Tag Archives: Development

Killings in Kaziranga, Dantewada Hazaribagh – ‘National Interest’, ‘Internal Security’ and ‘Development’: Kamal Nayan Choubey

Guest post by KAMAL NAYAN CHOUBEY

In the last few weeks there were at least three gruesome incidents of killing of tribals or forest dwelling persons in different parts of the country. In the first incident two persons from Muslim community were killed in police firing near Kaziranga National Park (KNP) of Assam on 19 September 2016. These people were peacefully protesting against their eviction drive carried out by local administration, which was implementing the judgment of Gauhati High Court related to evictions. In the second incident two young boys were killed by police in the Bastar area of the Chhattisgarh, and following the long tradition of all such killings, the police claimed that they were Maoists. The third incident occurred on the 1st October in the Hazaribagh, Jharkhand where the police used its brutal power and killed four persons in an open firing. These people were peacefully protesting against land acquisition for a Thermal Power Plant, which would cause their displacement. It is should be asked that why the State used its brutal power against one of the most marginalized sections of the society? Was firing on these unarmed and, at least in two cases, peacefully protesting tribal and forest dwelling people necessary? Could it be claimed by the State authorities that they fulfilled all constitutional obligations in the context of the demands of these people, in other words, could it be claimed by authorities that their demands were absurd and unconstitutional? Or would it be more correct to underline that tribals represent the marginal voices of the Indian nation-state, and mainstream notions of ‘national interest’, ‘internal security’ and ‘development’ have meager or no space for their claims or rights?

Continue reading Killings in Kaziranga, Dantewada Hazaribagh – ‘National Interest’, ‘Internal Security’ and ‘Development’: Kamal Nayan Choubey

Open Letter to Odisha CM Re False Charges Against GASS Activist Debaranjan

 WITHDRAW FALSE CHARGES AGAINST DEBARANJAN OF GASS, ODISHA

To:

Mr Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister,
Government of Odisha

22 August 2015

 We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the foisting of a false case on Debaranjan, member of the Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangathan (GASS) in Odisha.

Debaranjan has for several years now been deeply involved with people’s struggles in Odisha, first as a full-time activist in Kashipur, Rayagada district, then as film-maker, and most recently also as a member of the democratic rights group GASS. His has been among the consistent voices in Odisha for over twenty years against state repression on people’s struggles, atrocities faced by adivasis, dalits and other underprivileged communities, and against communalization of the polity and in society. This is the political context in which he is being targeted.

Last week, Debaranjan was sought to be interrogated by the Special Branch of the Intelligence Department while he was engaged in work on a documentary film in Malkangari district. Subsequently, a number of false charges were filed against him by the Malkangiri Police, including charges pertaining to molestation under Section 354 (b) of the IPC, and under sections 354 and 323. We believe these charges to be patently false and absurd, and constitute nothing other than harassment and part of the continued persecution of democratic voices in this country. Continue reading Open Letter to Odisha CM Re False Charges Against GASS Activist Debaranjan

Whose Ambivalence – Modi’s or Varshney’s? Jyoti Punwani

Guest post by JYOTI PUNWANI

What is it about Narendra Modi that makes people suspend disbelief? Ashutosh Varshney in his Modi’s Ambivalence, Indian Express, June 28, actually considers it possible that the new Prime Minister has a chance of going  down as “one of the greatest leaders of independent India”.  Surely anyone qualifying for such a status must be acceptable to the majority of Indians? Last we heard, the magic of Modi had left almost two-thirds of the electorate untouched, not to forget the fact that he doesn’t exactly inspire respect among our largest minority.

Varshney makes some bewildering assertions in his evaluation of Modi’s first month as PM. From a “novel policy language for poverty alleviation”  to a new acceptance of Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation,  to his RSS-defying portfolio distribution,  Varshney sees signs of a new Modi, quite different from the man cursed forever with the burden of Gujarat 2002.

