Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pembangunan: whose agenda?

After reading Farmer's account, I stayed silent for a long time; it pushed me into deep introspection. It reminded me of the displacement colony in Koraput. There are some unique tribal families living there in the colony. They were once very prosperous with acres of land and beautiful home in the ravine land irrigated by the Kolab river. Then came "Pembangunan". Orissa constructed the Upper Kolab hydroelectric project to electrify the capital towns and business hubs thousands of miles away and these families' houses, lands and villages  were submerged by the Kolab dam reservoir. The villages are still visible when the water goes down, an eerie, beautiful sight. The families moved to a nearby place. They again dug up foundations and built their houses. "Pembangunan" came again in form of a huge factory which manufactured aircraft parts; the proud leaders declared that we have been blessed with the important project by the Indian government. It produced jobs, thousands and most of them needing skilled labour and a smattering of education, english, western education. The local tribals did not have that qualification, most qualified as daily laborers, at least they knew how to communicate with nature and so they worked to break earth, cut trees, make roads, buildings. The families had to make way for the factory and they were resettled in another hamlet. They again busied themselves in rebuilding their lives, some moved elsewhere, some went deeper into inaccessible jungles. The "resettled" families made good of their land and homes till the government decided to exploit the minerals in the mountain ranges. "Pembangunan" took over; the behemoth NALCO (National Aluminium Company) decided to exploit the Bauxite deposits in the mountains. Now there is a huge township, metalled roads, lights, electricity, english medium schools, modern markets, internet cafes and so on, all accoutrements of modernity. The tribal families have concrete roads, brick houses with fans, piped water, and stay in a huge colony called Nalco resettlement colony which they share with other resettled refugees from Bangladesh and migrants from neighbouring state Andhrapradesh. The colony is a hotbed of crime, disease, prostitution, gambling, liquor and so on. Certainly, "pembangunan" has done wonders. The area abounds with Acephies and Chouchous.

I still do not have the answer after reading all the excellent readings about culture, structure, marginalization, agency, privileging a medical approach, constitutive strategies, traditional medicines, embodiment etc..The current flavour is getting everyone on the table to agree on common approaches and framing strategies for the "poor", the "deprived"; and who is the "everyone"? All the dominant actors, the policy makers, implementers, (government, donor agencies, NGOs, UN organizations, learned academics, local intelligentsia, tribal leaders)....In today's society where do we effect the change? I do not think there is any meaning in articulating words like "center" and "periphery". These are for us, educated in critical theory and reading these excellent erudition. Quo Vadis...

I leave this unfinished as I am lost..lost in my search for answers however contested...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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