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Initiative

Jan 14, 2005
Reasons for GNI’s silence

One day soon, the full story will be told in a long piece here in GNI, but for now the first reason for my long silence. On Dec 15, 2004, I was arrested most unlawfully by the police at the behest of MGM Beach Resorts and was not released until human rights activists and the media swung into action. This too will form a part of the story to be told, but now a letter I wrote to the officer who arrested me will give you a sense of the drama. For those with a greater interest in ECCO’s activities, here’s another report that gives a broader picture of the menace to the environment by resorts along the ECR.

A whistle-blower’s only security in India is in broadcasting his case and hoping it would outrage citizens -such as you?- to rally in support. Maybe there is someone out there who can crack the whip on a bully that bucks the law, the courts and nature itself. That is my belief and hope. In line with that hope, here’s a link to a small piece I wrote on the subject in GNI, some months ago.

Within a fortnight of my arrest and release, came the second reason for GNI’s long silence. It was the tsunami of Dec 26. Five died in the fishing village with whose people, we had fought a few of our battles. All their means of livelihood have been destroyed. With that any stomach for a fight they had in them is gone. The tsunami has gouged the temple lands MGM Beach Resorts had unlawfully occupied and over which we had fought.  But the artful dodger is on the prowl again trying to fish in the waters of misery, with tempting offers of ‘help’.

But ECCO has its own response. Like in GNI’s own stories, we found that good news can be wrung out of the bad. So ignoring our set-backs and disappointment with officialdom, the motley group at ECCO rallied to the villagers’ support and in a few days decided that the best relief was in giving livelihoods back to fishermen.

We had never raised money before, we all had other things to do [for me it was publishing GNI] and we were so few. Each boat cost Rs.70,000. Our village alone needed 60 to put all men to work. The task seemed impossible. But once we decided upon our mission we were staring at magic - the very stuff that GNI stories are made of. In just two weeks we had enough money to build 5 boats. We have hopes for even more. Money has come from strangers and unseen faces, from Indians and foreigners, young and old, poor and the rich. It has ranged from Rs.50 to Rs.70,000. It has been a love-tsunami. You can read about ECCO’s relief work -and maybe even support it- by following the various links from this page.

So dear readers, GNI’s pages have been silent for the very reasons why GNI exists. Reality has caught up with its publisher, and his faith in India and life’s ways is only reinforced. Often what we cannot achieve by fulminating, can be achieved by switching off disappointment and working for a greater objective. Who knows the monster tsunami and the love tsunami ECCO has unleashed may yet tame the thus-far-incorrigible MGM Beach Resorts and teach its owners a few things that money can’t buy; and teach our villagers the essence of Gandhi, which is to forswear fear. On the way up to their present heady heights, MGM found things so easily manageable by money sprayed all around. Staying at that height however, would require a different set of values. They might yet learn that set.

On such hopes must life ride.

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