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<nettime> caravan
Siraj Izhar (by way of Josephine Berry <josie {AT} metamute.com>) on Tue, 4 May 1999 19:11:10 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> caravan


Agriculture in the 'Third World', the
KRRS, caravan in europe

500 angry peasants on the road to the power
centres of the world

Activists from India and Europe are
preparing for a month long tour of Europe.
Around 500 Indian peasants feel that is
high time that their problems in wealthy
Europe are made known. Multinationals, and
the liberalising measures of the World
Trade Organisation WTO in particular,
constitue a huge threat to their current
income, way of life and natural
surroundings.

The Indian peasants want to protest against
multinationals and 'free trade'
institutions, and plan to do so (to name
but two occasions) during the European
summit and the G8 summit that are to take
place in Cologne in June.

The initiator of the caravan is the KRRS
(Karnataka Raiya Ryota Sanghe), based in
the South Indian federal state of
Karnataka. The KRRS has an impressive
history and is reknowing for its radical
campaings against multinationals. The
globally active peasant organisation Via
Campesina and People's Global Action are
both supporters of the caravan.

The Indian peasants wanted to take part in
the protest, held in Geneva in Mai 1998, in
connection with the the fifthiest
anniversary of the free trade organisations
GATT and WTO. However it proved impossible
for them to acquire visas in time, in May
1999, the 500 Indian peasants will finally
arrive on European soil. They will form a
caravan of twenty buses and tour eight
countries in one month. Beside these from
India, activists from other continents will
also be joining the actions.

top, agriculture in the 'Third World', the
KRRS, caravan in europe

Agriculture in the 'Third World'

The peasants are coming to Europe in order
to meet people and to relate how the
so-called 'free'-market economy is
negatively affecting their own lives and
the lives of the millions of peasants in
developing nations. The WTO does not allow
third world countries to safeguard their
economies against unfair competition and
unwanted products. Under pressure from the
WTO, laws are made in India granting
multinationals power over seeds, even seeds
that have always been used by the peasants.
The peasants strongly are against this. "We
are the original growers of the seed and we
will not cooperate with the execution of
laws that deny us our inalienable rights to
the seed". Patents on animals and plants
are rejected by the peasants anyway,
because it is immoral and goes against
their traditions.

By means of the caravan, the peasants hope
to make it clear that the free market
ideology constitutes a dead end road: it is
the number one cause of poverty and the
destruction of nature on earth. Yet
politicians claim it to the enormous amout
of problems facing humanity nowaydays. The
peasants would like to see us unite all
over the world to put the economy at the
service of the needs of people, while at
the same time respecting nature.

top, agriculture in the 'Third World', the
KRRS, caravan in europe

The KRRS

The 500 angry peasants who are coming to
Europe are, for the most part, members of
the organisation KRRS (Karnataka Raiya
Ryota Sanghe) which is based in the South
Indian federal state of Karnataka. In
Karnataka, of the 60 million inhabitants,
between 5 and 10 million are members of the
KRRS. Usually, whole villages join, which
is why the exact number of members is
unclear. Members are usually smallholders
and leasehold-farmers, but many are also
agricultural labourers owing no land of
their own.

actions
The KRRS has organised various spectacular
action in recent years: the 'dismantling',
with bare hands, of Cargill, amultinational
trading in wheat and seed, the 'disabling'
of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in
India; and a demonstration against the WTO
involving 300,000 people. Regular protests
are held at village and district level
against corrupt politicians and civil
servants.

alternatives
At the end of May 1995, the KRRS, together
with The Third World Network (an umbrella
organisation of environmental groups from
the third world), established an
International Institute for Sustainable
Agriculture in Bangelore. The Institute
provides training programmes for farmers
who want to switch to biological
agriculture and helps with the gathering
indigenous seeds, the founding of local
seed banks and the reintroduction of
traditional breeds of plants.

strategy
According to the philosophy of the KRRS,
direct action is necessary in order to
facilitate changes. Nanjundaswamy, the
current KRRS president, regards the WTO
policy as a new form of colonialism. He
feels direct action is the only way and has
no trust in political parties because none
of them want, or dare, to undertake any
form of action which attacks the the WTO
and multinationals.

decentralised organisation
The organisation and mobilisation for
protests takes place at village, taluk (a
couple of dozen villages), district and
federal state level. Each village elects a
secretary and a president from its midst.
These chosen representatives meet each
other at taluk and district level. From
among them, a kind of executive committee
is elected. At a national level, the KRRS
forms a part of the umbrella organisation
All India People's Resistance Forum
(AIPRF), consisting of about 50 Indian mass
organisations. Together, these
organisations are calling for their
government to step out of the WTO and to
deny multinationals that misuse the Indian
natural resources the right to land.

There's a chapter about the KRRS whith more
information.

top, agriculture in the 'Third World', the
KRRS, caravan in europe

Caravan in Europe

During an international seminar about
globalisation and resistance, that was held
in Geneva, between 16 and 31 August, the
proposal for the May/June 1999 caravan was
presented. The participants, activists from
around 17 countries, reacted with
enthusiasm. Information evenings in the
Netherlands and other countries have also
proved that many people think that the
project is a good idea. In the mean time,
welcoming committees have been established.
The Dutch committee is already hard at
work. A European committee is acting as
coordinator and keeps in touch with the
KRRS.

The caravan will commence on 22 May in the
Netherlands and end on 22 June in Cologne.
The idea is that, in each country, the
Indian peasants will have time for
effecting direct action in the form of
attention-grabbing protest, taking part in
public meetings, press conferences and
meetings with farmers organisations and
having some rest and relaxation. Link to
the program page

Goals of the caravan

The peasants are coming to Europe for the
following reasons:

   * to confront people in the countries
     they visit with the consequences of
     economic globalisation. The Welcoming
     committee wants to involve as many
     people from different backgrounds in
     the organisation and activities of the
     project.
   * to promote understanding and
     cooperation between the Indian
     peasants and European organisations
     like trade unions, environmental
     organisations and, of course, farmer
     organisations.
   * to attract the attention of local,
     national and international media to
     the disadvantages of free trade and to
     protest against the WTO.
   * to promote non-violent civil
     disobedience as a means of action for
     political change.
   * to effect mobilisation in order to
     hold decentralised mass actions and
     resistance during the next ministerial
     conference of the WTO which is to take
     place in Washington the autumn of
     1999.

Protest issues

The caravan will, in all cases devote
attention to the following issues. Listed
below, together with these issues, are a
number of possible protest venues.

   * The world's leading political
     organisations. Good occasions are the
     European Summit and the G8-meeting in
     Cologne. Good locations include: the
     WTO headquarters in Geneva; OECD in
     Paris; the European Commission and
     Parliament in Brussels and national
     parliaments.
   * Multinationals. Actions at various
     headquarters, lobby groups like the
     European Round Table of
     Industrialists, EuropaBio, World
     Economic Forum, and possibly at stock
     exchanges, banks and the European
     Central Bank.
   * Agro industries, Green Revolution,
     biotechnology, patents on life. For
     these issues protests could be held at
     FAO, the European Commission,
     EuropaBio, Monsanto, Novartis, Nestle,
     Unilever, Cargill and Bayer.
   * 'Third World' debt problems. With
     actions at the G8 meeting, at banks
     and at public institutions like
     ministries and parliaments.
   * Militarism and nuclear issues.
     Possible participation in a peace
     demonstration ending at the NATO
     headquarters in Brussels.

top, agriculture in the 'Third World', the
KRRS, caravan in europe

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