Development is back in focus after the endless noise about cow protection, nationalism, Hindu-Muslim, janeus, Shiv Bhakti, Gorakhpur governance, casteism, love jihad, enemy nation and the rest. Why this talk about development now? Perhaps the dissent and protests on the ground by various sections in Gujarat in the last few years have compelled even the diehards to acknowledge (Mr. Amit Shah recently said ‘It is not my point that the issues raised in those agitations are not an issue’), that something is deeply problematic about the “Gujarat Model of Development”. The ASHA workers have taken to the streets demanding a living wage, regularized working hours and social security; dalits are no longer silent about the violence, indignity and intimidation heaped upon them; displaced families from Sardar Sarovar Dams have occupied streets seeking rehabilitation; farmers are demanding reprieve from a crisis to which they have had no hand in creating; tribals and evicted farmers are protesting against showpiece infrastructure projects which have meant their displacement and destruction of human habitations; and the youth from cultivating castes are seeking guarantee for jobs. The list is continuing.
(T)he economic dialectic is never active in the pure state; in History, these instances, the superstructures etc – are never seen to step respectfully aside when their work is done or, when the Time comes, as his pure phenomena, to scatter before His Majesty the Economy as he strides along the royal road of the Dialectic. From the first moment to the last, the lonely hour of the ‘last instance’ never comes. – Louis Althusser, For Marx, London: Verso 1979, p. 113
The event known to the world as the ‘October’ revolution in Russia – or simply as the ‘Russian revolution’ – took place on 7-8 November, a hundred years ago. But then why call it the October revolution? Thereby hangs a tale – the tale of modernity, myth-making and of a new imagination of Time.
As a matter of fact, the Revolution occurred on 25-26 October, according to the Julian calendar (so called because it had been promulgated by Julius Caesar), which Russia, along with a large part of the Western world, followed at that time. It was only in January 1918 that the Soviet government decreed the shift to the Gregorian calendar. The reason was that Russia should join ‘all cultured nations in counting time’, as a decree cited by historian Mark Steinberg put it. Accordingly, the first anniversary of the revolution was celebrated on 7 November 1918 throughout the Soviet Union.
What is interesting here is not so much the shift but the reason assigned for it – joining other ‘cultured nations’ of the world, which in the language of the early twentieth century meant only one thing – the modern West, which had long been setting the norm for everything desirable. Ways of ‘counting time’ too had to be aligned with Europe, lest one be considered insufficiently modern. Spatially, the Czarist Russian empire straddled both Europe and Asia, which had already, in the new reckoning of Time, been cast as ‘advanced’ and ‘backward’ respectively. The desire to become modern and join the ‘cultured nations’ was to run through the history of the revolution and its consolidation into the new Stalinist state. This desire was to be manifested in its deep distrust of the peasantry and rural life on the one hand, and in the frenetic drive to ‘catch up’ with Western Europe. As Stalin would say, he wanted to accomplish in a couple of decades what Europe had in a few centuries, compressing time, as it were, into one dizzying experience for entire society. The continuing ‘past’ had to be annihilated.
We the undersigned wish to place on record our opposition to the Aadhaar scheme which is being aggressively pushed by the government in complete violation of norms, procedures and Supreme Court orders.
Many of us have resisted enrolment. Many of us are already enrolled. But today, we stand together to say NO To Aadhaar.
We oppose Aadhaar because it violates our Constitutional rights and freedoms as citizens.
We oppose Aadhaar because it undermines the foundations of our democracy, disempowering us as citizens while giving government the means to control every aspect of our lives.
The mess created by Aadhaar is not a matter of poor implementation or “teething troubles” as claimed by the government. Aadhaar cannot be fixed with some tweaking and tinkering. It is fundamentally flawed and must be scrapped.
Last week, Prime Minister Modi gave an hour long speech denouncing ‘pessimists’ who refused to see the bright side of demonetisation and other transformations that his government’s able management had visited upon the economy.