Continue reading Whose Ambivalence – Modi’s or Varshney’s? Jyoti Punwani

Capital, Growth and Molecular Socialism

A slightly modified version of a talk delivered at the Conference on ‘Democracy, Socialism and Visions for the 21st Century’, 7-10 March, at Hyderabad 

Today we stand at a moment of history that is very different from the conjuncture at the turn of the 1980s and onset of the 1990s, which marked the collapse of actually existing socialism and the eventual victory of neo-liberalism. ‘Capital’ looked victorious and invincible and everything that was associated with socialism stood discredited. This is no longer the case today. The struggle for a new kind of left imagination, for a re-signification of the idea of socialism, is now evident in large parts of the world. The neo-liberal emperor has been revealed to have no clothes. Many neoliberals, incidentally, still live in the 1990s, sincere in their belief that History had come to an end at that moment. Simply because twentieth century socialism stood discredited, it was assumed that that meant the end of popular struggles and challenges to capital’s domination over the world. Today, two and a half decades after the collapse of socialism and the victory of neoliberalism, the latter stands challenged as perhaps, never before. 

The difficulty however, is that while the spirit of the Left animates struggles and movements, an actual programmatic vision is still not quite in sight.  The weight of dead generations still weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. Revolutionaries have long conceded defeat and accepted that capitalism is the only salvation and that they too must build capitalism wherever they are in power, even if rhetorically, they still hold on to the idea of transcending capitalism. The problem has little to do with the intentions of the revolutionaries; it is fundamentally a matter of a vision that is predicated upon the productivist and ‘progressist’ imagination of the past three centuries or more. In our contemporary everyday language, we could even call it the growth-fetishist vision – a vision that fails to differentiate between cancerous growth of capital on the social body, and the all round improvement in the lives of ordinary people. The fact that twentieth century socialists too remained captive to that vision is perhaps the reason they could not pose any serious challenge to capital.

Productivism and Progress

This productivist imagination was put in place over a few centuries through the conjunction of a range of new bodies of knowledge – moral philosophy, Lockean political theory and political economy – later economics. At one level, the twentieth century socialist imagination too partook of the fundamental assumptions that lay behind this modernist vision and sought to defeat capitalism on its own ground. That was an impossible task. It was impossible for it never radically questioned the fundamentals of the new capitalist creed, namely economics. Economics was and remains a discipline constituted by capital and ‘socialist economics’ is, strictly speaking, an oxymoron. For, apart from the ecological imperative, to which I will turn in a moment, the discipline was fundamentally hostile to all but bourgeois forms of property and production. Continue reading Capital, Growth and Molecular Socialism

Decolonization of the Mind

Our modernity is incomplete, our secularism impure, our democracy immature, our development  arrested and our capitalism retarded: ask anyone trained in the social sciences, economics in particular, about what ails India today and you can be sure of getting one or all of these answers. And you can go on adding to the list of more and more things ‘we’ lack. We did not have ‘history’, we do not have social sciences – and of course, we do not have theory/ philosophy.

Everything, in other words, is about our ‘backwardness’ and our need to catch up with the West. And seen through the lens of social science, most of the world looks like this – living ‘inauthentic’ lives, always ever in the ‘waiting room of history’, to steal historian Dipesh Chakrabarty’s suggestive phrase.

In the world view of our state elites, this is actually a form of what one could call, paraphrasing Sigmund Freud, ‘Capital-Envy’. The ‘realization’ that ‘we do not have it’ can be a source of serious anxieties. That is what lies behind the current frenzied desire to ‘catch up’ with the West. And generations of feminist scholarship has challenged this unquestioned Freudian  assumption that the penis is the norm and not to have it, is Lack. Perhaps women do not want it? Freud never conceived of this as possible. Indeed in today’s world, there are many men who claim that they feel they are women trapped inside male bodies. Generations of scholarship has made us realize that the aura of that grand universal theory actually rested on the fact that it did not just describe the sexes; it produced the sexual norm itself.

