Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from | @sacw
Home > Environment, Health and Social Justice > Citizens Groups Memo to Indian Prime Minister on Cochabama Conference

Citizens Groups Memo to Indian Prime Minister on Cochabama Conference

by, 15 April 2010

print version of this article print version


10th April 2010

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh,

We, the undersigned people’s organisations, social movements, trade unions, and concerned citizens of India, submit this Memorandum to you as the head of the Government of India to draw your attention to the Call and Invitation to the ‘Peoples’ World Conference On Climate Change And Mother Earth’s Rights’ to all Social Movements, Organisations and Governments, of the World by the Evo Morales Ayma - led social movement Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia; and to ask you to unequivocally respect and support this Call.

In the absence of any significant public position by your government so far on this extremely important initiative by a government of the global South, we write to you today, to demand that you now, without delay, go beyond political compulsions, technocratic understandings, and the polemics of ‘Climate Change’, and that you affirmatively respond to this Call and to the invitation extended to you by Sr. Evo Morales Ayma; and that the government of India take part in this Conference at the highest level.

We attach here for your convenience a copy of the Call and invitation issued by Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

You may recall that many mass organisations, trade unions, citizens groups and people’s movements had submitted a detailed Memorandum with demands and clear proposals to you and the GoI prior to the Copenhagen Summit, in order to raise our concerns, positions, and demands to you to represent the people of India and our interests at the Summit (We attach a copy of the Memorandum here, for your reference). On the one hand, we understand that the GoI subsequently took meaningful positions vis-à-vis placing demands on the developed world to reduce emissions, pay up, and not compare the emerging or the least developed worlds with itself; and that Indian government has also played an important role in bringing together the major emerging economies to form BASIC.

On the other hand however, when seen in terms of the concerns we had raised to you in our people’s Memorandum regarding the key issue of equity, the government of India’s position was also seen by many as ‘hiding behind the poor’. And the government of India’s position was easily exposed because of this very aspect and as a result, India could not play any substantive leadership role among those countries that have traditionally expected us to take a lead from within the developing world.

We therefore reiterate here our understanding that at this crucial juncture in world history, and given the profound crisis that climate change represents, India’s efforts should be focussed in taking the lead among and on behalf of the interests of the majority of the world’s nations – the least developed and the emerging economies - and not jockeying for a position among the club of elite nations. And that most fundamentally, the Indian position should be proactively addressing issues of equity – within countries and between countries.

We firmly believe that the economic and political issues of inequality and inequity, both within and between nations, grievously impact distribution and consumption and are at the core of the crisis of global warming and of responding meaningfully to it. The crisis is also about a few - both globally but also within countries and regions - usurping the rights and access of the vast majority of the disempowered over the commons – air, water, land, minerals, and forests. Unsustainable economic development and inequitable growth based on an economy dependent on the use of fossil-fuels and extractive industries — all of which have greatly intensified in the last 60 years — have led to the sharp rise in carbon emissions, way beyond what the Earth can absorb. The global annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have reached about 35 billion tonnes a year from the burning of coal, oil and gas, and from deforestation. This is much more than the net absorption capacity of the Earth, estimated to be 16-17 billion tonnes a year or roughly 2.5 tonnes per person, and which is also declining due to a gradual warming of the oceans.

It is in this context of a planetary crisis that we see an extraordinarily important opportunity in the Call sent out by the Bolivian Government, to host a summit that will deliberate not on the rights of human beings over the planet and its resources, but on the Rights of Mother Earth herself; and that will assert not the rights of governments and corporations over the planet and the resources it shares with us all but will deliberate on and forcefully assert the rights and responsibilities of humanity itself.

As you must surely know, this profound idea of a Mother Earth – here, articulated by the indigenous peoples of the Andean region of the Americas - is also deeply rooted in our own cultures of this region of the world, such as in the term dharati mata that is so widely respected and practised in their own ways both by Adivasis and by peasants in India. As we see it, we as humanity are therefore indeed already linked together across the planet – and indeed, bound together - by this fundamental concept; and it is our responsibility as human beings to at all times respect, protect, and promote this concept. We ask you, and your government, to pay heed to and adopt this concept.

At a time in history when every country and every negotiator is talking the technocratic language of ‘climate’, ‘carbon’ and ‘ppm’, it is vitally important to also acknowledge that it is only an indigenous community representative and a government led by such peoples that could have initiated a Call that so radically widens the perspective: To protect and nurture the Rights of Mother Earth herself. And we should have no doubt about what a fundamental challenge this Call poses to the rich nations and to their over-dependence on an unsustainable development paradigm.

We therefore urge the government of India to second this Call.

Beyond convening a Conference however, the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia has – in its Call - also put forward four vital instrumentalities for protecting and nurturing the Rights of Mother Earth :

· A Universal Declaration of Mother Earth’s Rights

· Proposals for new commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and projects for a COP Decision under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change

· The organisation of the Peoples’ World Referendum on Climate Change; and

· Developing an action plan to advance the establishment of a Climate Justice Tribunal;

aside from more generally defining strategies for action and mobilisation to defend life from Climate Change and to defend Mother Earth’s Rights.

Asking you to keep in mind that it was Bolivia that made the historic demand at the Bangkok preparatory meeting of COP prior to Copenhagen - that developed nations must now pay up for their historical debt, and that this was a demand that Indian Government supported at the Bangkok meeting, we demand today of the government of India that it unequivocally support the government of Bolivia’s proposals.

