Tag Archives: Narmada Bachao Andolan

In Which Swaminathan Iyer McDonaldises the Tribals and Serves Other Junk Food : Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza

Guest Post by SHRIPAD DHARMADHIKARY AND NANDINI OZA

Reposted from Manthan

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.

Continue reading In Which Swaminathan Iyer McDonaldises the Tribals and Serves Other Junk Food : Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza

Why tribals do mind being ousted by dams: Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza

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.

Then, a friend brought to my notice that Swaminathan has written a completely new version of the blog and put it out yesterday. Wonder if he is in the habit of writing different versions of the same blog within a matter of two days! https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Swaminomics/most-of-the-ousted-tribals-are-flourishing-and-loving-it-thank-you-activists/

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.

Continue reading Why tribals do mind being ousted by dams: Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza

The Gaze of the Developmental State and the Narmada Action Plans: Ashwin V.S

Guest Post by ASHWIN V.S

Malud-Jal-satyagrah

Jal Satyagraha in Narmada valley 2013

The years following the Second World War were characterized by a renewed focus on the ‘Modernization’ of nation-states. While the constant feature of the post-war years was the high-stakes rivalry and arms race between the USA and the USSR; both tread a common ground as regards high-modernization and ‘development’. ‘Development’ fuelled growth was considered a panacea to all ills and soon became dominant across the post-colonial world. WW Rostow’s The Stages of Economic Growth was a significant work which argued for five stages of growth in which “traditional societies” could transform themselves into the “age of high mass-consumption”. It was no wonder therefore as to which nation-states were characterized as ‘traditional’ under this rubric and pushed towards ‘development’.

A standard feature of ‘development’ in India has been the showcasing of large scale industrial and apparently ‘public purpose’ projects; an instance of this is seen in the construction of large dams. As much as ‘modernization’ or ‘development’ can be witnessed through the industrial or ‘public’ projects themselves; the ambition of the ‘developmental state’ and its vision can certainly be understood through the one-constant feature of the bureaucratic machinery – paperwork.

Therefore, for the purposes of this essay, I attempt to evaluate the ambition of the post-colonial ‘developmental state’ in India by analyzing the language of a few planning documents. In this case, I consider the Narmada Valley Development Authority’s (NVDAs) Action Plans prepared in the years 1991, 1993, 1995 and 2000 for the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) of Sardar Sarovar Project ‘oustees’ in Madhya Pradesh. These Documents are revealing in aspects of the modern state’s enterprise and it’s most significant undertaking, planning.

The State’s gaze and legibility:

James Scott’s magnificent work Seeing Like a State characterizes a crucial difference between the pre-modern state and the modern state: while the former “was in many crucial respects, partially blind” and “knew precious little about its subjects”, the modern state is consumed by a desire to know. Armed with statistics and other tools of ‘accuracy’, the modern state stakes its claim to the accurate depiction of the social world, which it then tries to alter in accordance to its designs of ‘development’. Continue reading The Gaze of the Developmental State and the Narmada Action Plans: Ashwin V.S

Long Years Ago We Made a Tryst, with…Mathematics

I thought it wasn’t that complicated. When you make a new nation, make sure everybody gets a place. A roughly equal place. When you undertake any development in that new nation, make sure the benefits equal the costs. These are easy equations, easy maths. Maa-tha-maa-tics, my school maths teacher would say portentously, full of meaning and threatening.

This summer, quietly, safe from the media’s attention, 17 more metres were added to the biggest dam of the Sardar Sarovar Project, a dam that was already 400-plus metres high. Being ‘weak at maths’, I hesitate to calculate the catchment area of this big big dam, only one of many big dams in the web of waterworks created by the Sardar Sarovar project. I am getting goosebumps writing these words – the Sardar Sarovar project. As I did way back in school, as a fifteen-year old with a mind like an occupation zone for textbooks. Nehru’s photo radiates in waves out from that mind, that iconic Bhakra Nangal photo with him pointing to something in the far distance. The blazing sun, the deep shadows, the monumental respectability of it all…now the photo is fused with a different, equally iconic image – that of Sunil Dutt’s youthful strides across a dam site in Hum Hindustani. Continue reading Long Years Ago We Made a Tryst, with…Mathematics

Narmada waters for Coca Cola – really, how much more development can we take?

cokeindiaFarmers who have for three decades non-violently protested the brutal ousting from their lands for the dam project on the Narmada river have been castigated for being anti-development. The dam would bring water to the thirsty, to the parched agricultural lands around it, we were told. Continue reading Narmada waters for Coca Cola – really, how much more development can we take?