The vision that propels our political elites and their parallel numbers who write in the media today, is something like that fantasy of Freud. The anxiety produced by this awareness of the ‘primordial Lack’, is what drives them today towards what has been the most violent phase of development in our entire history. Violent uprooting of populations from their land, often at gunpoint, coupled with the most ruthless plunder of our common resources by unscrupulous corporations – all this and more has been going on with the state elites looking on ‘benignly’. For they seem to know something ordinary mortals do not – that all this is but the necessary price to pay for becoming ‘modern’ like them. Continue reading Decolonization of the Mind

The Monopoly of Knowledge: Rakshita Swamy

This is a Guest Post by RAKSHITA SWAMY

I recently was reading a PhD dissertation that was aiming to deconstruct the movement that eventually led to the passing of India’s historic Right to Information Act. The study involved unpacking recent agendas of good governance and placing the RTI Act in the center of this reform agenda. By attempting to stitch the narrative of the role played by different factors, the convergence of which led to the eventual passing of the Act, the author tried to compare one version of the narrative, with the other, thereby pronouncing a judgment on what actually may be the “truth”. It was while reading this particular piece of scholarly research, funded by one of the leading Universities of the world, that I was struck by the thought of what purpose we imagine academic research in the field of social science to actually serve. Does it serve to throw light on aspects that are not discussed enough? Or is it meant to pose one set of facts versus the other, and facilitate the reader in coming to a conclusion on what actually can be deemed as a fact. Can research emanating within the broad field of poverty alleviation, development and instrumentalities of governance ever seek to really influence policy making, or even public action? This essay makes a fledgling beginning in attempting to answer this question.   Continue reading The Monopoly of Knowledge: Rakshita Swamy

Same Difference? The Politics of Development in Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka and Modi’s Gujarat: Anonymous

This is a  guest post by ANONYMOUS

President Mahinda Rajapakse in Sri Lanka and Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi in India have positioned themselves as champions of development and good governance. Hardly a day passes without a media comment in the two countries on their respective development achievements. By and large, claims and counter-claims regarding development in Gujarat and Sri Lanka have tended to focus on mobilising data and ‘facts’ pertaining to a range of vital indicators—economic growth, levels of foreign investment, per capita income, employment, industrial or agricultural output, housing, rural infrastructure, roads, electrification, social welfare allocations, etc.

While working with development data is useful and necessary, an approach that relies too heavily on them tells us little about why development matters to the two regimes and how and to what ends it is actually deployed and leveraged by them at this point in time—the focus of this commentary. The question is not just what Modi and Rajapakse are doing for development but also what development is doing for them. Notwithstanding the significant differences between Gujarat and Sri Lanka, as argued herein, there are many striking similarities with respect to how and why Modi and Rajapakse are constructing, invoking and championing the cause of development. Continue reading Same Difference? The Politics of Development in Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka and Modi’s Gujarat: Anonymous

What Development Means: Dilip D’Souza

This guest post by DILIP D’SOUZA is an excerpt from his book, The Curious Case of Binayak Sen

On a recent trip to the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, I visited a village called Bamhni. The Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS; People’s Health Collective, a rural hospital) of Ganiyari runs an outreach clinic there. Every Tuesday, one or two JSS doctors and a small team of health workers get into a Mahindra Bolero SUV in Ganiyari and drive an hour-and-a-half to reach Bamhni.

I spent much of the day with an even smaller JSS team that reaches out even beyond this outreach clinic. The area we were in is part of the Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary, which has existed since the mid-70s. As happens with several Indian wildlife reserves, this one has several villages located inside its boundaries. In 2009, Achanakmar was declared part of Project Tiger, the more stringent Indian effort to save that splendid animal. More stringent, that is, in the conditions it spells out for villages in designated sanctuaries. When Achanakmar joined Project Tiger, the residents of Bamhni and several other villages were told they would have to move out of the “core zone” of the sanctuary, so as to leave the tigers an area where they would be undisturbed. Continue reading What Development Means: Dilip D’Souza

On the Violence Unleashed against Protesting Citizens in Koodankulam: Chennai Solidarity Group

A Statement issued by the Chennai Solidarity Group

Background

For more than a year the people of Idinthakarai village, along with fellow citizens from nearby villages have been protesting the setting up of a nuclear power plant at Koodankulam in Southern Tamil Nadu. The protests have been peaceful and have included people from different strata of society. Women have been in the forefront of the struggle, and over the last year even children have learned about the perils of nuclear power plants and the need to look for alternative energy sources.

