First published http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1923
While condemning the short detention of Anna Hazare and his colleagues, it is nevertheless pertinent to understand what the Magsaysay Award really is, especially in the wake of the United States’ official support to the anti-corruption agitation led by three Magsaysay awardees (Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal).
Washington is a government that creates and protects systemic corporate corruption across the world; a military machine that is at perpetual war with the militarily weak countries of the global south; a regime that is at the root of most of the corporate loot in India; a regime that is rapidly making the planet uninhabitable; a regime to which Manmohan Singh’s government is readily obedient.
The game plan might look confusing - for Manmohan Singh too is America’s best friend - but it is simple enough if one looks at the preceding game plans. For example: Mossad and the CIA trained the Sri Lankan military and the LTTE at the same time (and called both of them ‘monkeys’). Then there was America’s strategy of fiercely manufacturing jihadi terrorism in Afghanistan to fight the USSR, and its subsequent use of the presence of the jihadis as an alibi for occupying and destroying the country.
Now let us come straight to the three Magsaysay awardees.
Late Ramon Magsaysay was a former president of The Philippines. But the award, though in his name and in his honour, is not an official award of The Philippines government, but one that is funded and run by the Rockefeller Foundation, out of Manila to be sure, with some local faces accommodated on the Board. And its youth award (given to Kejriwal) is funded by a bird of the same feather - the Ford Foundation.
Cultivating and promoting ‘society leaders’ who one way or the other stand up for American ‘values’ and help remove the social space for those who challenge American hegemony that is at the root of a multitude of world problems, is the long term purpose of the award. It can also be used for short term goals, such as precipitating a domestic crisis. [The current face-off at Ramlila Maidan could be said to represent such a manufactured crisis].
Magsaysay is also given as reward to those who stand for American interests. As an example, consider the invaluable collection of India’s rice germ-plasm assiduously built at the Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, which was taken away by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) located on the banks of the beautiful Laguna lake about two hours drive from Manila.
The Rockefeller Foundation was instrumental in establishing the IRRI for the western agri-business corporations, to have a firm grip on rice cultivation in Asia. And the man who helped IRRI deprive India of its precious rice germ-plasm collection was later made the head of IRRI and rewarded with the Magsaysay [a rich purse], and subsequently made chairman of the award committee.
The name Ramon Magsaysay did not come to the Ford Foundation by accident. If it was to honour the values of freedom and commitment to the people, they should have gone for the name of Jose Rizal, the most revered Philipino leader, but they did not do that. Ramon Magsaysay steadfastly stood for American interests both in The Philippines and the Southeast Asia region. The 1953 presidential election that Magsaysay won was entirely manipulated by the CIA to put him in that position. Nick Cullather of Stanford University says in his book Illusions of Influence: The Political Economy of United States-Philippines Relations, 1942-1960, ‘The US flagrantly intervened in the 1953 election. The list of CIA dirty tricks, by one account, included money laundering, arson, and blackmail, but ironically these depredations fail to convey the scope of the interference. The election was all about the United States’.
Magsaysay was considered a great asset by America in fighting communist movements. He happily worked for America to set up the dangerous SEATO (Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty) military alliance, although it had hardly any takers within the region (only the kingdom of Thailand and the vassal state of Pakistan).
America unsuccessfully used him to spoil the 1955 Bandung Conference that led to the birth of the Non-Alignment Movement. He refused to go Bandung (like his mentor John Dulles, the US Secretary of State) in deference to American interests, but sent a representative who argued for American interests, giving lone company to the US envoy there. I wonder how many of our civil society groups and journalists who get excited at the very mention of the Magsaysay Award know how Ramon had attempted to malign the image of Jawaharlal Nehru (and NAM) by describing the Non Aligned Movement as a springboard of communism, because they were angered by Nehru’s criticism of SEATO.
Ramon Magsaysay is honoured by the US for nothing but his ‘courageous stand against communism in the Far East’. And the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations’ award in his name is meant to promote that old purpose in a sustained and discrete manner.
The three Magsaysay awardees, owning multiple well-funded NGOs, live up to the expectations of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations; and now the US government has officially chipped in, though it is simultaneously trying to distance itself belatedly in the face of a strong official reaction from New Delhi.
Where do we, the real people of India, the owners of the Republic and the authors of the Constitution, stand, thrown as we are between a US bent, colonialism’s apologist Manmohan Singh and the Three Magsaysay musketeers?
God, if there is one, save the country.
Dr S Faizi is an ecologist specialising in international environmental policy.
Also read Foreign Funding of Indian NGO’s
•FCRA report 2008 -09
•FCRA report 2007-08