MP: Whether it's about using khadi
handloom, or handmade slippers, or about living a simple life... For example, energy, no matter how much diesel and petrol we consume, or if we leave the lights on and leave, or if we let the tap water run while we brush our teeth - the world would change if each customer, or consumer realises that in doing all these things, we are wastefully and blindly using things that we've stolen from others.
Medha suggests that perhaps a lack of general awareness causes the extreme wastefulness, and economic disparity that has currently come to be so closely associated with globalised consumerism.
MP: Otherwise we forget the exploitation that is hidden in it, which has a certain violence against the poor, against the people who live with nature, the tribals, the farmers, the labourers; we forget about the violence occurring against them, all we can see is Laden on one side and Bush on the other. What's the point of choosing between these two terrorists? We don't want to choose any of them. If we have to choose between a certain kind of terrorism of markets and trade of weapons, nuclear weaponisation or war, it is important to look at all forms of terrorism as one. And between peace, love, simplicity and self-dependence on the other hand, an egalitarian and nyayavaadi
society, free from exploitation; if we have to choose between them, then a human who believes in humanity will always choose the latter. His choice will be in favour of men and nature.
Medha suggests that we look closer to home for certain forms of terrorism, rather than becoming embroiled in a war that has terrorism implicit on both ends.