Report from India and Nepal

By Dave Webb and from Bruce's Blog: Organizing Notes

with additional material from WIll Griffin

November 15 - 29 2016


Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Preparing for the Peace Conference

Members of the Board of the Global Network converged on Visakhapatnam in India to attend the International Peace Conference organised by J. Narayana Rao - GN Director in India. We came from the US, Britain, Japan and South Korea and other new friends arrived from Nepal and from across India.

Bruce flew from Newark, New Jersey for India on November 15th and tried to exchange American money for Indian rupees.  He was told by the money changing station that they were handling any Indian rupees - the first time he heard about the Indian government's controversial 'demonetization' campaign.

Others cam across the same problem and, on arrival at the international airport in Delhi we found long lines at the money changing stations and discovered that foreigners could only exchange $100 worth of currency for rupees.  Indian cash was in very short supply.  ATM machines were not working and some travellers were in a very difficult position, having brought no cash with them.

In early November the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes were banned overnight. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended the decision saying it was an anti-corruption measure. Bruce expressed his doubts. He writes:

"On my flight from Delhi to Visakhapatnam I was reading two Indian newspapers and one of them carried a photo of Modi and Bill Gates.  The caption under the photo declared that Gates was supporting Modi's demonetization effort and the Microsoft mogul had urged India to go digital - essentially get rid of paper money and make all transactions computer based.

As I read the newspapers my mind flashed back to a recent radio interview I heard on National Public Radio back home.  An author of a new book was urging American to go 'digital' and become a cashless society.  It's obvious that the Modi government demonetization effort, supposedly to fight corruption and 'black money', is little more than an effort to create a global monetary system under the control of corporate banking computer systems."

Travelling across India for nearly two weeks was interesting as daily there were stories about problems - especially for the rural poor - as cash was becoming scarce.  The government was offering the poor free pocket devices so they could make financial transactions online.  But with 25% of India's population living in dire poverty this was a hollow gesture.

As Bruce emphasised:

"Modi is an instrument of corporate power.  He is turning his nation's hard won independence and sovereignty over to the international banking industry and to the military industrial complex.  The poor, as always, will be left in the lurch.

Beware of the power of the global elite.  They are now consolidating power for their own benefit - not on behalf of the world's marginalized people.

The US has been working hard to bring India into the space warfare program in order to tilt the power in the region away from China.  So as corporate globalization has moved low-paying jobs to India in order to exploit cheap labor, the US has decided to try to push some of that new Indian wealth into the coffers of the military industrial complex by signing up Delhi to help pay for the Pentagon's expensive space program.

India has created a 'Space Command' mimicking the US Space Command even down to duplicating much of the aggressive language in the so-called Vision for 2020 that calls for US 'control and domination' of space."


18-20 November 2016
International Conference: "Peace on Earth and Space for Global Security and Human Development"
GITAM University

The Conference was sponsored by the School of Law, Gitam University in Visakhapatnam and the Global Network. GITAM (the Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management) was founded in 1980 by a group of eminent intellectuals and industrialists of Andhra Pradesh led by Dr.M.V.V.S.Murthi, Former Member of Parliament and popular philanthropist. The International Conference was officially opened by a ceremonial panel:


Panel at the opening ceremony of the conference:
(L to R) Unknown?; Sri J. Narayano Rao (Director, Global Network, India); Dr M.V.V.S. Murthi (President, Gitam University); Prof (Dr) R. Venkata Rao (Vice Chancellor, NLSU, Bengaluru); Prof M.S. Prasada Rao (Vice Chancellor, Gitam University); Prof Y. Satyanaryana (Director, School of Law)

   
Bruce and Rao both addressed the official opening

The speeches made by the distinguished panel were impressive, well informed and focussing on the importance of Space Law to the development of the peaceful uses of space. Dr. R. Venkata Rao, Vice Chancellor, National Law School of India University, Bangalore concluded his speech by:

"I hope this Seminar will be the 'Giant Leap' in making space safe and secure"

and the president and founding chancellor (Dr M.V.V.S. Murthi) gave an excellent presentation (he acknowledged that he doesn't come out to many of these kind of events but asked to speak at the opening).

