Sunday, 26 March 2017
South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED)-Lecture Series
Date: 15th May 2013
Time: 2 pm
Place: Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF), Delhi.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN INDEPENDENT INDIA
Dr. Arun Kumar
Dr. Arun Kumar is Professor and is ex-chairperson in internationally reputed and India’s best Jawaharlal Nehru University, Centre of Economic Studies and Planning, New Delhi. His recently published book “Indian Economy Since Independence: Persisting Colonial Disruptions” was presented at the lecture series hosted by South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED) at Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF) on May 15th, 2013.
The name of the book is very thoughtfully given. While taking Globalization as the central theme in Indian growth story he denied it as a recent phenomenon and instead went ahead taking 1750 and 1947 as breakpoints in history.
India’s involvement in global trade has existed since eons but the circumstances changed when India got colonized. Two-way globalization always existed in the country, but with the advent of East India Company in the 1750s, we got reduced to one-way globalization and poor from brain. Although, major paradigm shifts in policy happened in 1947 and 1991, 1982 is a crucial year too, for initial impetus to liberalization.
From 1950 onwards, the state played as a dominant actor with main focus on Indigenous growth, the major policy followed was-tremendous increase of investment in agriculture and heavy industry in the 1950s followed by wars, droughts and visibility of initial policy failure in 1960s leading to economic stagnation. The decade of 70s was also a challenge due to growing internal strife and oil shocks but with commencement of green revolution and rise of neo-liberalism we managed to reach a growth rate almost double of “Hindu Growth Rate” from 3% to 6% by the end of 1980s.
1991 onwards was the phase of Market Dominance. It saw the arrival of NEP and dichotomous growth with no acceleration. Later in 2002-03 the policies making with its dependence on phrase “Growth at any cost” led to a great stance of inequality and poverty in the country which pumped up the crisis of 2008-09.
The basic sectoral division of economy into primary, secondary and tertiary is followed by further subdivision into 9 sectors depending upon organized, unorganized, private and public components. Idealistic growth pattern; development of primary sector should be followed by secondary which leads to development of proper tertiary sector. The Indian case is starkly different because in 1950’s our tertiary sector was greater than secondary. Unlike other developed South Asian countries, state dominance for five decades could not add to country, major rationale being- black economy as an integral part of country, which aggravates inefficiency of data followed by failure of governance.
Unemployment rate remained as low as 2 to 2.5% for a very long time after independence but that doesn’t imply that the state succeeded in job creation for most of the people. Instead, “Employment is being confused with underemployment to a great extent” due to existence of organized and unorganized component in the employment market. His analyses showed that 80% of the investment went into large scale industry which gives employment to just 7% of the country’s population today and the rest 93% are employed in medium, small and Cottage industry where only 20% of the total investment in Industry goes. Hence, the growth after 2002-03 with an average growth rate 9.9% and low employment elasticity could be explained as “Jobless Growth”. Technical progress turned out to be labor displacing against “Arthur Lewis” expectation of technology to be labor absorbing.
With total focus of the First Five Year Plan on Agriculture the economy did see some improvement it got in total output in 1950’s which got hampered from shift of interest towards industry in the next plan and aggravated further by drought in mid and end 1960s. With urgent need felt for “food security” came the Green Revolution in early 1970s. With the use of ground water irrigation, High yield variety (HYV) seeds and mechanization agriculture saw a great increase in productivity but the production was concentrated to very few regions and some groups saw shift in crop patterns. The major problem in agriculture persisted because of Asymmetry in price setting with industry- agriculture following competitive pricing unlike industry where prices are either oligopolistic or monopolistic. To tackle this problem CACP (Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices) introduced a dual pricing policy wherein producers are paid Minimum Support Price (MSP) and poor households are given subsidized prices through PDS.
