What transcended at Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth in Rahuri in October of 2014 was a step closer towards achieving the dream of an organic India, an India rediscovering its deep-rooted agricultural history.

A Monsanto sponsored open-field trial of genetically modified corn was seen to have not only breached its contamination area, but even had found its way into the local seed market , with the trials and research yet to be concluded. A subject of serious concern taking into consideration the grave consequences of environmental contamination, G.M. Free India Coalition stepped up its ante to bring attention towards this gross mismanagement on behalf of the university and officials.  Although my contribution in the organization of this event was hardly noteworthy, it proved to be a great learning experience. Being surrounded by 200 odd activists, scientists and farmers from all over India, although an intimidating environment, was nonetheless grossly engaging and enriching one.

Having reached Rahuri the night before the event, I was put in charge of looking after the out-station activists who were to start pouring in on the day of the event. While we were being  greeted by local farmers and activists, we were in for a surprise when a bus-full of energetic activists who had travelled all the way from Tamil Nadu to rural Maharashtra came to show their support.

With a peaceful march to meet the Chancellor of the university was on its way, we were greeted by a band of protesting farmers who were protesting against our protest! That surely was a first! A meeting that was planned to be held in Aurangabad was rescheduled to coincide with our peaceful march. Although exercising their freedom of expression guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, their hostile behaviour was detrimental towards having any healthy debate, thus depriving us of an opportunity to convince them of the ulterior motives that Monsanto so often has disguised under the garb of scientific improvement and the ills of modern farming.

We were conveniently denied permission to meet the university officials but that did not deter us from taking up the issue with the district commissioner. While one team of activists was having talks with the government, the other team maintained pressure on the college authorities to take strict action against those engaged in this environmental fiasco. Finally being assured by the college authorities of strictly following the protocol of field-trial, we considered it a battle won waged in a just war against corporate greed and domination of Indian agricultural sector.

Before disbursing, we met once more, each organization represented by a delegate present there, to decide the future of this movement and the steps to be taken. Keeping that in mind, we parted our ways, strongly resolved to carry forward this movement

Hard-working scientists, selfless activists and dedicated farmers toil tirelessly to renounce the farming conditions present today and go back to sustainable farming.  The least we could do is take cognizance of their efforts and encourage them to pursue it further. The road ahead is turbulent. Going against influential multi-national company was never expected to be a cakewalk. Yet we remain determined to carry forward this march, this March Towards Progress.

Paritosh Mulay is a Volunteer Leader From Aurangabad with Greenpeace India.