Ending the War at Sea: In Pursuit of Permanent Solutions to the India-Pakistan Fisheries conflict (2018)

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The August of 2018 saw Pakistan release thirty Indian prisoners and India
release fourteen Pakistani prisoners from their jails respectively; the gesture
was rightly applauded by the media and citizens as an extension of an olive
branch of peace, especially with the new Government in Pakistan. However, the
fact that the majority of the Indian prisoners—twenty-six to be precise—are
fshworkers and primarily from Gujarat and Diu, goes unnoticed. The conflict
between India and Pakistan is most often portrayed and imagined as one that
takes place on land. The diplomatic turbulence brewing at sea for the last thirty
years is not known to the average citizen of both countries. In fact, currently
there are 103 Pakistani fshermen in Indian jails and 392 Indian fshermen in
Pakistan jail. This raises many important questions of peace and security in the
context of people, livelihoods, the environment and resources.


The arrests, prolonged jail-terms and in-custody deaths of the fsherpeople
have given way to a humanitarian crisis. Those who manage to survive in these
jails have to wait years to be released. The kind of insensitive charges, which
were put on these arrested fshers, often led to their prolonged sentencing
under Arms Act, Banned substances laws (Smuggling & Narcotics provisions),
criminal trespassing, etc. made matters worse and mental trauma unmatched.
Though the interventions in the past few years by civil society groups and the
judiciary in India and Pakistan have brought some temporary relief, the fact
remains that the fshworkers have been made prisoners of war, remains to be
addressed. Added to it is the livelihood loss to fshers, with their captured boats,
in hundreds, rotting in the other country’s custody. At the stage of prisoners
release, they are packaged into political commodities or gifts by India and Pakistan to be bartered on special occasions. Ironically, within a week of the recent
goodwill gesture, India arrested nine Pakistani fshworkers after they allegedly
crossed over to the Indian side of International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL)
in the Arabian Sea! This situation begets many questions
 


COASTAL REGULATIONS IN INDIA:  FROM PROTECTION TO DESTRUCTION (2018)

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On the 18th of April 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) published the Draft Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2018 (CRZ 2018), inviting comments/suggestions/views within a period of 60 days from its publication. Even before these comments could be analyzed, the MoEFCC introduced another amendment on the 2nd of July 2018 to the CRZ 2011, this time under the clause of “Public Interest”. What is unprecedented in India’s history, both these changes to coastal regulations have deliberately omitted consultations with the fishworking community- India’s largest, non-consumptive coastal stakeholder. Published during the National Interaction of Parliamentarians with the leaders of National Fishworkers Forum, this booklet contains the objections and recommendations by the coastal community with regard to Coastal Regulation Zone Notification.


Why should Indian people care about AIIB? (2018)

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 The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a new international bank set up by China in 2016. The bank lends money to governments and to the private sector for infrastructure projects. It is primarily focused on Asia, and its rules say that Asian members must hold at minimum 75% of the votes in the bank. But the bank also includes members from across the world including Europe, Latin America and Africa, although notably both the US and Japan have chosen not to join it. Asia, just like much of the Global South, has a large infrastructure gap. Many governments and inter-national development banks argue that huge investment in infrastructure is required for countries to develop and prosper. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimated in 2017 that the region needs to spend $1.7 trillion a year until 2030 to address the lack of infrastructure in Asia. The AIIB aims to focus specifically on this issue, funding infrastructure projects in the region, and beyond. The bank is also a political and economic project for China. It was initially set up as an alternative to the World Bank, IMF and other traditional International Financial Institutions (IFIs), as part of China’s attempt to become, and be recognized as, a world power. However so far the bank is not proving to be very different from the ADB, World Bank, etc. and does not seem to be much of a threat to them.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a new international bank set up by China in 2016. The bank lends money to governments and to the private sector for infrastructure projects. It is primarily focused on Asia, and its rules say that Asian members must hold at minimum 75% of the votes in the bank. But the bank also includes members from across the world including Europe, Latin America and Africa, although notably both the US and Japan have chosen not to join it. Asia, just like much of the Global South, has a large infrastructure gap. Many governments and inter-national development banks argue that huge investment in infrastructure is required for countries to develop and prosper. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimated in 2017 that the region needs to spend $1.7 trillion a year until 2030 to address the lack of infrastructure in Asia. The AIIB aims to focus specifically on this issue, funding infrastructure projects in the region, and beyond. The bank is also a political and economic project for China. It was initially set up as an alternative to the World Bank, IMF and other traditional International Financial Institutions (IFIs), as part of China’s attempt to become, and be recognized as, a world power. However so far the bank is not proving to be very different from the ADB, World Bank, etc. and does not seem to be much of a threat to them.