India followed Infant industry argument for protection of domestic market and gained support from state through reservation for small scale which got diluted by 1991 due to introduction of various acts like Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices Act (MRTPA) in 1969, Foreign Exchange regulation Act (FERA) in 1974 and by 1991 a move was towards- diversification and modernization of industry.
Tertiary Sector after 1991 became a dominant sector which does not necessarily imply quantum growth in the sector, but a portion of the increase could be explained through technological, accounting change and increase in need for services and concentration of black economy. But his analysis showed that the services sector after checking on above explained facts saw tremendous growth. This spurt could be explained through increase in demand for productive and consumptive services, growth in software and telecom post 1991. In a nutshell the growth of service sector post-1991 can be explained with liberalization, scale economies and black economy together.
Government is the biggest economic entity which directs its entire economy with its actions. Tax is received as revenue which is used as government expenditure to finance the development of the country. Tax could be broadly classified into: 1) Direct tax: Corporation tax and Income tax are major examples. 2) Indirect Tax: custom, sales, etc. In the year 1947, 45% of the total revenue from tax collection came from direct taxes which got reduced to mere 13% in 1991. Current share is 40% from direct tax and 60% from indirect tax. The Classification of taxes is important because while direct tax enhances output growth, indirect taxes are collected in the process of consumption hence stagflationary. Taxes like wealth tax and estate duty are progressive and work towards reducing intergenerational equality but due to lobby influence such taxes did not existed post-1991.
In 1991 our economy was open like any other country but the problem existed with the policy of high import duty which discouraged imports without encouraging exports. We imported technology to a great extent and other imports by the rich led to severe BOP crisis by the end of 1980s.Technology is a moving frontier which can be bought from the first world either due to strategic reasons or FDI which comes with FII keeping economy at more risk during the time of crisis.
Poverty is space and time specific and differs from one place to another according to their expenditure habits. But in the Indian case Poverty line represents extreme poverty and policy formed to check this problem was dependent on trickle down approach of Lewis model, which was a failure because the model was suitable for the west and our social and economic conditions were different. Physical infrastructure of the country was Reflection of modernization and elitism. Banking and credit were meant to enhance the business of elite. In order to channel funds to the poor Indian govt. in 1969 nationalized all major banks. Post 1991, succumbing to elite, concentrated urbanization which can never be a solution for development and instead enhanced both rural-urban and urban disparity. Growing energy intensity and dependence on imported energy resulted in many crisis a move towards sustainable development and using telecommunication as an alternative for transportation could be way forward. Social infrastructure saw a rapid expansion post-1947 but quality suffered.
It was tried to overcome the infrastructure gap during colonization by copying western infrastructure which was not suitable for our system. Disadvantage of last start has been confused with advantage, where you have models to learn lessons from and change of perspective should be taken care of. In case of India, the central theme for development is coming from the west. Education system today is copied from west, the policy makers come from foreign universities, and hence most of the ideas are recycled from west. Health, problems reflect a lack of a holistic perspective and the issue environmental damage has been kept aside. Two noble professions health and education is no more left noble due to commercialization.
India is a far more complex structure and cannot be characterized as capitalist or feudal in their pure form. While one can learn from others, development paths cannot be copied. Disruptions continue from pre 1947 leadership lacking in independence of thought. Technology is a moving frontier hence creates a mist so the future is not clear which leads to short-termism and leadership succumbs to it. Markets split up each question into separate ones hence the problem is generated due to interdependence are ignored. There is a great need for long-term solution which includes movement towards sustainable development while checking on major problems like growing inequity and extreme poverty.
South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED)-Lecture Series
Date: 16th May 2013
Time: 10.00 am
Place: Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF), Delhi.
INDIAN ECONOMY SINCE INDEPENDENCE: TRACING THE DYNAMICS OF
Contemporary India is full of contradictions with continuing mass poverty and illiteracy. The average growth rate has risen far from that during independence but sustainability is missing. The growth is guided by corporate sector, which is unsustainable due to contagious effects of financial crisis. Development after independence is a short-term solution and focus needs to be shifted from short term to long term. Colonial disruption is still persisting, which is not to say that all the blame has to be apportioned to the British but that Indians need to share the blame for what happened to them. (Tolstoy in his letters and Gandhi in Hind Swaraj).
