10 February 2013

'Development' as Threat

It is not poverty, but 'development' that is the greatest threat to society, polity, humanity and environment. This is so because the notion of development envisaged is very narrowly defined leading to a misplaced emphasis on superficial aspects and is focused on the 'economy' which also is very narrowly defined. It follows that the impacts from such an endeavour are at best illusory as if in a mirage. This has led to a neglect of real aspects and thereby neglecting people and other matters of relevance. 

This comes as a reaction to the picture posted above, that I saw in facebook. The caption of the picture is as follows.
Face of Development and Plight of the Displaced:

These couple were newly married when the Hirakud Dam was constructed in the 50s. They were forced to vacate their village as the reservoir water started entering the village. They gathered all that they could and carried to a new place which the Govt. said they should go and stay. They built their own hut with local materials like twigs, grass and clay. They owned 5 acres of land in their original village but are landless now. They are wage earners at this age!!

Fifty years on, that is still their fate. The government says this is development. The couple asks, 'is it?'
This, of course, questions the interpretation of Indira Gandhi's speech, as the then Prime Minister of India, at the UN Conference in Stockholm in 1972 which some people equate with tagging poverty being a threat to environment. And, of course, questions the narrow interpretation of the  governments in India as also elsewhere on the meaning of development.

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