Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Reflections from space law conference in India


My long-time friend JV Prabhakar hands me flowers at the Visakhapatnam, India airport as Peter Kuznick (American University Professor of History from Washington DC) on left in blue and I just arrived.  On the right side is Dr. Aruna Kammila (Global Network board member and organizer of the space law conference at the DSNLU law university.)

My flight from Newark, NJ was 13 hours to Mumbai with a seven-hour layover before catching the flight to Visakhapatnam.  When we arrived we were treated to a traditional southern India meal at the law school cafeteria and then went to bed where I slept like a new born baby.

The conference was opened by a terrific welcoming speech by Professor S. Surya Prakash, Vice-Chancellor of the DSNLU law university.  He made a moving connection between space exploitation for profit and degradation of the Earth as humans have lost their spiritual connection to our mother planet.  When I rose to speak I noted that I have attended many conferences over the years and usually most welcoming words from university leaders are perfunctory with little substance.  On this occasion the welcomes by Prof. Prakash, and another by his mentor Prof. A. Subrahmanam, were full of substance and were deeply connected to the subject at hand.  It was an important beginning .

The hall was full of students and faculty from 20 law universities across India.  Throughout the first day students and faculty from these law schools each made presentations on various aspects of space law.  After the students made their presentations a panel of faculty members from schools in Kolkata and Bhopal critiqued the student presentations.

I was surprised and happy that during breaks students would approach me with questions concerning space issues - my thoughts on Mars colonization, the use of nuclear power in space, could they intern at the Global Network - and as I began to answer the questions crowds of students formed to hear my responses.  Simply amazing.

In one discussion I lamented how it was so costly and wasteful that individual nations are organizing their own space exploration programs rather than having one program representing all of humanity from our tiny spinning satellite called Earth.  One student commented to me, "The problem sir is that we don't trust the US thus we must do our own space program."  That observation speaks for itself - sad but dripping with reality. I constantly raised the question - what kind of seed are we carrying with us as we venture off into the heavens? 

India now has a robust space program and recently launched a moon mission.  India is soon to become the most populated nation on Earth with over 300 million living in poverty.

I was handed a cell phone by another Global Network member, Prabhu Yadev from Nepal, who had one of our most revered GN board members J. Narayana Rao from Nagpur, India on the line.  Rao, a retired railway union worker, is the father of the peace in space movement in India.  For many years he has been traveling across this country organizing students and faculty to learn about space issues.  Due to cancer treatments he was unable to attend the conference here but I am certain he would be reduced to tears of pride if he had been able to come.

Today we will continue with even more presentations.  We will hear from Peter Kuznick and Global Network board members Lindis Percy (UK) and Subrata Ghoshroy (MIT in Boston).

I'll post my own speech soon with more photos as I get them.  I still do not have a cell phone - out of rebellion over the expense and health implications.  Thus I must rely on others to provide me with photos.  When I went through immigration in Mumbai the man working at the station checking my Visa and passport was stunned that I left blank the space for cell phone number.  I'm likely one of the few people in the world without such a device.

Bruce

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