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Forced Or Spontaneous Development?

Adhikar/May-june 2011

Forced Or Spontaneous Development?

Land grabbing for industries and developmental projects. This land grabbing has become a cause of concern to the government, industrial houses as well as the public. Till yesterday, the people of Jharkhand as well as other mineral rich regions were crying themselves hoarse against this loot of land. But the so-called developed society along with government and companies honoured them with such names as rustic, antidevelopmental, anti-national and what-not. Today, the need for land grabbing has increased to such an extent that they not only need the lands of Nuagaon and Gobindpur in Odisha, they also need the lands of rich farmers in developed areas like Greater Noida. The farmers of both these regions are causing headache to the rulers of democratic India. These farmers are taking bullets and lathis from the police as well as the henchmen of companies, but they are determined and firm. In other words, both sides have locked horns and are ready for battle.

There are two perspectives on this. One group understands land grabbing as beneficial to the people, while the other group considers it as threatening to their interests. On first glance, these two perspectives may look contradictory, but both are products of the same historical context, which gave rise to laws like the Land Acquisition Act. The starting point for both these lines of thinking is colonialism. Unless we are able to understand and emerge out of this, we will not be able to find a solution to this problem. This conclusion is not just for India, but also for all those countries and regions, which have carried the burden of colonialist rule.

The countries or regions, which have suffered from colonial rule, their folk memories, and folk legends, have been so much under pressure from European modernism that they made it the purpose of their independence to usher in this modernity. Several leaders of our independence struggle, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru have been adherents of this ideology. As a result the draft for building up of the nascent Indian state was based on the principles of European modernism. The pressure of modernism was so great on us that period in our history, which was a period of transition with numerous upheavals, has been qualified as the most stagnant period in our country’s history. It was during this period that social movements such as the Bhakti movement were strong. The first condition for establishing British colonialism in India, was the destruction of our people’s history. This is the reason why even today, Dr. Manmohan Singh, our present Prime Minister does not get tired of singing praises to the British Empire for their role in making our country educationally and intellectually developed, whenever he is invited to deliver a speech at Cambridge University.

If we need to cope with today’s dilemmas whose roots are hidden deep within European modernism, we need to go beyond this and look into the folk-lores and folk-history of those societies who have kept themselves safely outside the reach of this modernism. This is the consciousness required by the present time, without which our dilemmas will continue to persist and haunt us. We can wipe off a disease only through the annihilation of the germs causing the disease, not through breeding them.

Not only our country, the whole world is distressed with the capitalist system. And is searching for ways to escape. That is why our middle-class intellectual society is searching for an end to corruption, sometimes with the help of Anna Hazare, sometimes through Baba Ramdev. After sixty years of experience, they still do not understand that it is impossible for this system to survive without corruption. This is a game that the ruling class wants to show us and we are happy watching it. We think, come on, now corruption is going to come to an end. When modern capitalism, encountered its second financial crisis, which is known in history as South Sea Bubble in 1711, corruption was the root cause. Even today, not only in India, but wherever capitalism is present, corruption is at its peak, this can be understood just by looking at the recent instances of granting mining leases either to Reddy brothers or Vedanta plant.

If we want to get out of this situation, we need to move forward in the direction of an alternate system, which was envisioned by some of our leaders who were part of the Independence struggle, but did not receive the recognition that Gandhiji and Nehru did. We will have to sift through their dreams and retrieve those principles, which oppose modernism that furthers imperialism. We will have to search in the pages of the past. The histories of Jharkhand and similar other regions have not been properly recorded or understood till now. We need to decide the course of our development, searching through these histories and adopting principles from them. But it is the misfortune of these regions that the ruling classes have been promoting those very models of development, against which their people have been constantly agitating. We have just recently celebrated the martyrdom day of Birsa Munda, who had forced the mighty British Empire to bend down and legislate the first land protection law for Adivasi people, which is known as C.N.T. Act.

But despite this Act, Adivasi land was being looted in this state even after independence and the formation of Jharkhand. The same as in the case of dowry, though there is a strong anti-dowry act in this country, dowry is openly taken and given every day. I have this to ask of those who argue for making strict laws, what happens after? We will have to awaken social and political consciousness against this loot, otherwise, the stricter the laws, the more number of loopholes there will be to escape.

Therefore, let the law be strict. But there should also be people to implement the law, only then can Adivasi land be protected. There will be more businesses opened with the demand of making the laws stricter, but we cannot trust them to save our lands. Ultimately, it is the people here who have to save their lands. They will have to be prepared for that. The people will be prepared only when they locate the road to their development in their folk-lores and folk-history. And that too, such a development, which should be seen challenging the existing models of development. Which is possible.