Need for a historical View
Our conditions are different from west hence we cannot follow the same policies. Time, space and geographical context are very important – if not included in policy making than becomes ahistorical. In physics, we analyze the world the way it is but in economics, every economist forms his own universe with assumptions suitable to him. For example neo classical had their assumptions and classical had theirs.
Disruption of Indian Society
Globally, colonial rule resulted in disrupted societies. Internal dynamics got adversely affected and social relationships mediated through interest of outside power. Post- independence society got reconstructed under adverse conditions. There is `loss of value of ideas’ in society. Dominant idea amongst the elite that West is modern and therefore superior while indigenous is backward to be discarded. Colonial rule broke the interconnection between elite and layman and there was need of mediating class. Police and other bureaucracy was instrument of control instead of public service like in the west, that’s how our modernity got overpowered by western modernity. Integral development never happened, since we forgot to develop ourselves from grassroots. Surplus generation in agriculture belonged to British. Nationalist leadership from amongst elite agriculture, industry, leadership, reinforced feudal elements in society, education, etc. and left their footprints on important aspects of post- independence India’s social, political and economic life.
In the Second Five Year Plan, India tried to copy west through application of successful Lewis model which did not suit the Indian situation. It’s a top down approach dual sector model according to which development of industry would trickle down to other sectors. This happened in the west because technology was integrated, here we needed inception from grass root. But policymakers while following the Lewis model, decided to fulfill the gap through import of technology (import of television hampered reading habits in India and more people were illiterate). Technology is a moving frontier and need anticipation in order to reach optimal solution. Copying from west is the philosophy we always followed disregarding its long-term consequences. Strategically Indian policymakers remained with Soviet Union while following western model philosophically.
During its entire growth path from 1950’s till today, India has seen repeated crisis of food security, continuing poverty, illiteracy, ill health, and so on but we never followed the policy of learning from mistakes. By late 60s planning commission’s importance was overpowered by World Bank and World Trade Organization where World Bank follows crony capitalism- its tagline changes according to demand of capitalism. Finally, crisis of late 1980s gave a chance for implementation of marketization which Indira Gandhi restricted for almost more than a decade. This new economic policy of free market gave way to marginalization of the marginalized through deleting the difference between necessity and luxury.
Initially in 1947 all problems were seen to have a social basis and needed to be solved collectively driving the state to a dominant position. Later by 1991, this was turned on its head, individual was responsible for her/ his problems and focus was directed towards free market. None of the two paradigm changes in policy making were able to tackle basic problems faced by the nation. However, with the actions of state the marginal got further marginalized. Both strategies of development were of western modernity where elite demanded more and more concessions for them and marginalized the poor by making them the residual. The argument followed was that they are the dynamic elements in society and lead to growth. Agriculture with unorganized sector, biggest employer to nation was overlooked as marginal. The problem we are facing today is not of growth but of employment generation- Jobless Growth.
The colonial disruption led to a backward structure of India’s education structure and economy.
Inadequacy of knowledge generation and borrowed knowledge led Indian intellectuals to become derived intellectuals. Leading to inadequacy in relevant knowledge generation resulting in continuing lack of dynamism in society as a whole. A long term and historical perspective is essential in understanding the nation’s dynamic or for judging the successes or failures of its development strategy. Temporary good growth as at present cannot be the yardstick for success.
South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED)-Lecture Series
Date: 16th May 2013
Time: 4.45 pm
Place: Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF), Delhi.
