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ASHA Kisan Swaraj
27
Oct

October 26th 2010: Yatra enters the state of Pondicherry & urges the CM to declare a GM-Free state; Interacts with farmers and consumers of Tiruvannamalai who resolve to save farmers’ resources

After an evening meeting with Chennai’ites the earlier day and a sumptuous millets-based dinner the earlier night, we started early on October 26th to reach Tiruvannamalai by 11 am for an interactive session with scores of farmers. For the first time in this Yatra, an overwhelming majority of farmers in any meeting said that they would like to continue in farming.

Here, the Yatris met some wonderful people – a bus driver, “Maram” (‘Tree’) Karunanidhi who has been planting thousands of saplings over the years; Venkatachalam, an octogenarian seed conserver who had conserved dozens of seed varieties out of which nearly 30 varieties were displayed for today’s event; Badri Narayanan, who owns a sweets shop doing organic farming; Kalasapakkam Meenakshisundaram, a retired electricity department employee who is into organic farming and traditional seed conservation, Bava. Chelladurai, a writer from the ‘Murpokku Ezhuthalar Sangam’, a couple taking up afforestation on a denuded tract of land (Arun & Poornima) and so on. Many women farmers representing Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective, fighting for women’s rights including women’s farmers’ rights were also present.

It was very obvious that ecological farming has been found viable and profitable by many present there. It was also obvious that everyone present understood the threat to Indian farming and food from agri-corporations, particularly in the sector of seeds. A few hands went up when we wanted to know if anyone would like to join the Delhi event on December 11th. They said it was too far away and were not too sure if they can come all the way to Rajghat. However, an alternative was proposed – that on December 11th, local people take up a solidarity event right here in Tiruvannamalai even as hundreds of farmers and consumers reach Delhi. All hands in the room went up with great enthusiasm for this proposal.

Our hosts in Tiruvannamalai packed a delicious meal for us to be had in the bus as we traveled to the next location – Puducherry.

Here, a delegation of around 15 persons including many local people went and met the Chief Minister of Puducherry, to urge him to declare Pondicherry as a GM-Free state. We pointed out that while the four South Indian states took a clear stance against Bt Brinjal approval earlier this year, Puducherry has remained notably silent on the issue. We argued that this is a state where alternatives related to sustainable development were well developed and that the state should therefore take a lead in taking up ecological farming as an official policy for Puducherry. The Chief Minister assured the delegation that he would certainly look into the matter.

The day ended with a public meeting in a prominent square of Puducherry, next to Singaravelar Statue. One side of the road was blocked and kept aside for this meeting, attended by more than 150 persons, most of whom were women farmers. At least 15 speakers from the area used the platform created by the Kisan Swaraj Yatra to emphasise on the need for self-reliant, ecological farming and to protect Indian farming from corporate takeover.

We found one more location resolving to lend its solidarity to the cause of Kisan Swaraj by wanting to organize an event locally on December 11th even as hundreds of others plan to congregate at the Rajghat on that day.

Many of us spent the unusual early evening left to us by walking on the Pondy beachfront, enjoying the gentle moonlight on the choppy seas.Here, the Yatris met some wonderful people – a bus driver, “Maram” (‘Tree’) Karunanidhi who has been planting thousands of saplings over the years; Venkatachalam, an octogenarian seed conserver who had conserved dozens of seed varieties out of which nearly 30 varieties were displayed for today’s event; Badri Narayanan, who owns a sweets shop doing organic farming; Kalasapakkam Meenakshisundaram, a retired electricity department employee who is into organic farming and traditional seed conservation, Bava. Chelladurai, a writer from the ‘Murpokku Ezhuthalar Sangam’, a couple taking up afforestation on a denuded tract of land (Arun & Poornima) and so on. Many women farmers representing Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective, fighting for women’s rights including women’s farmers’ rights were also present.

It was very obvious that ecological farming has been found viable and profitable by many present there. It was also obvious that everyone present understood the threat to Indian farming and food from agri-corporations, particularly in the sector of seeds. A few hands went up when we wanted to know if anyone would like to join the Delhi event on December 11th. They said it was too far away and were not too sure if they can come all the way to Rajghat. However, an alternative was proposed – that on December 11th, local people take up a solidarity event right here in Tiruvannamalai even as hundreds of farmers and consumers reach Delhi. All hands in the room went up with great enthusiasm for this proposal.

Our hosts in Tiruvannamalai packed a delicious meal for us to be had in the bus as we traveled to the next location – Puducherry.

Here, a delegation of around 15 persons including many local people went and met the Chief Minister of Puducherry, to urge him to declare Pondicherry as a GM-Free state. We pointed out that while the four South Indian states took a clear stance against Bt Brinjal approval earlier this year, Puducherry has remained notably silent on the issue. We argued that this is a state where alternatives related to sustainable development were well developed and that the state should therefore take a lead in taking up ecological farming as an official policy for Puducherry. The Chief Minister assured the delegation that he would certainly look into the matter.

The day ended with a public meeting in a prominent square of Puducherry, next to Singaravelar Statue. One side of the road was blocked and kept aside for this meeting, attended by more than 150 persons, most of whom were women farmers. At least 15 speakers from the area used the platform created by the Kisan Swaraj Yatra to emphasise on the need for self-reliant, ecological farming and to protect Indian farming from corporate takeover.

We found one more location resolving to lend its solidarity to the cause of Kisan Swaraj by wanting to organize an event locally on December 11th even as hundreds of others plan to congregate at the Rajghat on that day.

Many of us spent the unusual early evening left to us by walking on the Pondy beachfront, enjoying the gentle moonlight on the choppy seas.

1 Response

  1. In Pondicherry a large number of civil society organizations have gathered together to welcome the Yatra. This included Pondicherry Science Forum, Confederation of Govt Employees Associations, INSAF, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Murpokku Ezhuthalargal Sangam, Puduvai Iyarkai Vivasayigal Sangam which were some of the very active groups.

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