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May 25, 1998


SJM urges trade restrictions to counter sanctions

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The Swadeshi Jagram Manch today urged the government to announce trade restrictions to counter the sanctions imposed the United States and some other industrialised countries following nuclear tests by India.

It said the United States needs India and its market even more than India needs US aid.

The SJM urged the people to boycott American products in protest against the "unethical sanctions." A country which has 67,000 nuclear missiles and has conducted 1,030 tests, has no right to tell other countries not to rise in self defence," the SJM said.

Delhi state SJM co-convener Ashwini Mahajan said anti-dumping laws should be strengthened to make them effective to "save" the Indian economy from "disaster."

The SJM is an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, like the Bharatiya Janata Party, and is a pressure group against the presence of multinationals and foreign investment.

In recent days, SJM activists in different parts of the country have held protests against American companies, especially Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

Mahajan insisted economic growth will not be adversely affected by the sanctions but it would give the country an opportunity to boost economic development based on self-reliance and enterprise.

Indian industries will do better provided foreign products were not allowed to enter Indian markets, he added.

The SJM announced that regular demonstrations would be held outside the United States embassy if Washington did not refrain from imposing sanctions.

Mahajan congratulated the scientific community for the successful nuclear test explosions and said the political leadership of the country also deserves appreciation for their courageous decision to conduct the tests. The five nuclear explosions at Pokhran have placed India in a position where it can conduct itself with self-respect, dignity, and as an equal player in moulding the world's strategic affairs, he added.

He said the past eight years of blind globalisation in the guise of liberalisation and new economic policy have been the black period of Indian economy. People were forced to believe that only foreign aid, capital and technology could save the country and anything that was foreign was being welcomed, he said, adding that this had shaken the self-confidence and self-respect of the nation.

The country's technological excellence was the result of hard work and the brainpower of scientists. From supercomputers to nuclear technology, Indian scientists have established their supremacy before the world, he said.

Mahajan said the SJM firmly believes that the nation has to depend on its own resources and technology for development. Nations that have depended excessively on foreign resources and technology have failed miserably, he said, and their economies and social structure have been badly damaged. Sanctions imposed by the US and other countries will save the country from excessive dependence on external resources, he claimed.

He declared that the nuclear blasts will give a boost to indigenous initiative and enterprise and the fervour generated by the event, if properly channelled, could be useful in consolidating power in the area of trade, industry, and commerce. He said that foreign resources account for a meagre two per cent of total investment.

Mahajan said the SJM firmly believes that foreign investment should be invited without compromising national interests. A discriminatory treatment against foreign capital will go a long way to scuttle the efforts of those nations who are bent upon suppressing the genuine Indian interests. The same kind of firmness is needed in international fora like the World Trade Organisation.

Posters have been pasted by the SJM all over the country calling for a boycott of American products.


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