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Disruption for Development

October 15, 2008

How would one define the progress of a nation? Is it any different from the growth of its citizens? In India, the irony is that what is considered necessary for the progress of the nation is not in sync with the benefit of its people. One may ask how. There are countless examples. Building of dams for hydro-power and storage of water or setting up of industries and special economic zones may seem to be a great boon for the nation, but is it really the case? We need to look deeper into the problems.

We cannot deny the fact that these projects are for the greater good of the nation. A large number of people reap the benefits. However, this largely visible reality overshadows the consequences of such projects on the local people of the area where the projects are established.

Did you know that the state governments have the authority to force people to vacate their lands without giving a reason if it is for the good of the public? The law is so abstract that the state governments need not give any explanation to the people who reside on the land. In fact they are forced to accept the miserly compensation packages offered to them and simply move out.

Another startling fact that I came across was that the residents are provided the monetary compensation for the land which they vacate at a rate which exists before the proposed development occurs. As a result of the expected development, the land rates increase in the area tremendously (A 500% rise in the periphery of the Tata Nano plant in Gujurat within 3 days of the announcement). With the compensation initially given to the residents, they are effectively incapable of having the means to purchase another plot of land in the same locality, because of which they are forced to relocate to another region.

Rarely do the state governments fulfill all the promises which they make to the people. With no means of subsistence, what other option do these people have but protest. One might argue that the economic development will create new opportunities for the people, but then the development takes time. A potter who works on daily wages, or a farmer who doesn’t reap a harvest for 3-4 years, can’t starve till their turn comes to contribute and earn.

No development is fair unless it places the interest of the people of the region in front of anything else. No displacement is justified unless the displaced are one of the parties that are benefitting. Unless India formalizes the process of displacement and rehabilitation for large scale development projects, incidents like the Narmada Andolan and Singur protests are going to show their ugly head time and again.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2008 8:36 pm

    Its true that the welfare of the people must be taken into consideration while implementing some development projects. But what goes wrong here is government fails provide a right compensation for the affected people. Its not worried about the future of that people and gives a one time compensation amount.

    But If you take the singur project, If it was implemented then the face of the west bengal would be changed and it will paved the way for industrialisation there. What happened there has taken the state backwards which doesn’t holds good.

  2. October 15, 2008 8:47 pm

    This one is a circle. But at least here in India, we are able to freely debate on a topic like this in any forum (Whether On-Line or Off-Line). In certain places, even that is not allowed. The state does things with iron hands. And people have to accept it. But those countries have prospered and are doing much better than us. But some other countries have failed on similar practices.

    It really depends on how you define the success and growth of a nation. We need to be clear about that in the first place. Are we?

    Destination Infinity

  3. October 15, 2008 11:35 pm

    @kanagu
    Completely agree that Singur had a political angle to it. The problem is the people are uneducated about the facts and misled. But what followed before vis-a-vis a downscaled version of Nandigram was wrong.

    @DI
    Yeah, China is a glaring example. For the Olympics people were forced to render their service and give away their lands so that it could present to the world a visual spectacle. Yet, the world has no spine to challenge China because it is the global back office of almost all the capitalist giants.

  4. October 16, 2008 6:26 pm

    I have read a book on this,the algebra of infinite…(ops i forgot) by Arundathi Roy….

    Sometimes the greater good,is just an eye wash..

  5. October 16, 2008 9:33 pm

    Ya….I agree with Destination infinity that its better in case of India atleast in that way.

    But, I think, the govt was given such powers, bearing in mind the circumstances then…. Like for example, govt was supported well, not corrupt and worked for the people and such laws help in taking land from the big land lords (who used to exist then) easily for greater good!!

    Things have changed way far now and there is a urgent need to retrospect and change systems!!

  6. October 17, 2008 8:11 pm

    Our politicians forget the meaning of ‘welfare state’…or misinterpret it to refer to their own welfare…

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