Friday, May 15, 2009
Is this Development ?
This picture was taken in Ghaziabad , an NCR region . The picture exhibits two different economies separated by just a wall. The construction in the picture sheds light to urbanisation . The side with small semi-permanent houses exhibit a rural way of life. Cow dung cakes were strewn all over. There were cows , buffalos and Cowpens. There was a hand pump. The people did not look impoverished . This rural look did not make them look appear the urban poor , This was not the jhuggi-jhopri living . People from this settlement do not seem to provide labour to the construction happening besides them . But the use of brick in this settlement suggests some interaction. This is just a speculation. But the real fact is that these people will be displaced very soon as the area is ‘developing’ rapidly. The use of the word ‘displacement’ is ideal here because the concept of rehabilitation often remains unknown and misunderstood. Rehabilitation should consists of proper housing , providing basic amenities(water and electricity supply) and employment opportunities. The Jhuggi-jhopdi settlements are always seen as polluting an area. The settlement is extremely dirty. Everytime one passes through this area , one is bound to curse the local Government(MCD) . But do we care about the underprivileged who inhabit this place ? No , we only care about the look of our area. We all wish to live in posh areas. We demand development in our area and the demolition of JJ settlements is a part of this. Recently , I got the news that the JJ settlement in my area has got demolished . Its all ‘clean’ now. On inquiring about the inhabitants , I got to know that they have actually been shifted to some other area. But the people from the new area keep coming back to our area for employment. It is a common fact that When the Government allots them houses to live in, they sell it or out in on rent. But why does this happen ? This is because they though they are being provided a good shelter , they are not given the means to sustain this new way of living. It is not the underprivileged’s fault . It is the Government’s incomplete work that is responsible. The underprivileged do not have means to a fresh and adequate supply of water. Whenever the MCD water tank reach their area , there is always a jostle. Everyone is in a mad rush to get access to this ‘limited’ resource. For the poor , every drop is precious. The Government encourages education for all . But often the Underprivileged are not able to avail this because the children are needed to supplement daily income . It is annoying to see beggars. They are all well-trained so we can refuse them without feeling any guilt. Giving alms to beggars is punishable , states the Government. But this has not helped because the beggars are increasing day by day. In the present economic scenario , the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. So are we really developing ?
In recent decades , dams have started facing a lot of opposition. Jawaharlal Nehru called Dams ‘the temples of development’ but the reality has been different. In Many cases , the dams have proved to be ecological disasters. The social aspect of dams is also important. Dams displace millions of people and the concept of proper rehabilitation is unknown in this country. The Narmada Bachao Aandolan is the most popular dam-opposition movement. The complete opposition to the Narmada Valley Project , particularly the Saradar Sarovar Dam grew when it was realised that there was no land for rehabilitation . The initial demand of this movement was proper rehabilitation.
The Nandigram and Singur Case also echoes a similar problem . The Government promises rehabilitation and employment opportunities but this never happens. In Nandigram and Singur , the Government forcefully acquired lands. There was widespread violence. But the most interesting part was that the Government in power was a leftist party. Left parties are socialist parties which believe in development for all. So what they did in Nandigram and Singur came as a shock. At Singur , the Government allotted a settlement for the displaced. The Settlement shared the wall with the TATA industrial plant . The wall had large holes which was a way to let excessive water move out. This water would then flood the settlement.
India is proud that it has been regarded as one of the fastest growing economies. But is it really growing ? We are adopting a capitalist mode of production . This is dangerous for our agrarian economy. India is home to millions of villages . Villages are seen as under-developed because we associate Development with huge buildings. Villages provide an economic base to our prosperity as Food production happens there. But our economy is opening at a dangerous speed. The Government is losing control. It is the duty of the Government to distribute wealth evenly. But if liberalisation and Government’s neglect continues at this speed , we will soon be importing food grains. Development does not mean transformation of rural areas into urban areas . It means developing the rural areas. Technology should reach Rural India to increase self-sufficiency. Medical and Educational facilities should be provided. Basic amenities should be provided . Creation of facilities so that Villagers feel no need to migrate to urban areas. The agrarian element has to be retained. There is definitely no problem with urbanisation. Urbanisation is pleasure. But there is a need to redefine development. The Underprivileged should not suffer. They should not become martyrs for development of some. Development should be for all – people and regions.