“If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of the country.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
Look at the two contrasting views of progress and development. Unfortunately, the socialistic mindset of the first Prime Minister of India prevailed as opposed to the Gandhian philosophy of “Gram Swaraj” or people’s democracy as echoed by John Rawls
Eviction of tribal from their lands to pave way for the so-called “development” projects is a grave reminder of how the British must have entered and occupies territories in India – the common thread is exploitation of the land and its resources for people living elsewhere in Britain. When people like Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev say that at partition there was only transfer of power from the White to the Brown rulers, no one can fault them given such regular ill treatment to the native tribals in the so-called free India.
The question no one in the Indian political class asks is: Why should the peaceful co-existential lifestyle of voiceless, uneducated (in modern terms), and defenseless tribes which is responsible for the existence of natural resources in their lands, be sacrificed in favor of the corporate or urban middle class lifestyle that only knows how to consume and nothing about preserving what they are consuming?
The corporations would vanish at the first signs of dwindling profits in the future after spoiling the local ecology and forcing thousands to give-up their dignified way of living with the nature. What will be left for your kids thereafter?
The British colonial regime had robbed the country of its resources and had left it undeveloped and impoverished. However, when India launched its five-year plans it forgot that the development of the West was possible only because of the exploitation of the working class at home and of the colonies abroad. The colonialists turned the colonies into suppliers of raw materials and capital for the industrial revolution in Europe and captive markets for its finished products. That impoverished the colonies.
Newly independent countries, after the World War II, that followed this path were bound to impoverish some of their own communities for the benefit of their middle class since they did not have colonies to exploit. Indian planners were convinced that western development resulted from technology alone and chose precisely this path, unfortunately. Its result is seen in its impact on most tribes who live in the resource rich backward regions. Their resources have been exploited in the name of national development and people have been displaced in order to acquire land for projects. As a result, India has made economic progress but at the cost of suffering and hardships for the tribals who lived in resource rich regions.
Deforestation too has been high for industries and other development projects. Its net result is tribal impoverishment. More than half of them are malnourished, two thirds continue to be illiterate and live below the poverty line. Today globalization adds to their woes. More land than in the past is being acquired to encourage investment by the Indian and foreign private sector which is eyeing mining land in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Thus, there will be more displacement than in the last 60 years, much of it tribal for mining in Middle India and dams in the Northeast.
Read a detailed report on Tribal displacement in India.