Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Confederation of Indian Agitators

As far back as I can remember we always wanted to establish and own a NGO. By ‘we’, I mean my friends and me who had just finished some education. Apart from our jobs we spent evenings devising ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes. We spent a lot of time on what type of NGO to create. One idea was to make a NGO and build a temple in some popular street corner. The temple could get bigger slowly and the little coins and notes would flow and keep increasing by the day. Then we wouldn’t have to work at all. But when it came to it we didn’t have the guts to do something that illegal so we dropped it. (Good choice too. That ‘communal’ Narendra Modi destroyed a lot of illegal temples). Another one was to create a NGO to educate rural folks on fertiliser use. That could get us funds from Govt, NABARD and even fertiliser companies. But we couldn’t tell fertilisers from cow-dung so we dropped that. There were many more. Seriously, all we wanted was lots of money and few big cars. We wanted to work 3 months and earn a year’s money. What is so wrong about that? And we wanted to spend weekends at luxury resorts. We wanted luxury trips to foreign countries at others’ expense and give speeches at seminars during spare time on the trip. How is all that unfair at all?

Turned out we weren’t brainy enough for those schemes and are stuck to earning money the stupid way – the honest way. When we now chat sometimes we realise how foolish we were in missing an important bus. We could have had a NGO, gotten rich and have done nothing special. All we had to do was to gather a bunch of people and agitate. Did I hear you ask “agitate for what”? Oh come on, we are a constitutionally “socialist” democracy, we can agitate for anything. Street lamps, pot holes, factory workers, farmers, water shortage, floods, health, politics, slum dwellers, hunger, mal-nutrition, riots, justice, transport, trees, forests, flyovers, pollution, late trains, even dams and nuclear plants. Like a 5-Star restaurant we could create an À la carte menu for agitations. We could have been somebody, we could have been famous. And we were, still are, good public speakers. We could have given great speeches and great sound bites for TV. We could have even manufactured ‘reality agitations’ made for TV. Rajdeep Sardesai would have taken pictures with us with our autographs and proclaimed “Great images. Gnight”. I could have written a book and won the Broker Prize instead of writing a blog.

We look at Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Teesta Setalvad, Medha Patkar and many more and regret our miserable lives. Back then a dream groom for parents was an IAS officer and he commanded a huge dowry. Now look at what 21st century has done. Even Harsh Mander gives up his IAS job and creates a NGO. Yeah, even Kejriwal gave up a govt job and created a NGO. Lately, Uday Kumar and Chittarupa Palit have managed better than anyone could dream of. They have introduced great new concepts to agitations. See? Even in this business there is room for innovation. The most inspiring of agitations has to be the Chipko Movement of the early 70s. This was one where villagers hugged trees to protect them from being felled by greedy de-foresters. The history of Chipko movement seems older and there are references to the movement from 1906, 1921 and 1940.

According to Wikipedia the Chipko movement is older than our freedom movement. “The first recorded event of Chipko took place in village Khejarli, Jodhpur district, in 1731, when 363 Bishnois, led by Amrita Devi while protecting green Khejri trees, considered sacred by the community, by hugging them, and braved the axes of loggers sent by the local ruler”. Damn! Even in 1731 it was a woman. One should have known. And the tradition of that brave woman has been followed by many modern day women. Historians are still debating whether Amrita Devi owned a Pajero or a Toyota and if she had a Ph.D. from Cambridge, JNU or AMU. But historians do confirm she studied at the LSE (Luni School of Economics). I’m not kidding, Luni is a prominent town in Jodhpur district. And she spoke English as fluently as Lord Megmoron. For her brilliant efforts Amrita Devi was also appointed member of the MAC (Mughal Advisory Council). Yeah, it was known by that name then.

But nobody, nobody beats Chittarupa Palit (Also spelt Chittaroopa sometimes) in leading agitations. She seems to be a protégé of Medha Patkar from the Narmada Bachchao Andolan (NBA). She gathered some villagers in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh and organised a Jal Satyagraha to protest some dam. She wanted lands and compensation for the displaced villagers. Noble! So she got some people to immerse themselves in water. Sometimes knee-deep, sometimes waist-deep, sometimes neck-deep, sometimes….. But in all those 14-17 days of being sunk, Chittarupa was always fresh as fish to speak to the media. No matter what the courts say people like Medha, Chittarupa, Teesta, Uday Kumar are instant heroes on TV. Here’s an excerpt from a Times of India report:

