There is an attempt to create a chilling effect: Greenpeace chief

Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo in New Delhi on Saturda. Photo Rajeev Bhatt  

As a young man growing up in South Africa, Kumi Naidoo looked to India for inspiration. Now there is a twinge of disappointment. Mr. Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, is puzzled at how the government came to freeze the organisation’s bank accounts in India without giving a reason. Though the Delhi High Court sent a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs directing it to unblock Greenpeace India’s foreign funds, there is no respite with the Ministry asking for more details on remittances from abroad. Mr Naidoo is in India to discuss the role of civil society in the context of certain individual and non-governmental organisations (NGO) being targeted for being “anti-national".

In interview to The Hindu on Saturday, he said, “Thankfully Greenpeace India is quintessentially an Indian entity, with 60 per cent of our resources coming from individual Indian citizens and 40 per cent from Greenpeace International.”

After the government’s move, Mr. Naidoo sought solace in Mahatma Gandhi. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win. We are not panicking because of Gandhiji. We take comfort in this that we are being fought and we are one step away from winning the argument for a different development model which includes sustainable meaning for growth,” he said. Mr Naidoo has asked for a meeting with the Home department and the Environment Minister.

It’s a bit disappointing for me to see what’s happening in India. As a young person growing up in South Africa, we looked to India as a bastion of democracy- no country supported us as much as India politically and in terms of skills development. I first came in 1989 first time to India as part of an African National Congress (ANC) delegation. I see India as a vibrant civil society, with its diversity of trade unions, social movements. It is troubling to see an attempt to create a chilling effect,” he said. Any half-intelligent person can see through that, he pointed out, adding that Essar had sued Greenpeace for Rs 500 crore after their protest.

Accusing Greenpeace of acting in foreign interests because it was accepting foreign funds was as absurd as saying that the Indian government was acting on a foreign agenda because it was getting aid from abroad. “We don’t take a single paisa from government or business – all our resources are raised through individual citizens, a small proportion of our resources come from a select number of trusts and foundations which meet certain ethical criteria. We are completely transparent about everything- we are not hiding anything- we have annual report and no attempt to conceal our work,” he clarified.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 10:54:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/there-is-an-attempt-to-create-a-chilling-effect-greenpeace-chief/article6578602.ece

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