For the past two days we have had a number of meetings with both government and NGOs (non-governmental organizations, i.e. non-profits). Some interesting and some disheartening.
I will not give specifics to protect the innocent and the…not so innocent.
We had a meeting with the Secretary Department of Environment National Capitol Delhi – who well, let’s just say was quite a character. He seemed to be completely unaware that India was receiving electronic waste (e-waste) from the U.S. As he stated emphatically, this is a violation of the Basel Convention signed by India.
Understandably, anyone would be curious about why we would ask another government about something that is completely illegal. However, we do know that India is one of the top 10 places California exports e-waste. He also mentioned the continuing problem of countries shipped e-waste under the guise of reuse.
We met with Dr. Lakshmi with the Society for Development Alternatives. Their organization works mostly on policy. What I found truly refreshing was the recognition of the need for a variety of methods to solve problems – whether it be policy, campaigning , etc. that everyone needs to work together.
Today we also met with Dr. Shyamala Mani with the Centre for Environment Education who probably out of everyone we have met, seemed to have a similar vision as us and Chintan on what needs to be done and the need to integrate the informal sector. From there we had a meeting at TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute). The person who runs the organization is Dr. R K Pachauri who received the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
Just to synthesize my thoughts on all of this…it seems that the information sector needs assistance to create the infrastructure they need to have safe working and living conditions to protect them, their communities and the environment. My feeling is the corporations need to be held responsible and invest in them.
This has all been very interesting and although we have been meeting with a variety of NGO’s (from large to small) and government officials, we are definitely getting a detailed idea on what is happening here in the recycle realm. In some ways, a number of the problems exist both in the U.S. and in India – getting people to recycle, the safety conditions of those dismantling the electronics and the problems of obsolescence. It seems to me, that is behooves the corporations to recognize that they are creating a global crisis and the power is in their hands to change it.
In other news, we saw monkeys!! Real live monkeys – maybe less than a foot or so away from me. They were sliding down the lamppost. About 6 – they scared me! But I was entranced and barely had time to snap a picture or two. And then here at the hostel, I have fallen in love with a cute orange kitten. (don’t tell my cat Malcolm!).
Although it is hard to get past the suffering and the poverty – it is easy to find things here to make you smile.
-Lauren Ornelas (Campaign Director of SVTC)