Bruce was asked to address the audience on behalf of the Global Network and spoke of how this was the first time that we had been hosted by a law school at a university.


Will Griffin takes his seat at the opening ceremony

Following the opening ceremony the conference proper began.
 



Explore but Don't Exploit

Several hundred students, faculty and citizens attended the event from throughout India. Five GN board members were in attendance - unfortunately, GN Advisory Board member Koohan Paik had to cancel at the last minute as she came down with illness - she was missed but sent copies of the presentations she would have made (see below).

We were all very impressed with the total commitment to this conference from the law school administration, faculty and especially the incredible student participation - not only from Gitam University but law students attended from Chennai and faculty members travelled from other educational institutions throughout India.  Five people came from Nepal - some of them from Kathmandu were to be our hosts when we travelled there some days later.

Each of our Global Network leaders at the event was given the opportunity to speak and our talks were well received. Topics we covered included U.S. plans for control and domination of space; efforts now underway by corporations who want to ‘mine the sky’ to circumvent United Nations treaties; Pentagon ‘missile defense’ deployments in Eastern Europe and Asia; Jeju Island Navy base struggle in Korea; as well as testimony about being in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by William Griffin from Veterans for Peace.

Some of the original presentations are available here:


Sung-Hee Choi (from Jeju Island, South Korea on the left of the front row) spoke about the anti-Navy base struggle and the plans for US deployment of 'missile defense' in Korea


J. Narayana Rao speaking at the conference - his key role in organising conference and the campaign in India was referred to a number of times.


Dave gave a presentation on missile defence developments in Europe and the push on Russia's borders.


Sai Tajuna the granddaughter of GN board member J. Narayana Rao gave an excellent talk


Khum Prasad Sharma, General Secretary of the Literary Association of Nepal, presenting his paper


Will Grifin talking of his experiences with the US Army in Afghanistan and Iraq


GN Board member Atsushi Fujioka from Japan warning us of High Altitude Nuclear Explosions (HANE) and how an attack on nuclear reactors would cause real big prolems


Will with two Gitam University professors who spoke at the conference.


Jeju solidarity from the conference


Some other friends and colleagues at the conference. Third from the left is Wookbin Moh from South Korea. Second from the right is My Yasua Ogata, Deputy Chairman of the Japanese Communist Party and former Japanese senator and third from the right is JV Prabakar (a retired engineering school administrator and leader of the Visakhapatnam chapter of the Global Network)

Some of the students at the conference made the case that space development is something to be embraced (satellites enable GPS, communications, TV, ATM machines and more) but others were more sceptical about corporate intentions in space. In her talk at the conference, Aruna Kammila, a Gitam School of Law Assistant Professor,  used the words “Explore but don’t exploit” which underlined how we should be sceptical about corporate intentions to control space for their own profits. This was also a recurring theme that prompted discussion and debate throughout the conference.

Bruce spoke of the excitement he felt when talking with three young law students from Chennai (above). They are very interested in space law, which they have been studying for the past year and decided to draft a space law for India which they have also sent to the government. They asked how they could become involved in the Global Network and said that they have ideas for how to expand our reach to foster global debate on these issues.

Currently there is international space law formed at the United Nations - the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty (which the US has never signed because of plans to exploit and control since the early 1950's).  Both of those UN treaties emphasise that all outer space and the heavenly bodies are the 'common heritage' of all humankind and that no country, corporation nor individual can claim ownership of them. However, there are untapped resources in outer space and it will not be long before national and corporate interests make their moves to develop space technologies for the purposes of military advantage and/or commercial exploitation (mining of the Moon and the Asteroids is already being seriously investigated). The question is - are there enough space laws to cover future developments in space technology?

