‘Bhopal gas tragedy exemplifies violence on nature’

first_img“Look! That’s Gandhi leading us,” says Rajagopal P.V., striding steadfast along with a band of 50 padyatris, Indians and others from 10 countries, with a mission to reach Geneva before October 2, 2020. “We’re collecting case studies from the grassroots to present them to the United Nations, to evolve an alternative development model,” he says, unfazed by the sun or the traffic in old Bhopal on Tuesday. The Jai Jagat yatra, a global peace march, continues from the Union Carbide factory in the city. Leading from the front is a woman deftly balancing on her head a pot carrying soil taken from Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi.“The Bhopal gas tragedy is an example of violence on nature in the name of development. We’ll take it up with the United Nations, to tell them unless they reconsider this model, nothing will change,” says Mr. Rajagopal, a Gandhian and a founding member of the Ekta Parishad, and among the organisers of the march.Traversing 12 countries, including India, Iran, Armenia, Serbia, Italy and Switzerland, over 12 months, the band will meet international institutes like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation to highlight grassroots issues, best practices exemplifying the blend of non-violence and sustainability, and attempt to chalk out ways to integrate local economies with the global economy. “The present development model is profit-oriented wherein decisions are taken by a few powerful corporations along with governments in an anti-people, unsustainable way,” says Jill Carr-Harris, international coordinator for the march, flagged off in New Delhi on October 2, heading down south. “This has caused violence locally. We’re focusing on finding ways to change this paradigm.”Marking Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary year, the march, she says, will dwell on ways a non-violent economy could be sustained using his principles. “We are setting up an online platform to document micro examples to substantiate a policy change. We’re trying to establish the link between the local and the global.”Besides, the targets of eradicating poverty, eliminating social exclusion, ameliorating the climate crisis and halting conflict and violence, all drawn from the UN’s sustainable development goals, drive the march, says Mr. RajagopalTravelling in the northern States has also unravelled an intriguing trove of issues for them. “We have come across issues of tribals, pastoral communities, land alienation, poverty and starvation. These issues are spurring us to march ahead,” says Ms. Jill. Paying tribute to Abdul Jabbar, who worked for the tragedy’s survivors, she says, “We respect his hard work as these issues have to be known by others. His death is an example of how this development model affects the grassroots. Since 1984, enormous struggle and activism have attempted to take their story to the world.”last_img

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