Indian community activists have joined Australia’s Bob Brown Foundation in condemning coal mining company Adani’s funding of today’s Gandhi celebration in Brisbane.
Adani is a ‘Ahimsa’ funder of the celebration of the 150th birthday of Gandhi on 2 October 1869. The event involves a convoy of cars driving from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane and will culminate in a ceremony at Brisbane’s Gandhi statue this afternoon.
A community group in India’s central state of Chhattisgarh has called Adani’s involvement an empty publicity stunt: “We at Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan believe that Adani’s attempt to support events in the name of Gandhi is merely a PR stunt. Instead of sponsoring events and doing empty publicity stunts, Adani would be well-advised to reflect and try and imbibe some of Gandhian values in its business strategy and practices.”
Yesterday in Brisbane, former Greens senator Bob Brown said Adani, currently having non-violent citizens arrested for protesting his Galilee Basin coal mine, is leeching off Gandhi’s reputation.
The Chhattisgarh group has echoed this sentiment: “It is most ironical that a corporate that is well on the way to ravage the Hasdeo Arand forests and destroying the life, livelihood, and identity of thousands of adivasis and other forest dwellers in Chhattisgarh, is associated with any event organized in the memory of revered Gandhiji whose entire life was driven by a message of peace, respect for humanity, and a deep respect towards mother nature. His talisman of determining the worth of any action by its impact on the poorest and weakest person, has been the guiding light of Indian society. However, Adani’s business practices in India, and Hasdeo Arand in particular, are in sharp contrast to such Gandhian values. Adani has had a deeply troublesome history of unrestrained exploitation of India’s rich natural resources, marginalization of local communities and their legal and constitutional rights, blatant disregard for environmental safeguards, and unbridled suppression of non-violent resistance against its projects. The only values Adani seems to be driven by are corporate greed, and blind pursuit of profits.” (Full statement below.)
Bob Brown Foundation supports the honouring of Gandhi and held its own commemorative ceremony at the Brisbane Gandhi statue yesterday. “But billionaire Gautam Adani is the polar opposite to Mahatma Gandhi and today’s event is tarnished by Adani’s money. The organisers should hand it back,” Brown said.
Gandhi said: I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan statement here
Media coverage in India over the controversial sponsorship here