April 02, 2007

life in general: birds of the same feather

If the Karats and Yechurys of CPI (M) think the protests against Nandigram's SEZ (which was to be started by an Indonesian company with links to the Indonesian dictator Suharto) are coming from communal forces then either they are living in a world of their own illusions or are pathetically making up any justification they can.

The fact is that when it comes to respecting rural India's rights to live their lives in their lands without a forced top-down state & private sector intervention, no one is different -- Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi, Buddhadeb, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Mulayam Singh, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Arun Jaitley, P. Chidambaram, Laloo Yadav, Jayalalitha, Sharad Pawar, Bal Thackeray, Sonia Gandhi etc -- they are all birds of the same feather. That is precisely the danger India is facing today. Buddhadeb is doing to villagers what Modi does to minorities (not that Modi and his corporate cronies are kind to Gujarat's rural population either).

Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi should not take refuge under the excuse of a rehabilation policy for SEZs or other so-called 'development' projects. It is simply impossible for a rural community, based within an active rural ecosystem involving fertile soil, rivers, mountains, forests etc, to be fairly rehabiliated or even adequately compensated. It is just impossible.

The only way out is for urban residents like me to considerably tone down our lifestyles such demands on natural resources (through industries) is cut drastically. Urban populations, through blind adherence to materialism and sometimes through sheer greed, are as responsible for trying to destroy rural India as are the politicians. Both should realise that in the long run its self-defeating for them because a devastated rural India will eventually destroy their food security and cozy nests.

I take a bow in front of Nandigram's people and social activists like Medha Patkar who stood by the people of Nandigram and who together stood up to the forces of arrogance and authoritarianism. They are first among India's hope.

No comments: