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: Bath, Maine, United States

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.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Remembering Rao in pictures



During Keep Space for Peace Week J. Narayana Rao in Nagpur, India always organized many events to educate people across his community about space issues. His work spread across India.

 J. Narayana Rao Presente!

In remembrance and celebration of J. Narayana Rao from Nagpur, India – Global Network Board Member and our dear friend, colleague and comrade who sadly passed away during the Covid pandemic. 

By Bruce K. Gagnon & Dave Webb

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 and strong support.

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. Needless to say I was very impressed.

Rao was from a village near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

In 1958 he went to work for the Indian Railways and joined the Railway Trade Union movement. While in Railway Service and in the Railway Trade Union he was attracted to the peace movement and joined the All India Peace & Solidarity Organization (AIPSO) in 1982.  AIPSO is an Indian affiliate of the World Peace Council.  

Rao’s zeal to work against nuclear weapons, war, and to support the struggles of the developing countries against imperialist domination led him to believe that unless women and youth are brought into the peace movement there would not be a real movement in India.

With this idea he took the initiative to establish the National Association of Indian Women for Peace and Development and Indian Youth for Peace and Development.

He retired from Railway service in 1994 and after retirement established the Southeast Central Railway Pensioners Association and served as General Secretary. 

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

He organized space issue conferences numerous times in various Indian cities and invited various GN leaders 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.

Rao was also the organizer of our 2016 speaking tour throughout India & Nepal. GN board members Dave Webb (UK) and Will Griffin (US) were on the trip as well.

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. I took the opportunity to express my deep love and admiration to him. As it turned out it was the last time I would speak to Rao other than on email.

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 attempting to turn the Indian government into an ally against China. India is also becoming a major space power. India's health budget is around $30 billion while they spend $49.6 billion on their military.

Unfortunately Rao was eventually taken by the Covid Corona virus on 18th May. On June 2, 2021 (Rao’s birthday) a Zoom meeting was held for family, friends and fellow members of the Global Network – many wonderful tributes to Rao were made. During the Zoom memorial Rao’s granddaughter paid him the ultimate compliment when she said, “He stepped beyond his abilities”.

Rao will always be remembered by us for his wisdom and understanding, his great organizing skills, his dedication to the cause of peace and for his many other qualities. He was a humble man but extremely effective in his work – he will live long in our hearts and memories.

He was one of our greatest leaders. 


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