In spite of this being a peaceful citizens’ protest, the state has chosen to treat it as dangerous – and arrested hundreds of people, intimidated many others and have more than once treated Idinthakarai village and its environs as if it were ‘enemy’ territory. Sedition charges have been slapped against the protesters, along with other criminal charges. The legality of these measures has since been subject to questioning. A high level Public Hearing, presided over by Former Chief Justice A B Shah has in fact called attention to the manner in which the law has been misused in this instance, and in fact abused to harass and prevent ordinary citizens from exercising their right to protest, and defend their constitutionally guaranteed right to life and livelihood. Continue reading On the Violence Unleashed against Protesting Citizens in Koodankulam: Chennai Solidarity Group

When Media is Nuked!: PK Sundaram

Guest post by PK SUNDARAM

After armed forces, nuclear establishment is another holy cow in the post-independence India. Our media does not only outsources all final judgements on nuclear issues to the nucleocrats, but has also happily joined them in slanders against the grassroots anti-nuclear movements.

We have seen the media discourse on nuclear weapons being shadowed almost entirely by national security and nuclear deterrence arguments. On the recent upsurge of mass protests against nuclear energy projects across the country, media is playing the official tune where people challenging these projects are reduced to illiterate crowd, foreign-funded groups, religious identities and even anti-nationals. On 24th this month, the Tamil newspaper Dinamalar published a story titled Truth and hype behind the Koodankulam row. This report is nothing but an utterly malicious piece of journalistic writing with ugly slanders against the leading activists of the ongoing anti-nuclear movement in Koodankulam – S P Udayakumar, M Pushparayan and M P Jesuraj.

Continue reading When Media is Nuked!: PK Sundaram

Development in the ICU: Swagato Sarkar

Guest post by SWAGATO SARKAR

Montek Singh Ahluwalia (MSA) has taken over the English news channels [okay, perhaps not all, but two “exclusive” interviews to Headlines Today and CNN-IBN’s FTN (F stands for ‘Face’, btw)] tonight to shoot back at his opponents and detractors, the likes of Roys, Drezes, Aiyars. The discourse had three parts: the sermon, gloss and proto-penance, and the affirmation of the revealed Truth.

The Planning of Commission of the sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic of India is not a Stalinist Planning Commission. It has the solemn duty of finding India’s rightful place in the world at the average rate of 8% per year. But India is a poor country [exclusive news which cannot be shared at Davos]. The GDP has to enlarge. Market is what will make it happen. But market has limits. Hence, welfare. But MSA is not happy that the Growth-Decline story did not work out as he would have wished. But that is no reason to be anti-Growth [now go to the first line of the para and read it all over again.]

Continue reading Development in the ICU: Swagato Sarkar

A “Green Signal” for The Rape of Justice and the People: POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

The following is the statement issued by the POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI on the latest decision of the Environment Ministry on POSCO. The image below from an earlier round of land acquisition attempt is a telling illustration of how the ‘free market’ functions. Received via Shankar Gopalakrishnan.

Courtesy The Hindu
Land being acquired for POSCO. Image courtesy The Hindu

Jairam Ramesh and the UPA government have shown their true colours with their decision today on the POSCO project. Ignoring the reports of its own advisory bodies and enquiry committees, violating its own orders and the laws of the land, this Ministry has shown that the naked face of corporate greed – it is not the “rule of law”, the “aam aadmi”, “inclusive growth” or any of these other lies – that rules this country. The decision today can be summarised in one sentence:”Repeat your lies, give us promises that we all know are false, and then loot at will.”