Now, a set of surveys by the Reserve Bank of India have concluded that 65% of the 5100 metropolitan households polled feel the economic situation has either worsened or stayed the same. It’s a small sample, but the results are revealing. To quote :
Households’ current perceptions on the general economic situation remained in the pessimistic zone for four successive quarters, with the outlook worsening — RBI
For those you wondering – “four successive quarters” is a full year.
I would urge most readers to read the report in full, but here are some key takeaways:
“Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt”
–Dalit Scholar Rohith Vemula, who was institutionally murdered.
Often academic interests die a quiet death due to crassly political reasons but they die yet again, due to non-recognition and to their relentless reduction to the apolitical. Much as there must be emphasis on seeking solutions to the troubles that humanity is facing, it cannot be ignored that reducing the ‘root’ cause of everything to the realm of ‘apolitical’ can be academically simplistic and politically dangerous. And why must there be an obsession with relegating everything to the ‘apolitical’ domain? Why do journalists who continually work within political systems still consider depression to be something external to the sphere of politics? Why must there be academicians who discount historicity and complexity by equating violence with counter violence? And why, similarly, must there be politicians who condemn violence on ‘both sides’? Because, even a simple reading of the political should reveal its association with power, challenge its centralization, and more importantly the show up the invisibilization that generates hegemony.
What can one expect when one is faced with a blog by “India’s leading economic journalist” which is titled “Most of the ousted tribals are flourishing and loving it”? That there will be a large helping of fries on the side? That it will taste great but is really junk? In all of these expectations, one is not disappointed.
First, a little background. The leading economic journalist is Swaminathan Iyer, who along with a colleague carried out a survey of some tribals ousted by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam, comparing their situation with those left behind in the hilly areas near the river, and others in the hilly areas but near a mining project. On 10th Sept 2017, Iyer wrote a blog titled “Why many tribals don’t mind being ousted” based on his study. In a matter of just two days, Iyer has come out with a second blog based on the same study on the same topic. One wonders why. But then, again, one may not wonder, for the Sardar Sarovar has become an important topic with the Prime Minister scheduled to dedicate to the nation the dam on 17th Sept 2017.
The first blog was a classic case of misinterpretation of data, hiding the more important issues, and conclusions not supported by research findings, as we showed in our response. We showed that the tribals do mind being ousted. Now Iyer has written another blog on the matter, which skirts the issues we had raised in our response and omits some crucial survey findings given in the earlier blog, but still tries to show the Sardar Sarovar rehabilitation program as being successful.
SHRIPAD DHARMADHIKARY and NANDINI OZA write a stinging response to Swaminathan Anklesaria Iyer’s unsupported claims in Times of India about how much tribals love being ousted for big dams. The newspaper did not care to publish this rebuttal so the authors posted this on Dharmadhikary’s blog and also in the comments section to Iyer’s article.
We reproduce Dharmadhikary and Oza’s original response in full below from Manthan.
However, here is an update from Shripad:
I put my comment in brief, within the allowed 3000 characters, yesterday in the Comments section. Today, it’s gone.
Have yet to read the new version of his bog properly (am out since early morning), but it appears that he has rewritten it in a way that tries to skirt the response we had given. Now I am planning to write another response to the new blog….but can only do it tomorrow as busy with meetings today.
And now, Dharmadhikary and Oza’s original response in Manthan:
SA Iyers’s piece in Times of India dated 10 Sept 2017, “Why many tribals don’t mind being ousted by dams”, examining the condition of some of the oustees of Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam is a classic case of misinterpretation of data, hiding the more important issues, and conclusions not supported by research findings. Indeed, a proper reading of the article itself shows that unlike Iyer’s assertion, his own figures show that tribals do mind being ousted. Some important points are given below.
Iyer claims that their “surveys showed, unambiguously, the resettled villagers were better off than their former neighbours in semi-evacuated villages.” In support, among the figures given from their survey, they point out that comparing the resettled with their former neighbours who remain in the original areas, the access to drinking water was 45% against 33%, to PHCs was 37% versus 12% and to hospitals 14% versus 3%. Given that the oustees were resettled between 25-30 years ago, and that the Sardar Sardar project has poured in hundreds of crores of rupees for resettlement, these figures don’t speak of oustees being better off, but indeed, point to the pathetic case of the oustees.