Other presentations were given on broadcasting and remote sensing in space customary law; how we are distancing ourselves from nature; the need for an Indian Space Agency; the importance of sharing information and technology; the bi-partisanship of space law must be more inclusive.

A very interesting presentation was given by Dr Anil Kumar Mohapatra from the Department of Political Science at Berhampur University (picture left) and who referred to the outer space environment as a 'commons' - a valued resource that lie outside the jurisdiction and sovereignty of any individual state. The commons of space includes orbital paths, access to outer space, the planets and other celestial bodies, etc. However, as outer space is essentially deregulated it is subject to a dilemma that arises when a number of individuals or groups, acting independently and rationally in their own self-interest, end up depleting a shared limited resource - even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen.

This "tragedy of the commons" was illustrated by Garret Hardin in 1968 and he quoted the conclusion of a 1964 article by Wiesner and York on the future of nuclear war:

"Both sides in the arms race are ...confronted by the dilemma of steadily increasing military power and steadily decreasing national security. It is our considered professional judgment that this dilemma has no technical solution. If the great powers continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technology only, the result will be to worsen the situation."

This is also the situation with the use of outer space – although individual states cannot own outer space, in order to avoid a tragedy, they will collectively need to agree to cooperate in its use. A generally acceptable ethical code must therefore be developed that can be reliably followed and which will benefit all without polluting the near Earth environment, restricting access to deep space or employing space as a means of domination and control.

As someone at the conference put it - it is a case of "co-existence or no existence".

While at GITAM several of us were interviewed by a reporter from The Hindu, the largest English language national newspaper in India. An article was published (see below)

 
Also online at http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/US-missile-defence-system-is-going-to-be-the-game-changer-Expert/article16661226.ece

The journalist did a good job of writing about the dangers from the Pentagon's 'missile defense' system that is now being used to encircle China and Russia.

In the early evening we visited Kailasagiri, a nearby hilltop park. It consists of 380acres of land covered with tropical plants and trees. From the hill you could see the beaches and forests of Visakhapatnam.


The Shiva-Parvati statue at Kailasagiri

The above statue in the park is of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Shiva is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, in Shaivism he is the supreme God  - "the transformer" within the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. It was a reminder of the words of J. Robert Oppenheimer who headed the US second world war atomic bomb project. Following the detonation of the first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 (the so-called Trinity test) in New Mexico, he said he remembered a line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita during a dialogue between the prince Arjuna and Vishnu who "takes on his multi-armed form" in order to impress and says "now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”’ It is apparently a misquotation but the meaning is clear enough!


Sunday, November 20 2016

Global Network Business Meeting

Present: Dave, Bruce, Will, Atsushi, Rao, Sung-Hee

There were only two items on the agenda really:

1. Thanks to Rao for the tremendous job he has done on organising the conference, speaking tour and generally getting more people and organisations involved in the GN from India and Nepal.

2. We agreed to propose that the 2017 GN annual space organizing conference (our 25th) be held on April 7-9 in Huntsville, Alabama

We’ have not held a GN event in the US for several years and Huntsville is the home of the Redstone Arsenal and the Space Command’s directorate for ‘missile defense’.  Huntsville is called the ‘Pentagon of the south’ and is the manufacturing site for the PAC-3, SM-3 MD systems. In addition, THAAD is built in another part of Alabama.  Redstone Arsenal was the place where the German rocket scientists were taken to after WW II to help create the US space program.  The GN has held a meeting in Huntsville before - in 2001.

It was agreed that we would seek approval from GN board members to go forward with planning for this event. We’d like to offer co-sponsorships to various other peace groups and Bruce Gagnon, Will Griffin and Dave Webb will form the initial organizing committee. 


The organiser of the trip to India J. Narayana Rao (right) with Dave (left) and Bruce (middle).