ROLE OF PEOPLE’S KNOWLEDGE IN HEALTH CARE
India, being one of the lowest in the world in public spending on health and highest in private spending, continues to be ranked among the poorest performers of the world in health indicators. Over 35 per cent of people who are hospitalized fall below the poverty line because of the health expenses; and over 40 per cent have to borrow or sell assets to pay for their health care. The role of private sector is rising at an alarming rate, from 8% in 1947 to as high as 93% of all hospitals, 64 per cent of all beds, 80 to 85 per cent doctors, 80 per cent of all outpatients and up to 57 per cent inpatients.
Indian Medical Heritage
Indian Medical Heritage consists of both the codified stream where AYUSH is sophisticatedly practiced and taught through institutional training, and non-codified stream where mostly oral, ethnic community and ecosystem specific local health traditions are practiced all over India. A national health system survey in India in 2009 reported that moderate to very high levels of household’s use of TRM where more than 6200 plant species in use for managing a range of simple to complex conditions in India alone. Several policies like: Alma Ata Declaration (WHO, 1978);National Policy on Indian Systems of Medicine, India – 2002; Five Year Plan Documents, India, 2007 and 2012 etc exists but lack of new recruits and shrinking social and policy legitimacy explains severe erosion of traditional medicine.
Even though there are about one million community- supported traditional health practitioners spread across almost all the villages of India, there are no public health strategies to engage them in delivering primary health care related services at their villages. It is also alarming to note that most of these local health practitioners are aged above 50 years, meaning that there is an emerging threat of losing their precious knowledge which will be a loss of rich indigenous knowledge. India could certainly make a paradigm shift in its approach to the involvement of local health practitioners who are reportedly available in every village of India.
AYUSH Policy Statement 2002, National Rural Health Mission Statement 2005 and Tenth and Eleventh Five Year Plan Documents 2007 and 2012 recommend the mainstreaming and involvement of AYUSH as well as Local Health Practitioners to make health care accessible to everyone.
There is serious need to identify and promote safe and efficacious local health traditions (LHTs) which could be attained by following understated steps:
1. Prioritization of health conditions
2. Identification of LHTs
3. Analysis of repeated documented remedies supported with literature review
4. Rapid assessment of LHTs
For instance, storing drinking water in a copper pot is traditional Knowledge for purification of drinking water, application of turmeric on wound acts as an antiseptic.
Universal health coverage in India is feasible only through recognition and strengthening of our people’s knowledge in healthcare. This requires very little investment in identifying, assessing and promoting their knowledge which does not require any external investment to be mobilized. Community supported traditional health practices need to be recognized as legitimate paramedical AYUSH health workers and trained to provide their services in more effective ways.
South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED)-Lecture Series
Date: 16th May 2013
Place: Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF), Delhi.
TOWARDS A COMPREHENSIVE MANIFESTO FOR PEOPLES’S HEALTH
For a comprehensive approach to people’s health we need to address the various determinants of health as well as issues arising while strengthening health care through long term policy and action.
Health-care, with increasing national and international commercial interest, has become the second largest growing industry after IT. Universal health coverage being the current international slogan, a country is judged by its poor health indicators and coverage by health services and medical insurance. The slogan of universal health coverage, commercial sector interests increasing middle class interest in issues of public health has resulted in greater attention by the state as well. But the escalating cost of health-care, both financial and iatrogenic i.e. doctor granted illness, and actions of state towards it are not promising.
Over the centuries we have seen drastic changes in health problems. Communicable diseases and malnutrition persisted and health problems such as non- communicable diseases at younger ages, increase in injuries (occupational, accidental, homicide, suicide), toxicities due to environmental contamination, addictions, iatrogenic illness and old age problems, etc. increased as an externality of modernization. This health scenario and an increase in dependence on doctors have enhanced the demand for medical services.