Welcome to the village which was in the eye of the storm with 'jal satyagrah' for the past three weeks… It's a story of how the entire media was taken for a ride with the help of mobile phones, which came in handy for keeping tabs on TV crews. The spot shown on TV channels where the agitators protested is not the village proper but the banks of a canal running into the Narmada…When TOI inspected the place of demonstration after the water receded, the spot was found to be only two feet deep… "We were sitting in water," said Mehtab Giri, a villager who joined the protest. "First, we laid bricks and stone slabs on which were placed iron doors used for sluice gates of the dam. This would help us sit comfortably during the protest… "Whenever the media took shots, the second arrangement in the slightly deeper water was used. Agitators waded into water to show the level sometimes chin-deep and at others, neck-deep. When they stood up, it was hardly till their waist." And they weren't in water all the time; they frequently walked in and out of the canal"… there were only three people in the water most of the time… The third was NBA worker Chittarupa Palit, who also walked out to brief the media and file documents. Others took turns. The evidence is all in the television shots"…

Nice, isn’t it? I wonder how Palit makes her living or where she gets her money from. She’s living my dreams. That’s alright, even Arvind Kejriwal rubbished the information that he was funded by Ford Foundation. He did agree that he received funds from them. So what! Even Amrita Devi of that Chipko thing received funds from Ford Foundation in 1731. That brings us to Dr. Uday Kumar, lead agitator against the Kudankulam Nuclear plant. This agitation seems to have received over 50 crores from various Christian Church organisations. Despite Supreme Court orders, despite govt assuring them about safety of the plant Uday Kumar started another round of agitations recently. This time, taking a leaf out of Chittarupa’s book he drove the agitators into the sea for another round of aqua agitation. In the end the poor villagers may end up where they started before the agitations. Some even get killed when the agitations turn violent. “Nameless heads on frameless walls” as a famous artist said. The only ones getting rich and famous are those English-speaking urbanites who run this agitation industry. What's criminal? Agitations are fine but both Chittarupa Palit and Uday Kumar, in their 'possessed' frame of mind had endangered lives of people.

And, of course, based on this farcical agitation and fraudulent immersions, TV channels like TimesNow and CNN-IBN aired the “choreographed” images 24X7 .. 14 days in water, 15 days, 16 days, 17 days. And when the MP govt announced a package they even claimed “TimesNow Impact” and “CNN-IBN Impact”. That’s how foolish our media is and that’s how they try to fool people. I don’t grudge the packages given to the villagers by the MP govt. There’s no harm in that. It’s the methods of the NGO that should have been investigated and reported by these channels. Oh incidentally, both MP and TN are Non-Congress states. That is enough said.

In case you haven't heard, over the last decade or so there are many NGOs created whose job is to just channel funds. They are NGO ‘fund raisers’. Some are even supported by banks. They collect funds from Indians, NRIs and others and channel those funds to the NGOs of the choice of the donor. Their earnings come from commissions from the funds donated. Pretty much like a Stock Broker isn’t it? And these brokers are also passed off as NGOs rather than as commercial businesses. If you plan to start a NGO it might make sense to get yourself registered with one of the brokers.

My friends and I have decided to give it a final shot. Having failed to agitate over anything we have decided to establish the CIA. No, not that CIA. This is the ‘Confederation of Indian Agitators’. This would act as the Apex body of all Agitation-NGOs. We will lobby to get the govt to make it mandatory for all Agitation-NGOs to first be registered with and recognised by CIA for any valid dialogue with them. You see, we then get membership fees, donations, foreign funds, Church funds, govt funds, private funds, hawala funds. And all that without ever having to agitate. Don’t you dare steal this idea now

Caution: The post is not a comment on all NGOs. Many of them are doing commendable work worthy of applause.


  1. First of all thanks for exposing NGOs. They are no different than any government organisations. Want to make money to fulfill desires we all ask for like flashy cars, flats, luxury holidays. Nothing wrong except like Dongi Babax they too exploit the poor and vulnerable. One serious observation I have is the preparedness of Atomic Energy Authorities to manage disaster like that of Japan. While the whole world is moving away from nuclear power generation, due to Health and Safety issues, we in India are eager to embrace it to please Yanks. I feel very saddened to see what is happening to India. We have American Looby, Russian Lobby, Pakistani Lobby, Chinese Lobby, Arab Lobby and EU lobby spread all over Delhi, but Alas no Indian Lobby to protect Indians and India.

  2. Ek to ye converts desh ko kha gaye hain..converted christians, converted muslims, converted what not..bc no iron hand and no iron will to deal with such menace.. day by day we are becoming and ultra soft state with 'over-democarcy'. a strong nation may or may not be just but a just nation is never strong. everyday such lesser known NGOs with dubious and highly illegal funding sources are undermining the govt authority on many critical and sensitive matters. first it was some raza academy in mumbai violence and then this christian NGO in TamilNadu, some NGo in MP. what the fuck is happening? and instead of slapping some strong law against these persons, the govt is doing nothing.