Monday, November 21 2016

Reaching More Students in Visakhapatnam

After the conference at GITAM, four of us stayed on in Visakhapatnam for more talks and visits. Our extra 2 day programme in Visakhapatnam was organised by our griend and colleague J.V. Prabhakar, a retired engineering school administrator who heads the Visakhapatnam chapter of the Global Network. Prabhakar works closely with J. Narayana Rao and has been to several of our past GN conferences in different countries. Prabhakar is widely respected in his community and he often introduced as at the various venues he had a connection with. On the 21st we visited the Dr. V.S. Krishna Government Degree College established in 1968. Here we met with the staff, including  and over 100 students heard our talks.

Following this we visited a private school which offered more educational opportunities for the children of parents with a higher income.  Again more than 100 students listened to each of us speak. 


Speaking at the Dr V S Krishna Government College


Bruce addresses the audience on the left is Sandeep Chikkam, friend and colleague during our time at Gitam


Following the speeches we had the usual honorary ceremony and photographs


Will with one of the important T-shirt messages and admirers

Bruce told the story of how, at one time, Coca Cola wanted to place a massive sign on the moon advertising their addictive sugar filled drink.  Luckily they were deterred from carrying this out but it is incredible to think that this huge corporation should think of committing this barbaric act on the space environment.


Posing with the poster used for Keep Space for Peace Week by the Government College in Visakhapatnam At the centre of the banner (to Dave's left) is Dr. V. Chandra Sekhar, Principal and Chairman of the College - the college soccer team helped us hold the banner.

Our final talk on the Monday was at Andhra University where we were invited by Dr M.V.R. Raju, Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology, to address his post graduate students.  Several of the students were from Ethiopia and Somalia, now in India working on their advanced degrees (see below). 

The head of the department spoke movingly about the 'deadly connections' between growing militarism in the US and India and cutbacks being made in programs to help those who suffer from poverty and mental illness.


Tuesday, November 22 2016

Reaching Out Again in Visakhapatnam

 

In the morning we visited the Rama Krishna private school where Bruce and Mary Beth had spoken on their first trip to India in 2006. We were able to talk to an assembly of about 150 young people.

From there we were taken to the Ahndhra University College of Science and Technology, where we spoke to a group of about 150 students.

 

After this we had a wonderful lunch at J.V. Prabhakar's home.

 
The view from J.V. Prabhakar's apartment

In the afternoon we returned to Andhra University where we spoke with about 50 students in the foreign language department.

Talking with foreign language students at Andhra University


Space Issues Talk by Bruce Gagnon in Visakhapatnam, India

Will Griffin - always thinking about how to promote our message - recorded the talk given by Bruce to the foreign language students and staff.

Although Koohan Paik (from Hawaii) was ill and not able to join the trip, Bruce always included some of her research about recent US-India military agreements in his talks. Koohan had found out that the US and India had signed a Defense Technology & Trade Initiative (DTTI) which will pump large sums of American dollars into India's largest industrial corporations for the development and manufacture of weapons of war. DTTI will effectively shift India's power from the people to a domestic elite who will be complicit with US corporate interests.  Koohan wrote that this will be India's 'Colonization 2.0' and their participation in expanding US militarism will be part of the US 'pivot' to control China.

India is therefore losing its independence and sovereignty and the elite in India from corporations such as Tata, Reliance Industries, Mahindra and others will join with global war industrialists like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing to bring down India's democracy and make the world a more dangerous place. All this was mostly new to most Indian students (and faculty) and they appreciated the information and knowing that there is a growing international movement standing up against the globalization of corporate power.


Wednesday, November 23 2016

On the Wednesday morning we drove to Vizianagaram to a special seminar - 'Ecological Balance and Global Peace' - organised for science research students at a local venue (the Svn Lake Palace) by Dr. N.V.S. Suryanarayana, Head of the Department of Education, Andrha University. The seminar opened with a grand ceremony that included some incredible traditional dancing:

 
Opening ceremony at the "Young Researchers' Forum" amazing dancing - including on roller skates!

 
(Left) The seminar audience (right) picture line-up at conclusion

The honourable guest speaker commented on how when he was a kid people did not have to purchase bottled water.  Soon he said only the rich will be able to afford to purchase fresh air masks due to the growing pollution that comes with India's massive growth index. After the forum we were invited to speak to other groups at Anrha University.