In this connection, we also however wish to make clear to you and to the Government of India that we consider it a gravely wrong and mistaken position by GoI that the failure that took place at Copenhagen works in the interest of countries like India (such as in the remarks made in the Lok Sabha by Mr. Jairam Ramesh, MoS (MoEF), that “the interest of developing countries like India remains protected in the decisions taken by the Conference of Parties at Copenhagen”). We believe that only a reversal or undoing of the harm already done by climate change at the earliest alone can serve the interests of the worst impacted peoples of the developing world – of whom we continue to be an integral part. We therefore demand that the Government of India must stand united with and protective of progressive efforts of other developing countries – such as Bolivia -, the G-77, the least developed countries (LDCs), and the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS).

In conclusion, we demand the Government of India join the Cochabamba Climate Conference and meaningfully participate in it at the highest levels. We have also specifically drawn your attention to the instrumentalities put forward by the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to demand that you and Indian Government specifically recognise, address, and support these instrumentalities. We believe that doing so will help build a new international alliance and global order – not only between nation-states but also, and primarily, among the peoples of this planet, and that this will moreover help us in India to review and revise our own unsustainable development trajectory of several decades – where we have so blindly followed the European and US American model of growth. It is glaringly evident that this model has, just as in Europe and North America, directly resulted in the massive over-exploitation of natural resources, the massive displacement of Adivasis and other forest dwellers, the intensified exploitation and continued pauperization of the urban labouring poor – all in the interests of the promotion of consumption by and production for rich. This is a present and a future that we surely now all know is totally unsustainable. It is therefore time that the Government of India stood up clearly and unequivocally for Mother Earth – for dharati mata –, and it can and must do so by unconditionally supporting the initiative that has been created by the Call issued by the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

Memorandum Signed by:

People’s Movements, Networks & Organisations

1. National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
2. National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)
3. National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF)
4. National Handloom Weavers’ Federation
5. National Hawker Federation (NHF)
6. Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)
7. National Domestic Workers Union
8. Programme for Social Action (PSA, India)
9. Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
10. Partners in Justice Concerns, India (PJC-I)
11. Narmada Bachao Andolan
12. Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee (JMACC)
13. Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU)
14. South India Handloom Weavers’ Organising Committee (SIHWOC)
15. Forum for Indigenous Perspectives and Action, Manipur
16. Matu Jan Sangattan, Uttarakhand
17. Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Himachal Pradesh
18. Nadi Ghatti Morcha, Chhattisgarh
19. BIRSA, Jharkhand
20. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai
21. South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP)
22. People’s Voice for Democratic Rights, Himachal Pradesh
23. Dynamic Action, Kerala
24. Equations, Bangalore
25. NAPM, Karnataka
26. Khan, Khaneej Aur Adhikar, Jharkhand
27. Critical Action Centre in Movements (CACIM), New Delhi
28. Vikalp, Uttar Pradesh
29. Vettiver Collective, Tamil Nadu
30. POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, Orissa
31. Niyamgiri Surakshya Manch, Orissa
32. Ma Mati Mahila Manch, Nayagarh, Orissa
33. Janaswarth Surakshya Parisad, Cuttack, Orissa
34. Lok Adhikar Manch, Bhubaneswar, Orissa
35. Centre for Sustainable-use of Natural and Social Resources, Bhubaneswar, Orissa
36. Orissa Human Rights Forum, Bhadrakh District,Orissa
37. Ganjam Jilla Adivasi Manch, Ganjam, Orissa
38. Center for Contemporary Studies & Research, Lucknow, UP
39. Samvedan Sanskritik Manch, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
40. LOK MANCH, Aurangabad, Bihar
41. DARSHAN, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
42. Center for Social Initiatives, Gorakhpur, UP
43. Friends, Varanasi, UP
44. Kisan Morcha, Bikaner, Rajasthan
45. IFFTU, Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan
46. Arya Bheel Khand Rajya Morcha, Udaipur, Rajasthan
47. Matsya Mewat Shiksha Vikas Sansthan (MMSVS), Alwar, Rajasthan
48. Dalit Sena, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
49. KDRF, Bharatpur, Rajasthan
50. Youth Front, Pali, Rajasthan
51. Mahila Morcha, Banswara, Rajasthan
52. Chetna Sansthan, Dausa, Rajasthan
53. Shaheen (Women Resource Centre), Hyderabad, AP
54. Dalit Women Forum, AP
55. SRAVANTHI, Chittor, AP
56. Nava Chhattisgarh Mahila Sanghattan, Chhattisgarh
57. Forum for Women’s Rights & Development (FORWORD), Tambaram-Chennai, TN
58. Andhra Pradesh Matyaya Karula Union
59. Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi
60. Institute for Development and Sustainability, New Delhi
61. Andhra Pradesh Mahila Vyavasay Vruthidariula Union
62. 5th Scheduled Sadhana Committee -AP
63. Upadi Hami Hakkula Union, Andhra Pradesh
64. River Basin Friends(NE)
65. Rural Volunteers Centre Assam
66. Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee,ASSAM
67. People’s Movement for Subansiri and Brhmaputra Vally,Assam
68. Ekkya Mancha,Subansiri Gogamukh, Assam
69. Takam Mishing Poring Kebang,Assam
70. Sammilita Ganashakti,Assam
71. Thanal, Kerala
72. Laya, Andhra Pradesh
73. Orissa Development Action Forum
74. Environics Trust, New Delhi
75. Intercultural Resources, New Delhi
76. Kalpavriksh – India
77. Delhi Forum


78. Thomas Kocherry, Kerala
79. Medha Patkar, Madhya Pradesh
80. Ashok Choudhury, Saharanpur, UP
81. Matanhy Saldanha, Goa
82. Ashish Kothari, Pune
83. Maj Gen(Retd) S.G.Vombatkare, Karnataka


1. The Call and invitation issued by Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

2. Memorandum To The Government Of India On The UNFCCC’s 15th Conference Of The Parties At Copenhagen’, dated November 24 2009.

Copy to: Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Environment & Forests