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CIC Vancouver: Gathering in the Shadows of a Nuclear Winter Conference

September 9, 2017 @ 9:30 am - 5:00 pm PDT

Organized by South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), with generous nancial Support from Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation and Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University. Co-sponsored by Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC) and School for International Studies, SFU

Admission is free but registration required. RSVP to Chin Banerjee cbanerjee@telus.net.

Lunch will be provided for presenter and organizers. Others who wish to share catered lunch should send a cheque for $10.00 to SANSAD at 906-608 Belmont Street, New Westminster, BC V3M 0G8. 

There is an urgent need to attend to the crisis of the nuclear threat in the world today. 2017 began with the Doomsday Clock being set forward by 30 seconds to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. Currently both the US and Russia are expanding their arsenals and new players are entering the field. Donald Trump’s statements have increased the threat of nuclear proliferation. One hundred and twenty countries met at the UN on March 27 to push for a ban on nuclear weapons, though the nuclear-armed nations led by the US refused to participate.

The principle of “Mutually Assured Destruction,” with the apt acronym of MAD, which has been the basis of human security since the Soviet Union challenged the US monopoly of terror in 1948, has been destabilized by the current US superiority in first strike capability. The answering Russian progress in the development of hypersonic missiles only accelerates the race toward destruction. Within this global situation, the escalating militarism of nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, locked in hostility since birth in 1947 and engaged in daily border skirmishes, poses an imminent danger. Apart from the increasingly shrill rhetoric of nationalism in both countries, there is evidence that India is reconsidering its policy of No First Strike, about which Pakistan has always been deeply skeptical in any case.

There is also the growing concern that the logic of development and the demands of climate change will lead to greater dependence on nuclear power plants, whose benign promise is belied by the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. India is moving rapidly in this direction despite protests from environmentalists and people living in the coastal areas.

The goal of the conference is to focus on the existential threat facing us by bringing together in conversation nuclear scientists, scholars, writers, and anti-nuclear and peace activists from India, Pakistan, Canada, and the US. The purpose of the conference is to situate the extremely dangerous nuclear stand-off and hostility between India and Pakistan within the global concern with militarism and the nuclear threat, to address the dubious value of nuclear power as an answer to climate change, and to contribute to developing people’s initiative for peace and sustainable development.


9:30AM: Welcome

9:45AM: Rap music by Jovian Radheshwar

10:00AM–1:00PM: Session 1: Moderator: John Hariss. Presenters: Admiral Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas: “The UN Treaty: Nuclear Haves and Have-nots … What Next?”; M. V. Ramana, “Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Disarmament: Can the two co-exist?”; Sirish Rao: “Arte Nucleare: The Mushroom Cloud and Art “; Wanpovi Kathy Sanchez,”What we do to mother earth we add to our soul wounding.”

1:00PM–2:00PM: Lunch

2:00PM: Music by Sejal Lal

2.:15–5:00 PM: Session 2: Moderator: Sid Shniad. Presenters: Pervez Hoodbhoy: “Nuclear Instability in South Asia”; Robert Anderson: “Two Faces of South Asia: what is left of the inspirational basis for South Asia’s 1970’s pursuit of nuclear power and weapons?”; Annie Ross: “They have taken our Land and used it to destroy the rest of the World”; Paul Meyer: “The Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty and the pursuit of Nuclear Disarmament”; Derrick O’Keefe: “Vancouver as a nuclear-free city of peace: Reviving a history of resistance.”


Bob Anderson is professor of communication at SFU, and author of Nucleus and Nation: scientists, international networks, and power in India (University of Chicago Press, 2010). He went first to study in India in 1961 at age eighteen, and has an intriguing although discontinuous relationship with South Asia since that time. He is working (rather slowly) on a project called Negotiating Nuclear Power.

John Harriss is Professor of International Studies at Simon Fraser University. He was Director of the School for International Studies from 2006 until 2013, and again in 2016.

Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy is currently Zohra and Z.Z.Ahmad Distinguished Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Forman Christian College, Lahore, having taught for 44 years at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. He graduated from MIT with a Ph.D in nuclear physics. In 1968, he won the Baker Award for Electronics, and in 1984, the Abdus Salam Prize for Mathematics. In 2003 he was awarded UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for the popularization of science. In 2010 he received the Joseph A. Burton Award from the American Physical Society and the Jean Meyer Award from Tufts University. In 2011, he was included in the list of 100 most influential global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. In 2013, he was made a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Affairs, a position he currently holds.