Classically, an ideal design of Health Service Systems is expected to be effective, safe, affordable, sustainable, people empowering with the objective of prioritizing maximum good to maximum number. Historically, there has been knowledge system pluralism in India. Societal dialogue across development models has resulted in the present provisioning and financing of health services. The structure consists of public, private and civil society (charitable, NGO, cooperative) institutions with knowledge system pluralism including both AYUSH and Modern Medicine. Strengthening the public services requires addressing issues of:
· health planning and budget provisions,
· Investment in human resources: education and training, postings and transfers
· A public health cadre
· Free medicine for all patients, systems for procurement and distribution.
The system of colonial hangover with dominance of modern science and medicine as well as commercial interest in modern medicine led to undemocratic pluralism in relation to AYUSH. There are various debates running in Civil Society (Medico friend circle, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Kolkata Declaration), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (NRHM), Planning Commission, Global Health Forum, etc., related to universal health care service systems and design. Following are the frameworks reflected in debates:
· Private Sector Bio-Medical Curative frameworks: This model runs on free market logic. State and private insurance is considered to be third party.
· Statist Public Health Framework where state is responsible for full provisioning and financing with PPP (Public Private Partnership) as a concession to the reality of their existence.
The existing framework is mixture of two above stated frameworks. The aim has to be to extract the best from both the systems and form a unique system. Both the systems have components of various knowledge systems, reliance on STGs (short term goals), audits, monitoring to ensure rational practice and peoples movement as a possible moderating force.
Impact of people’s movements on health systems led to: Frontiers of Modern Medical Practice changing paradigm that limits Intervention, promotes self care, patient involvement in decision-making, greater role of psychosomatic etiologies finding from studies and revitalizing primary health care. Questions regarding choice of Stream of International Health trends, of framework conducive for people’s health have risen. The broad points of agreement emerging from the debate and dialogue are:
· Public funding with public and private provisioning.
· Structure of services designed for cost effective and rational services, with quality and equity.
· Rational care to contain costs and iatrognesis.
Another important aspect to health-care system is closer availability to the patient, hence starting from home, each level provides as much care as it can and is supported by the next level. So, unnecessary services move to GP, GP to HWs and to self-care. It is important to design structure of services which are cost- effective and rational and also serves purpose of quality and equity: Community centered public services plus civil society provisioning; monitoring is the available solution that includes knowledge system democratic and integrative pluralism. The move towards integrating institutional structures, formalizing cross referral and interaction across pathies; for instance AYUSH education generating confidence in AYUSH and LHTs, its revitalization by growing herbal gardens in the sub-centre and PHC compound, focus and promotion of National University for Pluralistic Sciences- with one college for each recognized pathy, 1 institution for local health traditions, one for integrated medicine etc.
We live in a country where one in every four persons goes to bed hungry. Health problems in India need to be treated at very grass root level provision of basic minimum needs like roti, kapda and makaan to every individual though employment generation which provide them self esteem and dignity. Access to clean drinking water, better sanitation conditions, balance between physical work, food and leisure and emotional and social wellbeing through community structures and dignity enhancing societal conditions can take care of 50% of diseases due to unhygienic environment, hypertension etc.
Hence there is a need for: Health Impact Assessment of all development plans. Further, social and economic development planning needs to be centered on people’s health and well-being. Only a new policy milieu of social solidarity and caring is the solution.
SADED's Journey-Deepening the Understanding of ‘Ecological Democracy': Strivings to make it part of Common Sense 2017
Deepening the Understanding of ‘Ecological Democracy':
Strivings to make it part of Common Sense
All of us live with nature and relate to it in our everyday lives. Our daily life patterns and annual cycles, our greetings referring to the weather, our leisure time activities, all reveal the cultural assimilation of this relationship. Yet, in our imagination of development and in its operationalisation, we ignored its significance for decades so that now, large sections of the urban middle class do not consciously relate to nature and take it into consideration while making decisions either for themselves or for society at large. This is the section that is most articulate on public issues and from which our policy makers, politicians and powerful sections tend to come, thereby influencing larger public perception. SADED was conceived of in 2002-03 in order to address this gap in Indian, and South Asian, public discourse including in political and policy spheres. SADED's attempt over the past years has been to bring the relationship of human beings with nature centre-stage in public discourse, and therefore use of the term ‘Ecological Democracy'. While ‘Comprehensive Democracy' (Pratap et al, 2001) has been the overall framework with which we work, the ecological dimension is foregrounded in order to fill the gap in public discourse. since political democracy, social justice and material equity have been major thrust of public policy debates and contestations for long, ecology related issues were relatively new introduction to public discourse in the region.