  3. Dear Ravinar

    Although you have written a p.s that "The post is not a comment on all NGOs" but your whole article has actually an effort to tarnish the image of literally all NGOs.

    Protest is also a kind of social work which has to be done when government doesn't listen to you.

    You are doing a commendable job by exposing Media crooks, infect your previous article itself said that your focus is only on that. Would appreciate if you keep your focus instead of destroying the image of NGOs in India.


    1. Dear Maneesh,

      I would only like to state that all the true NGO's in this country would never have any exposure on Television Media's. Believe me, the real NGO's doing commendable social work don't care if they are shown on Television because where they work, i.e amongst the Tribals & Poor they would not have any access to Television news channels. So please don't worry about their image being tarnished.

  4. Dear Ravinar,

    Thanks for raising this topic of NGO money making industry. You could have easily referred to the Anti NAMO Gujarat Cottage Industry but you must have avoided it to keep the focus.
    But I would still like to bring to everyones notice the farce of Narmada Bachao Andolan which had continued for many decades by these fake NGO's & headed by Medha Patkar. The whole Narmada project which has given a new life to Gujarat was been criticised by these NGO's with reasoning that it would destroy the Adivasis without any compensation. It was clear that the Congress party was trying to stall this project so as to blame BJP Govt in Gujarat. The Congress & their Chamcha NGO's got a good slap in this too as also in their anti NAMO cottage industry.

  5. @ Maneesh

    There are certain NGOs who are as dangerous for the country as media crooks. The post hardly talks about a few NGOs and not all NGOs. Secondly, the media IS the context in these. That the media used fraudulent images to cover the protests shouldn't be lost. Isnt't it surprising that while the Times TV channel screamed about the protests their print edition quietly reports the truth somewhere else?

  6. Regarding Khandwa agitation, is it that the Tv journalists are so dumb that they could not see that the water was just 2 feet deep or did also play along with the fraudsters? If so, what motvated them to play along? Interesting while Times Now was playing along, TOI exposed the fraud! Don't they talk to each other?
    It is not Jal Satyagraha, but Chal Satyagraha

  7. I come from MP, Indore and have been watching this whole drama since many years...my two cents

    1. local media (indore , bhopal) never covers alleged plight of Dam oustess (both during congress rule and bjp rule)

    2. there are allegations of huge financial bungling with S Kumar group during diggi rule. (extendig guarantees loans etc)

    3. Office of Narmada valley dev corpn is not in Khandwa or Hoshangabad but Indore (why on earth??)

    4. With the help of local level officials people did get overcompensation ,I personally know of cases when people showed 10 wells on 1 acre land and money for that
    but people who did not have land (e.g. village barber, pundit or other jajmanai workers ) were left out

    5. like Noida or gurgaon most of compensation money has been frittered away by people. These Ngo's should have focussed on that

    6. these tribal areas for long have been represented by non tribal or so called coopted tribal in MP politics. so outsider leadership was needed

    7. 2003 election was won of electricity and road issue so Uma Bharti got project completed which was stuck for many years...result we have cheap hydro power to the tune of 2000 MW already

    8. area in question has seen quantum jump in wheat production but once again canal construction has seen huge corruption.fact the MP lokayukta has sold his soul does not help

    9. all this neck deep and other things are crap...if once decides to go in a river and stand obviously he is gonna get hurt...no one pointed out these people had accepted compensation long long back and legally they have no case

    10. project has not generated employment for local people or equipped them to face new things.even fishery tender in reservoir has gone to outsiders

    11. just like cauvery dispute in south despite being upper riparian MP has been tardy in using Narmada water , I am not sure but there is some deadline which will fix traditional usage of water so this mad rush in MP to finish projects..at no other place in india cities (indore and bhopal) are being supplied water from a river (narmada) which flows 150 km away by pumping water to 600 ft.. electricity bill for such idiotic ventures come more than revenue of local municiplaities but people and media (naidunai and bhaskar) wholeheartedly support them

  8. These Christian NGOs/Churches had similarly opposed the construction of Konkan Railway in Goa,but better sense prevailed finally.Read History of Konkan Railway,these Catholic churches had created an utter mess in Goa.

  9. this comment is eye opener for chaps like me who are too young to remember konkan railway case..thanks for this..no one in media is highlighting role of missionaries in countless such agitations which were anti development and funded by money from abroad while even a valentine day disruption in a small town starts with babri demolition and compulsory mention of gujarat

  10. Here is the link to the History of Konkan Railways..the relevant controversy is on page 29.The book can be downloaded (54MB)


    Also find another link..



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