 

After this a long drive took us to Srikakulam district where we spoke to a local school that has a connection with the Department of Foreign Languages at Andhra University.

  
Speaking at Srikakulam School and the press coverage

The bright eyed children seemed very interested in what we had to say and were full of energy and enthusiasm for a more peaceful and fairer world. It appears that 'Call Centre' corporations draw on the youth from some of these poorer districts, using them as cheap labour - around $100 a month.


Thursday, November 24 2016
To Vijayawada

Early the next morning we took a train ride south for about six-hours or so to our next port of call - Vijayawada. Here we were hosted by the Indian Society for Cultural Co-operation and Friendship (ISCUF) who organised a meeting on "Space for Peace Not for War" in conjunction with Parvathaneni Brahmayya Siddhartha College of Art & Science, where we were introduced to Prof Rajesh Jampala, Dean of the college.

  
(Left) Introducing the Meeting on "Space for Peace Not for War" (Right) Address by K. Subbaraju, General Secretary of ISCUF National Council

 
The audience listens to Bruce


The panel


Dave Webb's speech recorded by Will Griffin

 
Will presenting his speech and after accepting the gifts from the hosts

 
Coverage of the event by Siddhartha College


Friday, November 25 2016
Some Sightseeing

In the afternoon of the 25th Mr Rao and Mr Subba Raju took Will and Dave for a visit to Bhavani Island which is located about 4 km from Vijayawada. It is a river island of around 130 acres formed by the River Krishna and a popular tourist area, with boat trips, caves and temples.

The River Crossing to Bhavani Island

Relaxing among some of the island attractions
 



Saturday, November 26 2016
To Nagpur

An overnight train took us from Vijayawada to Nagpur, arriving on Saturday morning.

In Nagpur we were hosted by Nagpur University and presented at a seminar on nuclear weapons and the militarisation of space

 
Mr Rao addresses the seminar at Nagpur University

Dr Siddharthavinayaka P. Kane, Vice Chancellor of the University, also spoke at the seminar but had to leave early and another guest speaker was Dr. Manit Boonprong a Lieutenant General in the Thai Army. We also met with Dr. D. K. Agarwal (Director of the Board of College and University Development) and Dr. M. M. Rai (Coordinator of the Centre for Sericulture and Biological Pest Management Research) among others. In the evening we were well hosted by staff of the University.

 


Sunday November 27

To Nepal: We Must Gather the Good Minded People Everywhere

Early on Sunday morning we left Nagpur to fly to Delhi national airport and from there took an airport bus to the international terminal.  On the way we saw a large billboard with a military helicopter and the Boeing logo alongside the words "Together. Building the Future".

The US military industrial complex is moving in to the huge potential market that is India. As Bruce says, the US plan for 'full spectrum dominace' via space control and domination carries a massive cost that Washington (even after years of austerity cuts in the US) can't afford to pay for. The Pentagon's main job at the moment is to secure commitments from allied governments around the world to help the US become the 'Master of Space'. India is no exception and deals between the US and India have already been struck that will take India deeper into this business with the US.

We received a very warm welcome in Nepal which sits as a kind of 'buffer zone' between India and China.  As the US attempts to bring India 'onside' in its plans for war with China the people of Nepal are in a very precarious position. Our companions and guides during our visit to Nepal were Professor Dr Shreedhar Gautum, Prabhu Ray Yadav (respectively Secretary General and Treasurer of the Nepal Council of World Affairs) and Khum Prasad Sharma (General Secretary of the Literary Association of Nepal).

 
Our Hotel during the stay in Kathmandu

While in Nepal we stayed at the Hardik Hotel on Bag Bazaar Sadak in Kathmandu and our first talk was very close at a women's college, part of Padmakanya Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan University, founded in 1951. About fifty students and faculty were present and afterward we were taken to the campus cafeteria for tea.  There was a lot of interest in what we had to say.


