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