When Are Foreign Funds Okay? A Guide for the Perplexed

The Intelligence Bureau has, as we know prepared a document, updating it from the time of the UPA regime (which had reportedly started the dossier) indicating large scale foreign funding for subversive anti-development activities. Such as claiming that you have a greater right to your own lands and to your livelihood than monstrous profit-making private companies. Or raising ecological arguments that might stand in the way of the profits to be made by private corporations and the corrupt state elite, from mining, big dams, multi-lane highways and so on.

The IB report, signed by IB joint director Safi A Rizvi — alleges that the “areas of action” of the foreign-funded NGOs include anti-nuclear, anti-coal and anti-Genetically Modified Organisms protests. Apart from stalling mega industrial projects including those floated by POSCO and Vedanta, these NGOs have also been working to the detriment of mining, dam and oil drilling projects in north-eastern India, it adds. 

Imagine – working against the interests of POSCO and Vedanta! Is there no end to the depraved anti-nationalism of these NGOs!

These folks must have made millions of dollars

narmada

In 2012, people affected by the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams protested the raising of dam storage levels by staying in neck-deep water for over a fortnight (Photo: Narmada Bachao Andolan). 

The average observer of Indian politics – being like me, not as sharp as the IB – might be a little befuddled by this apparently anachronistic allergy of two successive governments and its intelligence gathering organization, towards foreign funding, in an era in which the slightest slowing down of the pace of handing over the nation’s resources to multi-national corporations,  is termed as “policy paralysis”, and attacked as detrimental to the health of the mythical “Sensex”. Older readers might remember that the  inspiring slogan of the legendary Jaspal Bhatti’s Feel Good party was Sensex ooncha rahe hamara.

This post is just to help you figure out then, when it is Okay to applaud foreign funding and when it is not – because otherwise you might post something on your FaceBook page that attacks foreign funding when it is actually Okay – and then how stupid and anti-national you’ll look.   Continue reading When Are Foreign Funds Okay? A Guide for the Perplexed

Huge Rally of Narmada Dam Oustees in Bhopal: Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha and Upwaas begins with Demand for Rehabilitation and Resettlement

This is a press release by the NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN

28th June 2013

Rally 2

Thousands of oustees affected by the Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Upper Beda and Man dam demonstrated in capital city Bhopal today and began their Satyagrah. Despite continuous rain in the entire Narmada valley, over 8000 men and women displaced persons have reached Bhopal to camp here for the next 5 days. The affected people demand that all the oustees of these dams should be rehabilitated and resettled with land and all other entitlements, and the injustice being wreaked on them for decades be stopped. Shri Alok Agarwal, senior activist of the Narmada Bacahao Andolan along with 4 men and women oustees have started their fast for 5 days in this “Narmada Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha and Upwaas”.

Gyapan

Continue reading Huge Rally of Narmada Dam Oustees in Bhopal: Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha and Upwaas begins with Demand for Rehabilitation and Resettlement

Letter to the Editor, Times of India: Narmada Bachao Andolan

This guest post by CHITTAROOPA PALIT is the text of a letter to the editor of the Times of India, which the paper has not published

Subject: Rebuttal to the story “Reality bites: Khandwa’s made-for-TV protest” published in Times of India.

Dear Sir,

We are shocked to read the story “Reality bites: Khandwa’s made-for-TV protest” in your esteemed newspaper, which has been published with prominence. The story is false and fabricated. The journalist did not meet any Mehtab Singh but she quoted him. The journalist did talk to my colleague and senior activist of NBA Mr. Alok Agarwal but chooses not to quote him. It may be noted that the OB van and a team of your own group Times Now was there at satyagrah site all the time covering live from 6th September but none of these issues were raised.

Continue reading Letter to the Editor, Times of India: Narmada Bachao Andolan

Mass Politics, Violence and the Radical Intellectual

With the debate on Maoist violence and Operation Green Hunt hotting up, things are taking a disturbing turn. The danger really is that all spaces of radical political movements and indeed the entire space of the Left, part of it gradually vacated by the parliamentary ‘Left’ in recent decades and finally completely abandoned in the last few years, will now be virtually erased. In its place will be installed the phantom of an ‘armed struggle’ that threatens to completely swallow up the spaces once occupied by different shades of the CPI(ML) and the Naxalite movement and other Continue reading Mass Politics, Violence and the Radical Intellectual