Life-long contribution of Smitu Kothari to people's movements

Life-long contribution of Smitu Kothari to people's movements

Resolves to carry forward his vision for a just and pro-poor development

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) joined other people's movements in expressing its shock and grief at the most untimely demise of Smitu Kothari, one of the most active, progressive and consistent voices against the neo-liberal anti-poor agenda of privatization, globalization and liberalization in recent times. A widely respected scholar, visiting academic at the Cornell and Princeton Universities, author of several publications on contemporary socio-political and economic discourses and above all an indomitable activist, Smitu Kothari, 59 passed away early this week owing to a cardiac attack after having undergone a heart surgery at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. The cremation was held at Lodi Road electric Crematorium in South Delhi at 4pm on the 23rd March 2009.

The most unexpected stroke came when Smitu was at a meeting of the Delhi Solidarity Group and Himalaya Niti Abhiyan to discuss strategies for strengthening the people's struggles in Himachal Pradesh against displacement, mining and environmental destruction on the 20th afternoon, from where he was rushed to the AIIMS and was discharged the same day as his ECG was found to be normal. However he was again hospitalized a day later due to arterial complications and succumbed during the post-operative care.

One of the founders of Lokayan ("Dialogue of the People"), and Intercultural Resources, two centres in Delhi promoting exchange between non-party political formations and concerned scholars and other citizens from India and the rest of the world, he was actively involved in ecological, cultural and human rights issues striving to collectively forge a national and global alternative that is socially just and ecologically sane and in this capacity has been vigorously pursuing multifarious academic and activist initiatives. Development induced displacement, people’s governance and social-environmental movements were some of his core concerns. He was also one of the striving spirits behind the Independent People's Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India held in 2007.

Smitu has also been a long time vocal supporter of the struggle of the thousands of adivasis, farmers, labourers, fishworkers, potters and all the project-affected people in the Narmada valley and articulated their concerns at various fora both within India and across continents.

A truly loving person, Smitu continues to be a source of inspiration not just for people's movements and struggles in India, but also to voices of dissent and alternatives across the globe. NBA expresses its heartfelt condolences to Smitu's extended family of activists, supporters and all peace and justice loving people. We salute his decades of invaluable contribution to diverse people's movements and resolves to take forward his message and commitment to come together and be united against all odds and strengthen our collective force for justice.

Medha Patkar
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)