We repeat: we will not give up our lands, our forests and our homes to this company. It is not the meaningless orders of a mercenary government that will decide this project’s fate, but the tears and blood of our people. Through the road of peaceful demonstrations and people’s resistance we have fought this project, in the face of torture, jail, firings and killings. If this project comes it will come over our dead bodies.
Continue reading A “Green Signal” for The Rape of Justice and the People: POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

Right to the City? Rethinking Urbanization, Urban Restructuring, Change and How the City is Accessed Physically and Symbolically …

David Harvey published his piece Right to the City in the New Left Review Issue of September-October 2008. Briefly, he describes the capitalist process and how the city has been the space for investing surplus capital. Specifically, this is done through the constant construction boom, be it housing or infrastructure creation. Harvey is suggesting that the global crises which has affected cities across the world (also because these cities were deeply implicated in the conditions that produced the crisis) is now offering an opportunity for the marginalized “classes” of the world to come together and take control of the “surpluses” which are generated at the expense of the cities. He proposes that if the marginalized people across the world were to unite, they could probably demand a human right to the city which goes beyond merely accessing individual urban resources. The right to the city involves re-creating ourselves in the process of re-creating our cities, in consonance with the higher values of equality and social justice. Continue reading Right to the City? Rethinking Urbanization, Urban Restructuring, Change and How the City is Accessed Physically and Symbolically …

Quepem by the kilo: Hartman de Souza on Mining in Goa

I am posting below a requiem to Quepem by my old friend Hartman. It reads eerily like a companion piece to the curatorial essay to Manifesta 7 by Raqs, posted earlier on Kafila. Raqs wrote:

Mountains are flattened to mine bauxite, the main aluminium ore. Mountains of aluminium waste may eventually take their place…The “rest of now” is the residue that lies at the heart of contemporaneity. It is what persists from moments of transformation, and what falls through the cracks of time. It is history’s obstinate remainder, haunting each addition and subtraction with arithmetic persistence, endlessly carrying over what cannot be accounted for. The rest of now is the excess, which pushes us towards respite, memory and slowing things down.

And here’s Hartman:

As you read this, mourn the brutal rape and murder of half a dozen steep, thickly forested hills barely 12 kilometres from Quepem town in south Goa. These form an integral link of the magnificent Western Ghats that surround Goa, and as any schoolchild studying the environment will tell you, they play a crucial role in providing Goa its ecological wellbeing.

And yet, in blatant contravention of wisdom we purport to impart to children, hundreds of forests are being cut down around Quepem even as I write this. The denuded land turned inside out so fast, a hill can disappear in three months, leaving behind suppurating wounds that go down so deep the giant tipper trucks at the bottom look like the harmless toys little boys plays with.

Continue reading Quepem by the kilo: Hartman de Souza on Mining in Goa

Under Development: Singur

If you are in Kolkata between 27 June and 2 July, you may do well to visit the Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre, Kolkata, for an exhibition of photographs of Singur. There will also be a panel discussion and a film festival. Continue reading Under Development: Singur

The Shotgun and the Sniper

“The time for silver bullets has passed,” proclaimed Marc Stewart, “What we need is a Shotgun!” In his bright Bali shirt, Nike sneakers and Investment Banker haircut, Mr Stewart is the firm-handshaking, fist pumping, ever effusive all-American co-founder of Ecosecurities, a firm that specialises in developing and marketing carbon trading projects under the Clean Development Mechanism – CDM – of the Kyoto Protocol. With emission reductions under Kyoto less than a month away, Mr Stewart’s firm is looking to extend its market capitalisation to far beyond its existing 40 million USD. The Ecosecurity model functions in the following way – they find and help develop projects in the developing world that is eligible for credit credits under the CDM, and then sell the credits to firms in EU, and across the world, that are looking to meet their Kyoto targets by offsetting excess emissions against carbon credits. Firms like Ecosecurities pushed the carbon market to 30 billion dollars in 2006; and if Annex 1 agrees to further emission cuts (25-40 per cent below 1992 by 2020) the potential size of the market is open to the most optimistic hyperbole.

The “Shotgun Approach” suggested by Stewart was his response to the fact Continue reading The Shotgun and the Sniper