Thursday, October 27, 2016

Post Sarson Satyagraha, message from organizing team

This network, thanks to some folks who take a lead here (often times invisibly), is a network that walks its talks as much as possible. In the Sarson Satyagraha event, thanks to a great volunteer in the form of Ajay Etikala (who slept in a kitchen which dished out the food on the day of the event, receiving organic food supplies all night from different places), and thanks to Jaya Iyer putting us in touch with a street children's home called Butterflies, with Ananthoo taking a capable lead as usual, there was nutritious khichdi that was served to 1500 people with all ingredients being organic and packaging that is environmental friendly - even the spoons were wooden. We were also able to support Butterflies with an extra five thousand rupees for the great support that they lent us, so that in the process of our GM mustard protest, we also collectively support the protection and development of street children of Butterflies. I heard most people including Kapil Mishra of Delhi Government admire the taste and quality of food given. This is not the first time we have dished out organic food in our events including large events and this is something that all of us should carry forward as a regular feature in everything that we do locally too, and not just wait for Indian railways or someone else to introduce organic food in their systems. This is something that civil society itself has to imbibe.

I also want to place on record the wonderful contribution in the form organic rice and dal that Kheti Virasat Mission made....from the time the Kudrati Kisan Haats have begun, this is one movement which has been able to take care of the real dearth of organic supplies support that exists in Delhi, with most existing players providing at somewhat expensive rates. Thank you, Umendra ji and team, including the ones in Jalandhar and other cities.

As many of you would have noticed, we have a no-flex policy, no plastics policy in our events, including large gatherings. This was followed this time too. We had Naresh ji having to redesign the stage backdrop in the middle of a night to suit the limitation that canvas printing has, of the width being only 5 feet long, for any backdrop. We had Maneesh ji support the actual printing.

I also want to take the opportunity of this mail being sent to apologise profusely for the little hiccups in various arrangements and for any hardships faced. Most importantly, for the fact that many team leaders who have been working tirelessly in creating awareness on food safety and farm sustainability amongst farmers and consumers not being able to speak from the stage. We were overwhelmed by the number of different organisations that turned up to extend solidarity and there were numerous unexpected speeches and plays. Am sorry that key people could not speak. I am saying all of this on behalf of a set of organisers who worked very very hard in terms of bringing out last minute publications, to arrange logistics, to finalise memorandums to different ministers and PM, to take up media outreach work and put out press releases, for the video and photo volunteers etc. etc. Special thanks to Greenpeace India which contributed in so many different ways. 

Just to update you all a bit: Apart from representatives of different groups from 20 states, and all major farmer unions of the country, from trade unions and people's movements, there were the following political parties represented: AAP, Congress, CPM, CPI, DMK, JDU. We were able to reach out to BJD MPs also - it is just that they could not come to the event. 

We tried to send different delegations to at least 6 Ministries: PMO, Agriculture, Environment, Health, Women & Child Development and Commerce. 

Teams did meet Radhamohan Singh and Maneka Gandhi and shared our concerns. One team that went to Environment Ministry shared material with the Minister's Secretary. However, despite trying very hard on the day of the event and several times yesterday too, that too with the sensitive support lent by Parliament Street Police Station officials who were very supportive and cooperative with everything, a possible meeting with at least a Joint Secretary in the PMO did not materialise. 

All in all, resistance registered clearly and strongly, I would say. 

Several of you donated generously for this event and we will be putting out the statement of expenses soon. 

As you all can see, the debate is live and strong - in the judiciary, in the parliament, in the states, in the media and amongst the citizens. Let us continue the collective good work to save our farms, farmers and environment and all citizens from the menace of GMOs, agri-chemicals and profiteering corporations. 

Thank you all once again.

Kavitha, on behalf of all the organisers of Sarson Satyagraha  
Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)

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