Cut and paste ?development? | india | Hindustan Times
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Cut and paste ?development?

WE ARE witnessing a unique form of debate between Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and the Government. The debate is unique in the sense that it is located in a paradigm of development. As both represent the different school of development.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2006 14:20 IST

WE ARE witnessing a unique form of debate between Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and the Government. The debate is unique in the sense that it is located in a paradigm of development. As both represent the different school of development.

NBA, which is asserting human rights broadly represents human development view. While the Government seems to be pronouncing the infrastructural view i.e. material development (read growth). So we witness clash of human interests Vs material interests.

What seems to be common between (NBA) and Governments (both at the Centre and State) is that both seem to have accepted the logic of Economics. Much celebrated economics of cost and benefit analysis, and dynamics of demand and supply, asking for following the religion of consumption.

Both stakeholders have accepted that displacement could be compensated by providing land/money-NBA of course for pragmatic compulsions. That money (Shakespearian whore) can mediate the suffering caused by absolute uprootedness of culture and not so amazingly this State sponsored uprootedness of culture is named as ‘development’ under the aegis of statist official discourse promulgation.

In our modern times, pagan tribals believe Narmada to be their mother. Remember that the bond is a spiritual one not material. The tribal society suddenly gets deliverance by the State that their natural moral claim of being child of holy Narmada is illegitimate and they have to be displaced for the broader cause of National ‘development’.

This current econometric logic gains currency as it displaces (annihilates) the cultural logic that nurtures the natural and moral claim to be sons and daughters of Holy river Narmada.

Eminent thinker BG Verghese justifies Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) professing that lakhs of tribals migrate in search of employment so SSP can mitigate the acute poverty encountered by Narmada valley tribals. For it may provide social opportunities, so is SSP not a panacea for the State.

Here then questions emanate at various levels. Did State make deliberate efforts to keep tribals under the trap of absolute poverty so that SSP could be justified one day and which it is today, however, common-sensical discourse of development legitimatised by media is equated with infra-structural development and sadly enough it discards the human development.

Why do advocates of cultural pride keep silence on low achievement in human development in our State of Madhya Pradesh, which is far below the national standards and is extremely below in accordance to inter-national standard of human development. Is it that we consider tribals to be culturally inferior or ethnically inferior so that we can cut and paste our notions of development on them.

Questions (read uncomfortable) that need to be raised are - why were tribal societies historically kept in a state of low human development. Probable answers should unravel the hidden agenda of intra- structural development or the ulterior motive of the ruling class that shapes or constructs the State agenda.

Therefore, accepting the substitution of rehabilitation is morally inferior and a compromised position. Irrespective of how fair or unfair it’s implementation may sound. But endeavours for fair implementation of rehabilitation will keep alive public memory that State manufactured poor people can exert their voice on the State to be just and fair.

And unfair implementation will ensure the notions in public memory that State only represents the interests of ruling class i.e. of particular class, therefore, narrow. Thus, it violates its foundational claim to represent the general and in particular the under privileged.

But the most baffling question remains that if the current state of water in SSP does not require to increase its height as the level of water is not enough to justify the increase in height then why? But if the might of the State determines the power to decide, the reason is bound too be submerged.

And submerged will be the forms of alternative thinking and the hopes of peoples struggling for justice. But the history of resistance movements purports to the fact that mightier the dictate for submergence, the stronger is the desire to transcend the imposed servitude.