Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ice Cream and the ADB

The power of ice cream has never been denied, and today, its true power was revealed, rather like Superman ripping his shirt off to reveal a bright Red and Yellow logo, which said " The Asian Development Bank is contributing to the destruction of our environment by its continued funding of coal-powered energy projects," rather than just a simple 'S'.

I woke up around 5 in the morning because of great distress suffered by my lower limbs due to blood clot caused by the cramped position I was made to sleep in the entire night due to the antics of a certain woman named Shilpi who insisted on making her bus seat recline, insisting that she would not be able to sleep sitting up. And all this just to attend the 39th Annual Meeting of the Governors of the Asian Development Bank, which seems to be a measlier sibling of the World Bank, which like its senior, goes around loaning lots of poor governments money to hire foreign contractors who then proceed to build big smoke-belching power plants which contaminate the environment and make lots of poor people spend their lifetime savings on respiratory medicines from pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer.

Once in Hyderabad, went to the hotel, had a bath in boiling water, heated purely because the hotel's water tank seems to be on the roof, and in Hyderabad's 40 degree C, everything gets heated by solar power. Then left for the Hyderabad International Conference Centre, aptly acronymed into HICC (pronounced Hiss). The ADB Conference was being held there, and once we managed to successfully register ourselves as NGO delegates, as representatives from Greenpeace-affiliated Solar Generation, we entered the air-conditioned comfort of the hall, carrying our free laptop bags and 'Enjoy India' free gift, all sponsored by the funds generated by years of accumulated interest on the loans taken by governments to build their subsistence farmers coal-powered plants to generate electricity for their 2-cows-and-a-plough ploughed fields.

Then Greenpeace India sponsored a brazilian (new joke: please ask) ice creams, into which we stuck small flags with the Solar Generation logo on one side, with the other side saying ,” Don’t melt our future, stop coal now!" At first, the media people and the delegates seemed more interested in the ice cream than in our message, but when pressured into accepting a Greenpeace document on the shortfalls of the ADB along with vanilla, chocolate or butterscotch, they were more than happy to promise us a quick readthrough. We even managed to serve Mr. Ahluwalia and Mr. Chidambaram ice cream, and though Mr. Ahluwalia said that it would be impossible to totally quit coal, he did promise us that he 'would look into the matter,' a promise we hope to hold him to.

Mission successful, we ate all the remaining ice cream, and then left the venue, content in our new found repleteness. Ice cream truly can save the world.

The ADB Adventure

Today, I had the full Hyderabad experience. Most of the day I spent alone, in an underground printing place where they've printed out gigantic A1-size posters that we'll paste to our bodies for tomorrow's action (hopefully at the candlelight vigil at the Gandhi statue, if Ananda can make sure we won't be 'inappropriate' for the occassion). The International Youth Renewable Energy Declaration (i.e. Y-RED, codenamed the 'Red Paper') is finally ready and blown up, ready to be unveiled grandly to the media. The discussions with SG-Int'l were full of exciting ideas and intelligent debate about phrasing. Then we ran it by the GP guys, who suggested we hone our 'messaging' (which is a word we're hearing often -- very MBA, they can be sometimes). Tomorrow, the guys from Bangalore arrive. We spend the morning doing the following:
1. Briefing SG-Bang on the events of the last dramatic three days and alloting (no time to negotiate in any civil way...) duties: media team, action team, inside-centre team.
2. Trying to get everyone accredited to enter the convention centre (?)
3. Making windmills, flags, etc. for the action inside the convention centre.
4. Making placards, graffiti for the NVDA at the candlelit vigil (?)
5. Making the invitation for the media for our 5th ceremony
6. Drafting the press release for Y-RED
7. Making a press kit (Nayana was there to give out sage advice on the most effective forms of media manipulation and other dire duties.)

Going by past experience, we will do a set of things mutually exclusive from the above. Good night!