Overfishing Negotiations at the WTO: Undermining Fishworker Livelihoods (2018)

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 The Ministry of Commerce and Industry convened an informal international multi-ministerial meeting on the 19th and 20th of March, 2018 in New Delhi, India. This is a follow up to the December 2017 WTO meeting where negotiations stalled on the fisheries subsidies agenda. The stalemate was a result of India‘s priority to guarantee food and livelihood security, prompting much criticism from state and non-state actors.Unfortunately, what remained unheard were the voices of the lakhs of Indian fishworkers and their perspective on the impacts of the free-market led development trajectory of Indian fisheries.  As a response, The Research Collective compiled this position paper with the main aim to build context and a historical narration of fishworker struggles in India, with the hope to inform national and international debates on the subject of fisheries subsidies.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry convened an informal international multi-ministerial meeting on the 19th and 20th of March, 2018 in New Delhi, India. This is a follow up to the December 2017 WTO meeting where negotiations stalled on the fisheries subsidies agenda. The stalemate was a result of India‘s priority to guarantee food and livelihood security, prompting much criticism from state and non-state actors.Unfortunately, what remained unheard were the voices of the lakhs of Indian fishworkers and their perspective on the impacts of the free-market led development trajectory of Indian fisheries.

As a response, The Research Collective compiled this position paper with the main aim to build context and a historical narration of fishworker struggles in India, with the hope to inform national and international debates on the subject of fisheries subsidies.


Visible Tiger; Invisible People - Study and Report Based on the Public Hearing held at Sundarban Islands, India (2017)

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The Sundarban is one of the most unique forest regions in the world and is internationally recognised as an ecologically sensitive region. Criss-crossed by mighty estuarine rivers and a maze of innumerable creeks and tributaries, this is the largest mangrove forest and the only mangrove tiger land in the world. The forest spreads across India and Bangladesh of which the Indian part is situated in the state of West Bengal. The fact that it is the largest remaining natural habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger furthers its prominence in the world.

‘Visible Tiger; Invisible People’ is a study and report that looks at the status of implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 in the Sundarban forest region in India. It raises critical issues and questions the current system of forest governance in the country. 

It brings together the findings from the Public Hearing held at the Sundarban islands in 2016 by looking specifically at the situation of the fishworkers and forest workers in the region who are facing violations of their right to life and livelihood. It portrays the disconnect between the original ideas of forest conservation which focused on co-existence between humans, plants and animals and what is being done in reality by making areas inviolate under the garb of conservation
 


The Vizhinjam Report : Dream or Disaster- A Study of the Economic, Environmental & Social Impacts of the Port (2017)

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The Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multipurpose Port was awarded to the sole bidder Adani Ports & SEZ in 2015 by the previous Congress-led UDF (United Democratic Front) government in Kerala, almost half a century after the project was first mooted1 and 20 years after the proceedings started in 1995. Touted by the government as a dream project and by many others as an economic disaster, the project has been mired in controversy and allegations of governmental misconduct. This report is an attempt to bring together the various issues surrounding the Vizhinjam port and critically evaluate the project for what it actually is, its true costs and benefits.


