Greenpeace India Faces Imminent Shutdown

The Executive Director of Greenpeace India, Samit Aich, addressed his staff early this week to prepare them for the imminent shutdown of the organization after 14 years in the country.

He said: “I just made one of the hardest speeches of my life, but my staff deserve to know the truth. We have one month left to save Greenpeace India from complete shutdown, and to fight MHA’s [Ministry of Home Affairs] indefensible decision to block our domestic accounts.”

Greenpeace India has one month left to fight for its survival with the threat of an imminent shutdown looming large. The NGO has been left with funds for staff salaries and office costs that will last for just about a month. Calling it “strangulation by stealth,” Greenpeace India challenged the Home Minister to stop using arbitrary penalties and confirm that he is trying to shut Greenpeace India down because of its successful campaigns.

The Home Ministry’s decision to block Greenpeace India’s domestic bank accounts could lead to not only the loss of 340 employees of the organization but a sudden death for its campaigns which strived to represent the voice of the poor on issues of sustainable development, environmental justice and clean, affordable energy.

Following allegations over foreign funding, Greenpeace India has been the subject of a string of penalties imposed by the MHA, all of which have been overturned by the Delhi High Court. The latest is blocking access to domestic bank accounts funded by donations from over 77,000 Indian citizens.

While, Greenpeace India is currently preparing its formal response to this decision as well as a fresh legal challenge, Aich is concerned that the legal process could extend well beyond 1st June when cash reserves for salaries and office costs will run dry.

Aich continued: “The question here is why are 340 people facing the loss of their jobs? Is it because we talked about pesticide-free tea, air pollution, and a cleaner, fairer future for all Indians?”

Priya Pillai is a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India. Her overseas travel ban was overturned by the Delhi High Court in March. She said: “I fear for my own future, but what worries me much more is the chilling message that will go out to the rest of Indian civil society and the voiceless people they represent. The MHA has gone too far by blocking our domestic bank accounts, which are funded by individual Indian citizens. If Greenpeace India is first, who is next?”

Greenpeace India has asked the MHA to recognize the impact of its decision.

Aich says: “The Home Minister is trying to strangle us by stealth, because he knows an outright ban is unconstitutional. We ask him to confirm that he is trying to close Greenpeace India and suppress our voice. His arbitrary attack could set a very dangerous precedent: every Indian civil society group is now on the chopping block.”

Since coming to power in 2014, the new Modi-led administration has promised to remove ‘blockages’ to ‘development’. In pushing through a strident neoliberal agenda, this was originally taken to mean regulatory obstacles. But it is increasingly clear that protest and dissent are to be regarded in a similar light.

A 2014 leaked Intelligence Bureau report stated that foreign NGOs and their Indian arms were serving as tools to advance Western foreign policy interests in various areas. Greenpeace was singled out for particular attention and was deemed to be working against the ‘national interest’.

Greenpeace responded at the time by saying: “We believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth.”

At a time when the administration is opening up the economy to Western interests, which could impact the livelihoods of hundreds of millions, the hypocrisy of blaming certain individuals and NGOs for working to further Western foreign policy objectives has not been lost on observers and campaigners alike.

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.


More articles by:

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring