March 27, 2008

life in financial markets: blood steel


I was watching Blood Diamond for the 10th time an hour ago. At the end of the movie after the main part of the story is played out and Solomon Vandi, the Sierra Leone African, is invited to talk at a conference in South Africa there is a particular dialogue made by an Englishman that I find very pertinent to quote here:
"The natural resources of a country are the sovereign property
of its people. They are not ours to steal or exploit in the name of our comfort or our corporations or our consumerism."

I can not but feel that urban Indian consumers and consumers from affluent countries are responsible for what I term as 'Blood Steel' happening in the forests, mountains and villages of Orissa state and other states in India. Foreign companies and Indian companies like Vedanta/Sterlite are forcibly displacing locals from their homes in order to carry out mining of ores of iron and other earth metals. Not just consumers but financial markets worldwide trade in these metals. (the photo to the right is of an alumina refinery in Orissa & has been taken from http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/VirtualContent/85654/orissa_mine.jpg)

Moderate consumerism is the first step towards discouraging 'Blood Steel'. How many among us would take this step?

2 comments:

sree ram said...

i agree with you Gajra sir, but as you know consumerism is the only way of improving standard of living of the rural poor, we should rather go for social upliftment of the displaced people first and take natural resources for the greater usage, only the monetary compensation will never do justice. I think Tatas succeeded to some extent, they went for upliftment of skills of the rural poor and tried to employ them in the future, but unfortunately as there is no anti-defection law applicable to them, they were being poached by the rival mining/steel companies like Sterlite and Posco

Rajesh said...

hi sree ram, consumerism is fine if done in moderation and done intelligently such that natural resources are used sparingly and also recycled. tatas have always benefited from some subsidy or the other from some state government or the other. and when companies like vedanta, reliance, tatas influence government to forcibly displace those who otherwise would not have wanted to leave their homes, then where is the upliftment? where, even, is the capitalism's principle of respecting private property rights? the land acquistion act and now also the SEZ act is being abused in order to evict them from their homes and lands.

according to me is that the poor can manage much better if we can just:
- stop violating their rights as indian citizens and their capitalism-encouraged rights to property,
- stop polluting the rivers that flows through their villages or settlements,
- stop fouling the air they breathe through our remotely located coal-fired power plants or chemical gases-emitting factories,
- encourage micro-lending for their women to set up small agri-based industries