DEVELOPMENT DISPLACEMENT: WHOSE NATION IS IT?

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  • user warning: Table './davidk9_korten/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<P>\nPCDForum Column #77,&nbsp;&nbsp; Release Date July 10, 1995\n</p> \n<P>\nby Smitu Kothari\n</p>\n<P>\nAs far back as the mid-19th century of people in India\'s tribal areas organized\nprotests and rebellions against British colonial laws such as the Forest Act of\n1876, which prevented their use of the forest lands on which their way of life\ndepended. Though India gained its independence in 1950, the displacement once\nassociated with colonialism continues in the name of development.\n</p>\n<P>\nSince Independence, development projects under India\'s Five-Year plans have\ndisplaced about 500,000 persons each year--evicted from their lands by direct\nadministrative actions of government. This figure does not include those\ndeprived of their livelihoods by the expansion of large estate monoculture\nproduction, or those deprived of their livelihoods by project related natural\nresource extraction, urban evictions, or by the relocation of other\ndisplacement victims. Estimates of the total number of those displaced by &quot;development&quot;\nsince independence reaches as high 40 million people. India\'s recent thrust to\nopen itself to the global economy and rely more on market forces will surely\naccelerate the displacement.\n</p>\n<P>\nHydroelectric and irrigation projects are the largest source of displacement and\ndestruction of habitat. Other major sources are mines, thermal and nuclear power\nplants, industrial complexes, military installations, weapons testing grounds,\nrailways, roads, and the expansion of reserved forest areas, sanctuaries and\nparks.\n</p>\n<P>\nDisplacement results in dismantling production systems, severing trade and\nmarket links, desecrating ancestral sacred zones, graves, and temples,\nscattering kinship groups and extended families, and weakening cultural systems\nof self-management and control. The consequences are especially severe for\nwomen. They lose access to the fuel, fodder and food they traditionally\ncollected for their households from common lands. They thus face increased\npauperization and are thrust into the margins of the labor market.\n</p>\n<P>\nThough India\'s tribal people make up roughly 7.5 percent of the population, over\n40 percent of those displaced from 1950 to 1990 were from tribal communities.\nSince 1990 the figure has risen to 50 percent. Planners and administrators\ninvariably capitalize on and manipulate the relatively weaker socio-economic and\npolitical position of most of the people facing displacement. Their numbers are\nunderestimated, they are treated indifferently and only minimal cash\ncompensation, if at all, is paid. They are rarely granted security of tenure on\nalternative developed land sites. All too often after a painful and traumatic\nperiod of establishing a new lifestyle, they are informed they must move again\nto make way for yet another project. Despite the scale of the displacement and\nthe efforts of some governmental and independent groups, resettlement efforts\ncontinue to be shoddy and grossly inadequate.\n</p>\n<P>\nIn the post-Independence period, progress, national self-sufficiency,\nindustrialism, and large development projects were seen as synonymous. Carried\nby the euphoria of nation building, most &quot;sacrifices&quot; sought by the\nrulers were widely seen as legitimate, justified as being for the &quot;national\ngood.&quot; Given the number of displacements and the plight suffered by the\ndisplaced, many are now asking: whose nation is it? Whose good is being served?\n</p>\n<P>\nA common question from people facing displacement is that while precise details\nexist regarding the technical and economic aspects of the projects, backed by\nscores of professionals, why is there never a plan for them? Why are they never\nconsulted?\n</p>\n<P>\nEven where government does attempt to address its responsibility to the\ndisplaced, there is an underlying assumption that since displacement is\ninevitable, the need is to &quot;deal&quot; with the trauma, not to question the\nproject, much less the development model, that is causing the displacement. No\none considers that perhaps the current pattern of economic development invoked\nto justify the forced evictions of people is itself incompatible with the goals\nof equity and social security.\n</p>\n<P>\nIt is time to recognize that the projects in which massive public investments\nare being made involve not only the harnessing of natural resources such as\nland, water, minerals, and forests, they also alter the existing distribution,\nuse, access to, and control over natural resources among different sections of\nsociety. This raises vital issues concerning fairness, equity and justice.\n</p>\n<P>\nAn improvement in the lives of those whom a project otherwise imposes severe\ncosts in order to create benefits for others should be considered an\nentitlement, not an act of reluctant generosity--a basic test of project\nbenefit. While the first goal should be to find alternatives that cause minimal\ndisplacement, in those instances where displacement is inevitable, it is\nimperative that the full costs of rehabilitation be internalized into the\nproject cost.</p>\n<hr />\n<P>\nSmitu Kothari is editor of the Lokayan Bulletin, 13, Allpur Road, Delhi 110054,\nIndia. Fax (91-11) 662-6837 and a contributing editor of The People-Centered\nDevelopment Forum. This column was prepared and distributed by the PCDForum\nbased on his editorial in the March-April 1995 Lokayan Bulletin.</p>\n<hr />\n<P>\nPeople-Centered Development Forum articles and columns may be reproduced and\ndistributed freely without prior permission.&nbsp; \n</p>\n<P>\n<!--webbot bot=\"Navigation\" S-Type=\"arrows\" S-Orientation=\"horizontal\"\nS-Rendering=\"graphics\" B-Include-Home=\"TRUE\" B-Include-Up=\"TRUE\" U-Page S-Target startspan\n--><nobr>[&nbsp;<a href=\"76putnam\" target=\"\">Back</a>&nbsp;]</nobr> <nobr>[&nbsp;<a href=\"../\" target=\"\">Home</a>&nbsp;]</nobr> <nobr>[&nbsp;<a href=\"../1995\" target=\"\">Parent&nbsp;Page</a>&nbsp;]</nobr> <nobr>[&nbsp;<a href=\"78Quizon%20multidev\" target=\"\">Next</a>&nbsp;]</nobr><!--webbot bot=\"Navigation\" endspan i-checksum=\"61487\"\n-->\n</p>\n', created = 1411178062, expire = 1411264462, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:7fb39a47f615ee39fc8f76330e328358' in /home/davidk9/public_html/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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PCDForum Column #77,   Release Date July 10, 1995

by Smitu Kothari

As far back as the mid-19th century of people in India's tribal areas organized protests and rebellions against British colonial laws such as the Forest Act of 1876, which prevented their use of the forest lands on which their way of life depended. Though India gained its independence in 1950, the displacement once associated with colonialism continues in the name of development.

Since Independence, development projects under India's Five-Year plans have displaced about 500,000 persons each year--evicted from their lands by direct administrative actions of government. This figure does not include those deprived of their livelihoods by the expansion of large estate monoculture production, or those deprived of their livelihoods by project related natural resource extraction, urban evictions, or by the relocation of other displacement victims. Estimates of the total number of those displaced by "development" since independence reaches as high 40 million people. India's recent thrust to open itself to the global economy and rely more on market forces will surely accelerate the displacement.

Hydroelectric and irrigation projects are the largest source of displacement and destruction of habitat. Other major sources are mines, thermal and nuclear power plants, industrial complexes, military installations, weapons testing grounds, railways, roads, and the expansion of reserved forest areas, sanctuaries and parks.

Displacement results in dismantling production systems, severing trade and market links, desecrating ancestral sacred zones, graves, and temples, scattering kinship groups and extended families, and weakening cultural systems of self-management and control. The consequences are especially severe for women. They lose access to the fuel, fodder and food they traditionally collected for their households from common lands. They thus face increased pauperization and are thrust into the margins of the labor market.

Though India's tribal people make up roughly 7.5 percent of the population, over 40 percent of those displaced from 1950 to 1990 were from tribal communities. Since 1990 the figure has risen to 50 percent. Planners and administrators invariably capitalize on and manipulate the relatively weaker socio-economic and political position of most of the people facing displacement. Their numbers are underestimated, they are treated indifferently and only minimal cash compensation, if at all, is paid. They are rarely granted security of tenure on alternative developed land sites. All too often after a painful and traumatic period of establishing a new lifestyle, they are informed they must move again to make way for yet another project. Despite the scale of the displacement and the efforts of some governmental and independent groups, resettlement efforts continue to be shoddy and grossly inadequate.

In the post-Independence period, progress, national self-sufficiency, industrialism, and large development projects were seen as synonymous. Carried by the euphoria of nation building, most "sacrifices" sought by the rulers were widely seen as legitimate, justified as being for the "national good." Given the number of displacements and the plight suffered by the displaced, many are now asking: whose nation is it? Whose good is being served?

A common question from people facing displacement is that while precise details exist regarding the technical and economic aspects of the projects, backed by scores of professionals, why is there never a plan for them? Why are they never consulted?

Even where government does attempt to address its responsibility to the displaced, there is an underlying assumption that since displacement is inevitable, the need is to "deal" with the trauma, not to question the project, much less the development model, that is causing the displacement. No one considers that perhaps the current pattern of economic development invoked to justify the forced evictions of people is itself incompatible with the goals of equity and social security.

It is time to recognize that the projects in which massive public investments are being made involve not only the harnessing of natural resources such as land, water, minerals, and forests, they also alter the existing distribution, use, access to, and control over natural resources among different sections of society. This raises vital issues concerning fairness, equity and justice.

An improvement in the lives of those whom a project otherwise imposes severe costs in order to create benefits for others should be considered an entitlement, not an act of reluctant generosity--a basic test of project benefit. While the first goal should be to find alternatives that cause minimal displacement, in those instances where displacement is inevitable, it is imperative that the full costs of rehabilitation be internalized into the project cost.


Smitu Kothari is editor of the Lokayan Bulletin, 13, Allpur Road, Delhi 110054, India. Fax (91-11) 662-6837 and a contributing editor of The People-Centered Development Forum. This column was prepared and distributed by the PCDForum based on his editorial in the March-April 1995 Lokayan Bulletin.


People-Centered Development Forum articles and columns may be reproduced and distributed freely without prior permission. 

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