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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The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

J. Narayana Rao: Key Global Network leader


Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao (front row left side of banner) during a previous Keep Space for Peace Week event in Nagpur, India

In the late 1990's the Global Network held our annual space organizing meeting in Darmstadt, Germany (1997 & 1999). At one of those two meetings J. Narayana Rao from Nagpur, India showed up for the first time. To this day I don't remember how Rao heard about the GN but somehow he did and we were very lucky to have his membership.

When Rao arrived in Darmstadt he handed me a couple space issue journals that he had put together at his own expense and distributed throughout India.  

Rao's career was with the Indian railway and he was a leader in the union.  He was also long active with the Indian Communist Party and with Gandhian organizations.

In 2006 Rao organized a speaking tour throughout India for Mary Beth Sullivan and I. While on this  trip Rao took us to the Gandhi Ashram Sevagram. 

Several times over the years he organized speaking trips for me and other GN leaders.

He organized space issue conferences numerous times in various Indian cities (the one pictured below was in 2010 in Nagpur) and invited various GN members to speak at the events.  All the while he was reaching out to Indian political leaders, academics, union members, students, media and others with our message.


One of the most memorable speaking tours Rao organized was when he took me north to Kashmir during a time of martial law.  Just the trip there was a miracle in itself.

In 2019 a space law conference was held in Visakhapatnam at the DSNLU law university and organized by Dr. Aruna Kammila who Rao had earlier brought to the GN. This historic event was the first time that I am aware of where the agenda was to discuss the need for space law to prevent warfare and the colonization of planetary bodies for private profit. The hall was full of students and faculty from 20 law universities across India.  It was a great tribute to Rao's vision and determination.

At that time Rao had just had a serious illness and operation and could not come to the conference. I was able to talk with him on the telephone and share with him how well the event was going.

The organizer of our 2016 trip to India & Nepal was J. Narayana Rao (right) with GN board convener Dave Webb (UK) (left). Will Griffin joined us on that trip as well.  

These days India is having a terrible time with the Covid virus. The country has little public healthcare. Agri-business corporations like Monsanto are attempting to destroy India's long tradition of village farming. Much of the huge population in India has become 'expendable' in the eyes of its corporate friendly government. A 'modern brand' of neo-feudalism is now replacing India's hard fought for democracy - much like the rest of today's world.

The US is turning the Indian government into an ally against China. India is also becoming a major space power. 

India's health budget is about $30 billion this year while they spend $49.6 billion on their military.


Rao (center) with other GN leaders in Visakhapatnam


Rao is like a father figure to me and many others in the GN. One of my fondest memories of him was in 2008 when we held our annual space conference in Nebraska. We began the trip first in Colorado Springs with a protest outside the annual space symposium sponsored by the mega-aerospace industry. We then drove in a blinding snowstorm to Omaha, Nebraska. Rao was in the back seat of the car watching vehicles slide off the road into snow drifts. I asked him what he thought of it. His response was memorable as he said, "No one in Nagpur will ever believe what I am now seeing."

Rao is one of the best leaders/organizers that we've ever had in the Global Network. During these days of Covid lockdown, and still recovering from his surgery, we send him our very best wishes for full recovery.



Anonymous said...

I have met him many times in Nepal, India and aboard. I was presented a paper on Struggle against information-age
terrorism on Global Network 23rd Annual Conference/International seminar on space and peace dated 29 July -August 2, 2015 ,Kyoto, Japan Organized by Global network against weapons and Nuclear power in space. Without his cooperation, I was unable to participate in this program. I am very much impressed on him. Dr. JN Rao is one of the best leaders/organizers that we've ever had in the Global Network. During these days of Covid lockdown, and still recovering from his surgery, we send him our very best wishes for full recovery, healthy and happiness.

5/25/21, 11:54 AM  
Blogger Bruce K. Gagnon said...

Sadly Rao passed away just days ago from Covid in Nagpur. We will surely miss him very much.

5/25/21, 12:13 PM  

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