It is gratifying that the concept is gaining currency, mostly in the civil society and engaged-academic world. Ecological democracy and ecological justice are increasingly heard in discussions, and in some writings (Agarwal, 2010; Shrivastava and Kothari, 2012). Radical Ecological Democracy has been formally defined and proposed as the path forward in a well received book by Aseem Shrivastava and Ashish Kothari titled the ‘Churning the Earth: the Making of Global India'. Discussions by the Siemenpuu Foundation on ED have been referred to by environmental movement scholars (Sneddon and Fox, 2008). We have so far addressed the activist communities and, as their critical mass develops, we hope to device strategies of addressing the lay community and making Ed part of common parlance as well.
However, the term ‘Ecological Democracy' can be interpreted in multiple ways and hold different meanings. It can be found in literature at least since the late 1990s, having been used in relation to the term then gaining currency, ‘sustainability', or on how states can espouse both liberal democratic structures and ecological policies. Most of the literature on ED since then has attempted to define how a nation state could be characterised as ‘an ecological democracy' as against let's say ‘a liberal democracy' (Dietz, York and Rosa, 2001; Mitchell, 2006; Whiteside and Bourg, 2006). “While few scholars provide an explicit definition of ecological democracy, the concept (or some variant) has been employed to illustrate the means by which rapid ecological and environmental change pose significant problems for existing democratic structures, and to prescribe alternative decision-making processes that are more conducive to ensuring ecological well-being” (Mitchell, 2006). By and large, this was a state-centric view of ED. It relates to the political and economic structures and policies that impact on the environment, but does not spell out the social and cultural aspects underlying the human relationship with nature.
The literature also acknowledges the need for further refining of the concept of ED, but somehow, the term has not got much attention relative to the rise of ‘sustainability'as a concept (Mitchell, 2006). Countries sushi as Ecuador and Bolivia have addressed the rights of nature in their constitutions and therey may qualify to be termed ‘ecologicla democracies' in a sense. However, given the contingencies of statecraft and prevailing political economy, the economic policies even in these countries continue to go counter t the requirements of sustaining natural environments. Thus the state-centric view of Ed is found to be inadequate, but only diverse forms it have been proposed in this literature.
Sustainability as it is now used, does not always communicate the central ideas of either ecology, democracy or equity. Sustainability, in dominant discourse, has become more about ‘economic growth with equity'i.e. more consumption for all, and ‘green technologies'i.e. techno-managerial solutions that limit the environmental impact of increasing consumption.
