Indian Activist Patkar at UT
The nonviolent peace movement has a superstar of sorts hitting town this week. In an appearance arranged at the last minute, Indian social activist Medha Patkar will speak on Tuesday, Nov. 4 on the UT campus. While certainly not a household name here in the U.S., Patkar is quite well known in Asia as the leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement), which has been fighting for two decades to prevent the dislocation of hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples losing their land to large dams on India's Narmada River. "This is a rare chance to hear directly from someone on the cutting edge of resistance to the reckless uses of state and private power that threaten so many lives and livelihoods," says UT journalism professor Robert Jensen, one of the speech organizers.
In a recent debate on PBS, supporters of the dam projects argued that the dams will generate electricity for millions of people, create jobs, provide power-free pollution, and modernize depressed regions, but opponents including Patkar countered that massive displacement of people and damage to fish stocks, soil, and cultural artifacts will be the only "benefits" to the region's residents, and that the jobs will likely go to nonlocals.
Patkar's lecture at UT will be titled "Who Pays for Progress?" and will focus on policies that inhibit sustainable development and people's nonviolent struggles for social justice. Patkar has been the recipient of the Right to Livelihood Award (known to some activists as the "alternative Nobel Prize"), the Goldman Environmental Prize, and a Human Rights Defenders Award from Amnesty International. Along the way, her nonviolent protests (including hunger strikes) have been met with what her supporters say are "often violent" police responses.
Patkar will speak on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 7:30pm, in the LBJ Auditorium in Sid Richardson Hall (part of the LBJ Library complex at Red River and 26th). For more info, call 695-7983 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.