Paul Meyer is Adjunct Professor of International Studies, Fellow in International Security at Simon Fraser University, and a Senior Fellow with The Simons Foundation Vancouver. Prior to assuming his current appointments in 2011, Paul had a 35-year diplomatic career with Canada’s Foreign Service, including serving as Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva (2003-2007). He teaches diplomacy at SFU’s School for International Studies, and his research interests include nuclear arms control and disarmament, outer space security, and international cyber security.

Derrick O’Keefe is a writer and political organizer, and the former co-chair of StopWar.ca and the Canadian Peace Alliance. Derrick is a founding editor of Ricochet.Media, a bilingual digital magazine focusing on politics and culture in Canada and Quebec. His writing on Canadian foreign policy has been published widely, and he is the co-author of Malalai Joya’s book, “A Woman Among Warlords.”

Jovian Radheshwar is a rap artist, poet, and recording artist. Born in Bombay and raised in New York, Jovian taught Black Studies and Political Science in Santa Barbara, California. His musical inspirations include Outkast, Nas, and Pink Floyd. He currently lives in Vancouver where he teaches Political Science at Douglas College. Jovian finds in rap a powerful medium for making a statement both personally and politically. As MC Bitter Buffalo on the album “No Hooks” (2012), Jovian collaborated with Bobby Musgrave (Pensive Blue Polar Bear) and Ed Keenan (DJ California Condor) in exploring the endangered nature of existence in a technologized modern world. As part of the Endangered Species collective, he performed shows in Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, Goleta, and Los Angeles, California.

M. V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia and the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin Books, 2012) and co-editor of Prisoners of the Nuclear Dream (Orient Longman, 2003). He is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials and the Global Council of Abolition 2000. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Leo Szilard Award from the American Physical Society.

Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas was born in a poor family in Bombay, commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1953, trained as a Communication Specialist at the Royal Naval Staff College, UK, and headed the naval academy at Kochi. He was prominently engaged in the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and has received Vir Chakra, Param Vishist Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, and Vishisht Seva Medal. He was the Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy from 1990 until his retirement in 1993. Since retirement, he has been deeply engaged in anti-nuclear, peace, social justice, and democratic rights issues. He was Chairperson of the Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy from 1996–2003. He is a Founding Member of Asia Peace Alliance, and a Member and Patron of India-Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace. He received the Father Graham Staines Award for International Peace and Harmony in 2003 and Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 2004.  He was the Internal Lokpal for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for almost three years and is a member of the Citzens Whistleblowers Forum (CWF), which was formed in February 2017 to track corruption in government.

Lalita Ramdas is an activist in women’s rights, particularly women’s education, environmental issues, peace, Indo-Pak friendship, and denuclearization. She is one of the founding members of Greenpeace India and has served as Chairperson of Greenpeace International from 2007–2010. She launched the Rainbow Warrior II in 2011. She has worked as an informal educator in the slums of Delhi and founded “Ankur,” a society for alternative education. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as one of “1000 Peace Women” in 2005.

Sirish Rao is a writer, festival producer, and cultural curator with deep connections to the international cultural world. He spent a decade as Director of one of India’s most respected publishing houses. Sirish has authored twenty books, from commentaries on street art to children’s books, to retellings of Greek plays. Since co-founding Vancouver’s annual Indian Summer Festival seven years ago, Sirish has been responsible for introducing some of the world’s most noted thinkers and artists to Vancouver, in a roster that features Nobel, Booker, Grammy, and Oscar winning artists alongside emerging talent. Sirish is deeply committed to playing his part in ensuring that Vancouver is engaged in relevant and just global conversations.

Annie Ross is an Indigenous (Maya) teacher and artist working along and with community in Canada. She teaches Environmental Ethics in First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University.

Elder Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez,  MA, is an activist/organizer who believes in beloved communities in the transformative culture of peace. Her activism on nuclear non-proliferation, human rights, and the rights of our Mother Earth, brings spirit-rooted awareness into environmental justice advocacy and policy changes to end violence against women, girls, and Mother Earth. She is currently the Environmental Health and Justice program manager for Tewa Women United, NM USA.

Sid Shniad is a lifelong social justice activist who spent most of his working life as a trade union researcher at the Telecommunications Workers Union. He has been active in the anti-war movement and is a founding member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, an organization dedicated to justice for Palestine, where he is currently a member of the national steering committee.


September 9, 2017
9:30 am - 5:00 pm PDT
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