On the other hand, in the VK articulation of ‘Comprehensive Democracy', we viewed ED as one dimension of a democratic ‘way of life', the other dimensions being ‘political democracy', social democracy', ‘economic democracy' and ‘cultural democracy' (Pratap et al, 2001). The limitations of our paradigms for structuring society and its progressive urges, that were created in the late 19 th and the 20 th century, the ideologies and traditions like Marxism have run their course in their traditional form. Now a days there is a global search for re-imagining and expanding the notion of democracy to all dimensions of life and not just the separation of organs of state and periodic elections and an independent judiciary. This is just political democracy. Different sections of people are fighting for their rights and hence are seeking different types of democracy. Like Dalits are seeking social democracy to have an equal status as to the Brahmins. Tribals for their rights are seeking cultural democracy. Similarly people are seeking economic democracy so that everybody gets a dignified livelihood engagement. So the first global requirement is that we have to re-imagine and expand the notion of democracy in such a way that it approximates the idea of life, flow of life and all its dimensions, i.e. at all levels of society, form the village to the global, should be democratic.An instance of anti-democratic developments is that thetransnational corporations are becoming stakeholders in organisations like WHO and ILO. This trend has to be completely reversed. There is no other way out. This will only happen through a global shared understanding. We need to have intermittent global face to face global meets. WSF was a most creative innovation of such meets. It was seeking to destroy the high priest image of the academics and activists and making them equal to others in society by destroying the activist and ordinary people divide. It was seeking to approximate change actors and processes to the society and the society ' s aspiration to transform itself to a better future. But that idea has unfortunately run its course for a complex set of reasons. One of them is that our progressive ideologies could not renew themselves and the popular imaginations and promises they made to the people in Latin America were not able to be upheld. So the conspiracies of the right succeeded in Latin America, Brazil and other places. WSF was born out of the larger upheaval of institutionalized authoritarianism backed by the US in South America. But it played a big role in bringing in the progressive regimes in place. Now the limitations of the progressive ideologies has come to the fore, and we need to reimagine our democracy in a manner that societies liberative urges transform the society as a whole rather than making it a stagnant society. So a paradigm shift in the transformative politics is in the offing.
In the VK formulation of comprehensive democracy, all dimensions are integrally bound and were separately considered only for the ease of analysis and understanding. All dimensions would have to contribute towards all the others so that each of them would have to address issues of ED, just as Ed would have to incorporate each of the others. For instance, agriculture for food production impinges on the earth and generates a specific human-nature relationship. Therefore, under the rubric of ED it must be undertaken in ways that are least disruptive and most restorative of soil and water. As economic democracy, there must also be a just distribution of the resources of land and water that are needed for agriculture. Gender relationships in the division of labor and its recognition in agriculture would contribute to social democracy. State policies and schemes that create such conditions would require political democracy. Given the dynamicity of society and nature, all these together would require ongoing processes of democratic dialogue and decision making that can handle the power equations in each sphere and choose trade-offs between competing priorities that would have to be negotiated. In order to undo the limitations of ‘dialogue', non-violent individual and collective assertions (satyagrah) are an integral part of democracy.
From this perspective then, ED can primarily be viewed as a way of life that rests on a just relationship of human beings with nature. If the emphasis is on ‘democracy' we could also see it as an arrangement that supports ecological justice, i.e.e equal access of all human beings to rights over natural resources, and equal distribution of impacts of environmental degradation. However, either of these alone is very simplistic and does not adequately address the ground realities of real life contexts that include unbridled rising aspirations for consumption of ‘relative' as against ‘basic' needs, the implications of this for resources drawn from nature and the degradation of nature, and the complex politics of overcoming inequalities in situations of historical deprivations. If we see that neither the emphasis on the ‘ecological' nor on ‘democracy' is complete without the other and attempt to include both in our definition, we open ourselves to the complex task of ‘deepening' the understanding of ED and how human civilisation, and nation states within it in their present form, can work towards achieving it. This is the challenge SADED set up for itself.
The closest definition of ED to this understanding found in other writings is the following:
“An ecological democracy seeks a dynamic balance between the ecosphere and humanity, and between and among humans. An ecological democracy pursues sustainability in all aspects of life. It constitutes not merely a political form, but a way, with many potential expressions and manifestations……In an ecological democracy, sustainability is not merely a biological process, but a social force for healing humanity's excesses. Sustainability must be the guide for dynamic interactions between humans and ecosphere, and the political, economic and social interactions among humans. In particular, this means economic growth results in ecological improvement, not ecological destruction” (Morrison and Morrison, 2011).
