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A Global Battleground

A Global Battleground

Economic and Political weekly

Xavier Dias.

September 10, 1994

The Gulliver File, Mines, People and Land a global Battleground by Roger Moody; Minewatch, London, distributed by Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA, UK;

In 1981, Charles Barbour, vice chair of the American Mining Congress, in response to emerging environment, land rights and third world restrictions, placed on the mining industry complained: ” Like Gulliver, the mining industry is a robust giant held down by million silk strings”. An exasperated Charles Barbour gave Roger Moody the idea for the title of this giantic task he ventured on to write, taking 20 years to accomplish. The Guliver file devouring over 894 pages of paper, listing 667 major mining and mineral companies and an equal number of smaller ones, has thus become an event in the history of environmental and land rights struggles of the people all over the world, especially the indigenous nations. The Gulliver File was selected by the Guardian newspaper (UK), as one of its ten best environmental books of 1992.

With the structural adjustment programmes and the globalisation of our markets, it has become imperative that we know the antecedents and the pedigree of these big conglomerates. Thakazhi Shivasankara Pillai, in his famous novel The Scavengers Son, writes about the information the scavengers collect of their masters diet and health, just by raking through the baskets of night soil. Roger Moody gets his information not only from the horse’s mouth – but also from its rear, the tribal indigenous organisations, trade unions, conscious employees, pressure groups and similar sources. The Gulliver file is therefore an encyclopedia on the ownership / partnership, genealogy, global operations and facts on specific mining operations that companies would like to hide . this is in wide contrast to the Financial Times Mining International Year Book , which depends on the mining companies themselves for the information and data supplied making it a mere directory or ‘ yellow pages’ to suit their own needs.

The Gulliver File carries detailed information on the companies, their subsidiaries and associates, how they acquired mineral rich lands, their influence over the politics of the state and their strong arm local tactics that undermine the very democratic institutions these companies swear by. We, in India, will be encountering some of these companies very soon and their benign names camouflage their true character – 11 of them are named after Christian Saints! The book has some information too for those debating on an alternative mining or mineral policy within and outside the present development paradigm. In the case of the Nana Regional Corporation, a native corporation of the Inuit nation in Canada. “Nana has also developed a regional strategy aimed at carrying Native proposals into action”. For trade unions and adivasi organisations in India, there is a lot of useful information, in dealing with these companies. Our mines and minerals are now open to private / foreign companies. On February 26, 1994, in the steel city of Jamshedpur the state minister of mines and minerals Shankar Prasad Tekriwal at a press conference announced that four gold mines have been discovered in Singhbhum district, Bihar, and the state government was contemplating giving them to private parties. Therefore, the book is essential reading for all seeking information to screen these companies as they enter India with the backing of our government, their billion dollar publicity blitz and glittering technology in the post ‘desert storm’ era. However, the Gulliver File is limited to only a section of the mining industry – the heavy metals. There are still other avenues of the mineral industry where information is scarce: the mining technologies know-how, the equipment, the marketing, the cartels etc.. Add to this the fact that mining and mineral industry is just a fraction of the global market. It is frightening to realize how little we know about the pharmaceutical, the bio-technological, the electronics, the agricultural and the consumer industry.