Where hAve the fish gone? - the impact of industrial development on fishworkers in Gujarat (2017)

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Across the state of Gujarat, economic process put in motion since the ‘70s have impacted the fishing community and their livelihood. Based on fieldwork across the coast, the study, assesses the impacts of industrial development on the fishing community. It found that both industrial and fisheries policy, oriented towards export and global seafood regimes have had adverse impacts on coastal ecology and the fishing community.

Section One, focuses on the growth of industrialisation, current industrial patterns, the parallel changes in the demographic of the traditional fishing community and changing pattern of fisheries since the Eighties.

Section Two, is based on field work in four fishing villages of South Gujarat, one fishing harbour of the Saurashtra Coast and four fishing villages across the district of Kutch. It shows that large-scale pollution due to industrialisation has severely affected coastal ecology and degraded coastal areas. It has led to large-scale depletion of marine resources. The fishing community has been severely impacted – leading to their migration and displacement. Interviews also revealed changing livelihood patterns across the coast, changing access of the community to the Commons, as well as the existing practices of debt bondge and militarisation in the Kutch region. 


OccupatioN of the Coast - The BLue Economy in InDIA (2017)

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The Blue Economy involves economic activity that engages with the various components of the oceans. Given the immensity (components and geographical scope) of the oceans, it is not surprising that a vast array of actors-state actors, transnational corporations, conservation organisations, philanthropic foundations, policy think-tanks etc.-locate themselves strategically in the framework to seize the opportunity the Blue Economy affords. As the Blue Economy gets underway, the publication titled ‘Occupation of the Coast – The Bue Economy in India’, supported by the National Fishworker Forum, re-visits various aspects of coastal development and weaves together a narrative of its impacts on the fishing communities.

The study is divided into three chapter. Chapter One studies the laws pertaining to the coastal lands and the ocean resources in tandem since they govern the space (land), the resource (ocean) and access (land to ocean) vital to the fishing communities. Chapter Two investigates current government policies and financial practices of the government’s current flagship programme, the Sagarmala Programme, followed by two two papers which explore the key thrust areas of the Sagarmala, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) port models through a analysis of the Vijhinjam Port Project and an analysis of the creation of 111 inland waterways.

Chapter Three, brings together a series of contributions on the environmental and livelihood aspects of the Blue Economy. Key issues tackled in this section are the changing role of women fishers in the fisheries sector, the legal and administrative framework of governing Marine Protected Areas in India, the introduction of Blue Carbon as a new solution to climate change, tourism policies in India and the growing concerns of militarisation and security, in context of the Andamans.

With contributions by independent researchers and organisations working on the respective issues, the report touches upon key challenges in both coastal and marine policies today. Some of the main issues that have been raised and the paper, to be written by the authors of the report, would articulate are, financialisation of natural resources, the changing nature of governance and policy regimes, the eradication of processes of consent and consultation with affected communities, and the increasing push towards privitisation and para statal bodies in infrastructure policy.

 


Unfolding Crisis: The Case of Rising NPAs and Sinking Public Accountability (2016)

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The concept of institutionalized finance is a fairly complex issue whose nuances are often difficult to grasp. Keeping this in mind Unfolding Crisis seeks to demystify the NPA phenomenon by providing relevant facts, figures and trends to shed light on the factors leading to the crisis and also propose counter measures, which will ensure both the non-occurrence of such a situation and improve transparency and public accountability in the banking sector.

 

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its Financial Stability Report published in June 2016 had projected that the gross NPA rate of the banking sector could increase to 8.5% of the total advances. Dr. Raghuram Rajan had also made it clear that unless the stress in the banking sector is dealt with, growth cannot be revived. To further inflate the issue, if restructured loans are included within the ambit of NPAs, the situation is likely to go out of hand, adversely impacting the overall health of the economy.

 

The NPA crisis is at the cusp of criticality, whereby the stability and growth of the National Economy, the Industrial Sector and the average citizen may be substantially threatened. However, before this banking anathema is countered and corrected, it must first be discussed and understood. As Henry Williams had once said, “Furious activity is no substitute for understanding”.


