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
Guest post by KAMAL NAYAN CHOUBEY
On the 6th of May, 2016 the Supreme Court rejected Odisha government’s petition for conducting Gram Sabha meetings for a second time in villages near Niyamgiri hills for the extraction of bauxite. Earlier, in August 2013, following Supreme Court directions, the Dongria Kondh tribals of Niyamgiri clearly decided in 12 Gram Sabha meetings that they would not give any permission for mining in their place of worship. The Odisha government filed an interlocutory application in February 2016 and argued that situation had changed in that area because mining was now proposed to be done by Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) instead of a joint venture project between OMC and Vedanta. The Odisha government filed the petition to help the Anil Agrawal-owned Sterlite (formerly Vedanta Alumina) company, which wants to extract bauxite from Niyamgiri hill in Kalahandi for its Lanjigarh refinery. The Supreme Court, however, rejected the arguments of Odisha government and accepted the validity of August 2013 Gram Sabha meetings. Now, the Odisha government can claim that it wants to ensure the development of all groups of the state and create more alternatives for marginalized groups like Dongria-Kondhs. The question, however, is whether the Odisha government can claim, on moral grounds, that it has not been working as an agent of corporate capital? What can a marginalized group do when it finds that a democratically elected government is relentlessly working against its interest and violating constitutional provisions? Indeed the Niyamgiri experience has raised many questions not just about the violence caused by dominant ‘development’ model against marginalized adivasi groups, but also about the crisis of constitutionalism and the role of democratically elected government in using/misusing state apparatus for the benefit of capitalists.
Continue reading Niyamgiri – An Unending Struggle for Livelihoods and Habitat: Kamal Nayan Choubey
Guest post by KAMAL NAYAN CHOUBEY and NISHANT KUMAR
[This article is a response to the lead news-cum-article written by Sanjay Kumar and Suhas Palshikar and published in The Indian Express as well as Jansatta on 7th October about the pre-poll survey related to the Bihar Legislative Assembly Election. We had sent this article to the The Indian Express, but they could not give any space to our views. – Authors]
Politically, Bihar is one of the most complex states in India. It is often difficult to provide a substantially cogent electoral prediction because of the multivariate factors that impact the political outcome in the state. The other obvious reason is the political maturity of the electorates of Bihar, who decide the fate of the candidates based on several considerations including caste orientation and the candidates’ performance in the past. Still many analysts have tried to provide a picture regarding the possible outcome of electoral fray for the Bihar Assembly Elections based on quantitative surveys. The opinion poll conducted by Lokniti-CSDS and published in The Indian Express and Jansatta, two of India’s most respected newspapers, on 7th October, 2015 was one such attempt. In the last two decades election studies in India has seen a dramatic evolution with poll surveys gaining immense popularity among both analysts as well as electorates. Lokniti-CSDS has been one of the most reliable institutions for such studies because unlike other market oriented institutions it has always focused on serious academic and intellectual understanding of electoral competition. Many reputed academicians have been part of its election studies and its publications have given new dimensions to the study and understandings about the dynamics and churnings of Indian democracy. However, the pressure of media as well as the rush to publish opinion polls seems to have affected the way CSDS-Lokniti is known to release its analysis.
The news-item in the front page of The Indian Express read ‘Advantage BJP as Bihar gets ready’. It was claimed in that news-cum-article that BJP led NDA had an advantageous edge in the forthcoming Bihar Assembly Elections over Nitish Kumar’s Grand Alliance. We are not sure whether it was the editors who chose the headline to attract attention of its readers or it was consciously decided by the poll conductors based on their analysis. Whatever the case may be, the projection of ‘Advantage BJP’ exposes fissures at several levels, most of which are evident from the data itself. The publication also forces us to pose significant questions about the way in which such opinion polls are conducted both in terms of methodology as well as the analytical categories used to understand electoral politics in a complex society as in the case of Bihar. It further creates doubts about the aim of such published opinion polls. Continue reading The Curious Case of a Study on Bihar Elections: Kamal Nayan Choubey and Nishant Kumar