Indian activist: G8 called to outline "future development of peoples"
by Nirmala Carvalho
In an interview with AsiaNews, Lenin Raghuvashi considers the G8, the global food crisis and inflation, the emergence of India and China, the prophetic words of the pope. And the problems of India, which spends more on its public debt than on health and education.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - "This G8 meeting taking place in Japan is very important as it is a very powerful decision making body, and also involves the world's leading charities". The difficult situation of India, the global economic crisis, the "prophetic" appeal from Pope Benedict XVI: an exclusive interview with Lenin Raghuvanshi, well-known activist and winner of the prestigious Gwangju Prize for human rights.

According to Mr Raghuvanshi, "The G8 encompasses all spheres of influential policy making bodies of the world, like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and other major bodies. These are important times, when there is a serious issue of inequalities in the world - inflation (food and fuel crisis), climate change, environmental degradation, poverty eradication and social conflicts - in this context, we need to examine the role and policies of this powerful body (G8).

"Human rights defenders like me have three major concerns with reference to this important meeting: inequalities in the world created because of the food and fuel crisis; social degradation due to poverty and environmental degradation, consequences of big dams and urban policies which compound the pollution to the environment; and climate change.

"Terrorism is an issue of grave importance, but how will the G8 address terrorism arising out of social conflict - what will be their role on the issue of social conflict? The world needs social justice, peace, and religious freedom, and the lack of this gives rise to social conflict.

"India pays more than 26% of GDP on debt, while our education budget is 5%, and 1% for health. India is paying most heavily on its military and returning interest on debt. Such gross allocation of funds is a strain on the economy, and results in severely curtailing welfare schemes and has a direct effect on poverty eradication programmes, hurting most the needs of the weakest and poorest populations.

"The G8 must pay attention to more than just economic and military questions. The G8 club are the elite 20% of the world, using 80% of world resources and responsible for 78% of pollution, hence these G8 people have to engage in serious dialogue with nation states.

"Given that third world countries and poorer nations are in the debt trap of the IMF and World Bank, however, the World Bank and the IMF while giving loans to the poorer nations dictate terms to them controlling their policy making bodies, especially in the agriculture sector, textile policies and other major policies. Pope Benedict is prophetic in sending a message to the G8 in Japan hoping that generosity and farsightedness may help lead to decisions capable of relaunching a fair process of comprehensive development, in protection of human dignity. His predecessor Pope John Paul II during the Jubilee year 2000 spearheaded the request for the G7 nations to wipe out the debts of the African nations. The contours of the world economy have changed dramatically over the last decade, and China and India wield substantial clout in the global market. And today the G8 is compelled to acknowledge that the global balance of power is changing. The G8 must reconsider the pressing matters of poverty alleviation, rights of the common people, inequity in the world, social conflict, the common good of every human being on this world today, to ensure sustainable development and the human dignity of our future generations".