Students and faculty at women's college in Kathmandu
 


Monday, November 28 2016
The Earth Moves

This morning at 5:20am we were wakened by an earthquake of magnitude 5.4, our beds shook and the experience reminded us of the dreadful event that hit Nepal last year and killed nearly 9,000 people, damaging around a million homes and buildings. The one we experienced was moderate and originated some 120kms (75 miles) east of Kathmandu (a few more details are given here: http://earthquake-report.com/2016/11/28/moderate-earthquake-nepal-on-november-27-2016/).

Later we went to a different campus of Tribhuvan University, Patan Multiple Campus where we met with about a dozen people, mostly faculty members from various departments.

 

At a later meeting with some members of research staff from various departments, one professor asked how the Global Network was integrating the need to heal the broken spirit in the collective mind and spirit of people around the world.  Peace of mind is necessary for the human being, he said.  "We must make people human beings again....money is everywhere....we must gather the good people, good minded people....selfishness is an epidemic across the world.  This is the time. Let us accept all the people of the world."

Bruce thanked the professor for these beautiful words and told him that this is indeed a message that is part of our work at the Global Network.  We agree with all our heart that we must heal the broken circle - we must heal our relationship to Mother Earth.

While at the University we were introduced to Prof. Dr. Madhab Prasad Gautam, the Campus Chief of Patan Multiple Campus. After hearing reports on our meeting with faculty members, he organised another meeting for us to speak at and invited all faculty members and students to attend.


Prof. Dr. Madhab Prasad Gautam, Campus Chief
 


Tuesday, November 29 2016
Kathmandu Model College

We were also invited to visit a much wealthier private college (Kathmandu Model College) and talked to students from a range of subject areas. First, before lunch, we addressed a mixture including science and technology students.

   
(Left) Kathmandu Model College (Centre) an introduction from Professor Dr Shreedhar Gautam
and (Right) Will presenting his talk


 
(Left) Bruce addresses the audience at Kathamndu Model College

We were then taken to the canteen where we ate with the staff and students. Then returned after lunch to give a few more talks to students of business and management.

    
After lunch we talked with two more classes of students

Later, we were taken to meet with members of the Nepal Council of World Affairs (www.ncwa.org.np). The meeting was chaired by the Presdient, Dr. Rajendra B. Shrestha and included a number of members of the executive committee, some of whom we had already met.

     
Dr. Rajendra B. Shrestha - President; Prof. Dr. Shreedhar Gautam - Secretary General; Mr. Prabhu Ray Yadav - Treasurer
   
Ashim Thapa, Rabindra Nath Bhattarai and Umesh Bahadur Malla - Executive Members


Will was excited to have been given the title Dr. - perhaps a sign of things to come?

Following a really interesting discussion with the committee members, we were taken for an excellent meal at a nearby restaurant and then back to the hotel.

The following morning (Wednesday, November 30th) we were taken for our final coffee and cake at a cafe where we could sit in the sunshine before starting the long journey home.


Morning coffee at a roof top cafe in Nepal - picture by WIll

We left Kathmandu that afternoon to fly to Delhi and then go our various ways. Our thanks go to all the people who helped make our visit a great success. Especially the Global Network Director in India, J. Narayana Rao. He put in so much work to this visit, organsing the tour, accompanying us everywhere and speaking at all of the events.


Masters of Space at Schriever Air Force Base
- More details in their
Strategic Plan

While speaking with the faculty members in Nepal, Bruce emphasised clearly that the US Space Command becoming the 'Master of Space' is one sign of our current human sickness. He told the story of Standing Rock in North Dakota where Native Americans and their many supporters have rallied to stop the 'Black Snake' oil pipeline being laid along the Missouri River. We are all working to heal the broken relationship with Mother Earth. The native people call themselves water protectors as they try to defend their environment - water is life. We are working to keep the heavens free from war and exploitation - it is all the same struggle.
 



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