Wednesday, April 05, 2006

why support the NBA?

It is my impression that majority of the middle-class, the upper-class---the ones that have most benefited from the 8-10% economic boom and are "shining"--- are mostly apathetic or even hostile towards people's movements in India today.
Here are my two cents worth of why all of us (in whatever strata we are---lower, middle, upper) should support in any way possible, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and other people's movements.
  • Accountability: The government is charged with violation of Supreme Court's verdict (clearance without rehabilitation and distributing money instead of land to the Project Affected Peoples). If such acts are not protested against, it will just add to the unaccountability of the State and one day anyone one of us might be the ones affected by it.
  • Responsibility: Even if you agree in the "greater-common-good" argument of so-called "development", if you enjoy access to water/electricity and/or live in an urban locality, it is most likely that you get it as a result of a dam---which has surely displaced many! The politicians pit the urban beneficiaries against those displaced people and label protestors "anti-development", "anti-national" etc.---conveniently done to remove focus from their responsibilities of clean/transparent evaluation and implementation of the projects. For those--the rural poor---who have been displaced by many such "national interest" projects with little or zero chance of getting the benefits (water/electricity/steel/airports...), isn't it our moral responsibility to make sure that they are adequately rehabilitated before we enjoy the benefits?
  • Alternatives: The government over the past 50 years has invested in huge infrastructure projects and continues to do so. Many studies have been done and alternative models suggested. Why aren't we seeing any seriousness of pursuing or exploring these options? Are they better? What is the government's stand on these approaches? Can they justify investment in big projects which are more than anything else huge monuments of corruption?

    Other than the vote, peoples movements are a way to register protest and question the governments motives and make it more accountable for its actions.

    Vishnu said...

    Not related to the post, but related to Narmada: Have you seen this article on the Indian Express?

    tejal said...

    I disagree with a lot of Mr. Chkrabarti's analysis. He says
    "Industry (factory employment) is the only means to absorb those displaced from agriculture."
    Is the State to decide that people should now work in industry as opposed to agriculture because there isnt any redistributable agricultural land? Who gives it that right?
    At a time when worldwide, thousands of industrial workers are getting laid off their jobs due to various reasons, in my opinion it is "romantic" to say that industry would be a good absorbent for the displaced PAPs. Also, where is the State going to make place for such a lot of unskilled labor (unskilled they will be because of the generations of agriculture behind them)? When the current employment scenario in the organized sector is so bad that the Maharashtra Employment authority in the Welfare dept hasnt provided employment opportunity for a single person since 1982, it is "romantic" to expect that 50,000 jobs will get created out of the blue just like that especially for the PAPs.
    In my opinion, Medha Patkar is not the "romantic" here, Mr. Charabarti is. In my opinion, the land for land demand is very pragmatic.

    Purushottam said...

    as Tejal mentioned, I too don't agree with the assumption in the article that industralization is the solution for dealing with displacement. Further, i think comparing Petkar and Advani by putting them in the same overall category of promising-starts-but-now-loosers is ridiculous--- it is like saying communal riots and communal harmony are equivalent. Also, the NBA movement raises important questions regarding the model of development that the government policies are geared towards and the role of people participation in government policies---both very important and urgent issues---points which the article does not consider!