Coallateral (2015)

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Coallateral consolidates research with findings of the Independent People’s Tribunal on the MoU signed between Rajmahal Pahad Bachao Andolan and PANEM Coal Mines (a Joint Venture between EMTA and Punjab State Electricity Boards, now renamed PSPCL) that took place in November 2014 in Ranchi.  The MoU, then touted as a historic new development in the struggle between communities, the State and private corporations for natural resources disappeared from the imagination of the larger public, while becoming a dismal reality for the people affected by the coal mines. The Tribunal and relating research has brought forward new arguments for the ongoing debates on consent for land acquisition, alternatives, the ownership of natural resources, and the state’s relationships with private companies.  The study also documents the discrepancies and irregularities in the allocation of the coal-mines, the MDO model of private mining, the trajectory of the andolan, the signing and terms of the MoU, the extent of its implementation, the violation of the Santhal Paraganas Act and its impact on the lives of the Adivasi communities.


Down the Rabbit Hole – What the Bankers Aren’t Telling You! (2014)

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The report studies trends in financing, project finance and performance of banks. This report exposes the consequences of unaccountable lending, due diligence oversights prior to sanctioning of loans to projects, social and environmental issues impacting loan quality and other weak links in the lending framework.

The study analyses socio-environmental violations by projects and their implication on the project loans through thorough investigation into social, environmental, legal and financial issues of six case study projects across India – GMR Kamalanga Energy, Athena Demwe Lower HEP, Sasan UMPP, Lavasa Hill City, Lafarge Surma and Krishnapatnam UMPP.

The risks involved in financing of mega projects by banks are enormous and necessitate an in-depth understanding into their implications and repercussions. 


FISHING IN TROUBLED WATERS (2015)

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The issue of fishworkers arrests between India and Pakistan by the Maritime Security Agency (MSA) of Pakistan and the Indian Coast Guard dates back to the Independence of Pakistan and India. However, the intensity or the number of people arrested has mostly been on the rise and by the late 1990s, it was alarmingly high.

This compilation covers the contemporary history of intense efforts of the last four years in getting the fishworkers release from the other country’s jails as well as creating a mechanism for permanent release of fishermen.

It aims at covering the issues faced by fishermen of India and Pakistan and includes a section comprising of a timeline of efforts made by groups of activists from both sides. It also gives a glimpse of significant dialogue processes between activists and governments of two countries that they have led to. The latter part of the publication comprises a collection of articles.


GUFTAGU (2013)

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In 2012, the National Forum for Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) decided to convert the Forum to a national level Trade Union.

The idea for a publication, which aimed at giving an account of the lives, livelihood, struggles and political analyses of, the movement through group discussions and interviews with people within the movement, emerged.

The publication is a compilation of movement histories through ‘plural narrations’. While this is an interim publication, efforts are ongoing to produce a larger book with more interviews.


SIACHEN: END TO THE IMPASSE? (2013)

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The long-standing Siachen dispute has taken a toll on the lives of people and relationships between India and Pakistan.

The initial dossier that put together some of these articles were prepared as a context-setter to the Roundtable (RT) on Siachen between India and Pakistan people’s platforms.

The book brings together important points, key discussions and a chronology along with historical explanations of country positions. It includes diverse writings that have appeared in mainstream journals and media regarding the conflict, especially since its violent and war-like turn since 1984.


NEGOTIATING POWER (2012)

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This Socio-Economic Study was conducted in the project-affected area of GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited (GKEL) in Dhenkanal, Odisha to understand the ground scenario post the setting-up of GKEL coal-based thermal power plant by GMR Energy.

Contradictory to the often used argument that setting up industries in rural areas boosts local economy and generates employment, this study finds that a majority of the people in the 11 project affected villages have lost their livelihood without being compensated with employment in the company.

The number of landless families has significantly increased. Some of the impacts of the GKEL project on the community are relating to land alienation, depletion of ground water table, pollution, diversion of ayacut land, loss of irrigated land, loss of labour, loss of access to forest lands and its produce and loss of community commons.

 

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