Over the decades SADED's work has been able to bring focus to the links between the various sectors of development relating to environmental issues, such as the dependence of livelihoods of the marginalised majorities on nature, the intimate relationship of adivasis and their way of life with nature, the disruption of these through dominant developmental interventions and the attempts to conserve or restore these through civil society and social movements. It has, also brought a greater understanding of the ground level issues and links of environment, food security, health and health care into the ED discussions. Thereby it has contributed to the popularisation of more comprehensive understandings of the role of nature and of addressing environmental concerns through social and political actions by state and non-state actors. It has done this through various processes of dialogue across sectors and actors, through development of and participation in relevant networks, and engaging in public debate and discussion at local, national and international levels.
Ecological Democracy and the SDGs
It is in this context that we see the current adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the global agenda for the coming decades as an opportunity to generate and bring greater attention to dialogues around issues related to ED. Since the SDGS stand on the three pillars of environmental integrity, social justice and economic prosperity, they potentially approximate the idea of Comprehensive Democracy. However, the SDGs, as articulated in the official statement and in its dominant operationalisation, are not being viewed adequately for their links with political and cultural dimensions. We believe that without contextualising the SDGs in the specific situation of each society from global to local levels, and without integrally addressing the various environmental social, economic, contexts together with their cultural and political dimensions, these goals can not be attempted. Therefore, we contend that ED will be helpful in understanding the pathways to Sustainable Development and to moving towards the SDGs. We therefore propose to use our work in the next phase to contextualising the SDGs in India and other South Asian countries.
Ecological Swaraaj : a concept beyond Ecological Democracy
In our engagement with strivings on the ground for ED, we have deepened our own understanding of what goes into the making of ED. The challenges of making these links part of social ‘common sense' and thereby incorporated consciously into people's lives and into state policies and programmes have become more evident. We recognise that this requires a different collective ethical and moral vision. Over the years, we have moved from using the concept ‘ED' to Ecological Swaraaj', with ‘swaraaj' reflecting the sense that Gandhiji gave it in the anti-colonial struggle. As we understand it, the term ES expresses the deeper human strivings better than does ED. In ES, the individual and the collective human spirit are closely intertwined. It includes the community and the state as ever-enlarging concentric circles of relationships and action. Thus it is not state-centric even while it incorporates the role of the state in its societal vision. It includes the moral dimension as individual conscience and spirituality as well as collective ethics and norms. Its approach is to contribute to empowering all peoples to practice ED with dignity.
It is with this deepening understanding that SADED initiated its work on ‘Meaning of Life and Meaningful Life' and developed strands of Health Swaraaj. In this move, besides concentrating on the subjects directly related to natural environments (such as agriculture, water, issues of adivasis, rights of informal sector workers that constitute 90% of workers in India and other south Asian countries, developmental and social issues of the Himalayas) we seek to understand the human urges and resources of knowledge and practice that can support democratic relationships with nature and between human beings. We also attempt to explore the informal and institutionalised resources of knowledge and practice that can be of help.
The Meaning of Life, Meaningful Life series of lectures called upon leading persons of the ‘alternatives' among civil society, social movements and political leadership to reflect on inner human strivings and their relationship with nature and the human collective. The series has been very well received by members of our network and its larger ecology. The lectures have provided intellectual and spiritual resources for ED activists to continue to address the very great challenges that they face, especially the frustrations inherent in such work. They have opened up areas of discussion in civili society that were almost taboo in secular discourse, such as the spiritual dimension of life, and the role of religions in furthering ED/ES. In the future we propose to continue the series as and when appropriate speakers become available.
Traditional Societal Institutions and their Potential Role in Deepening ED/ES
In the next phase we also propose to explore the possibility of institutionalised forms of spiritual mooring and knowledge generation, specifically religion and the various health knowledge systems, for their contribution to further deepening the understanding as well as spread of acceptability of the concepts of ED/ES.
The recent encyclical of the Pope, that re-examines the interpretation of the catholic church of the earth being created for human beings and places human beings in the midst of nature such that they are a part of it and responsible for it, is a valuable resource for dialogue on ED through institutionalised religion that influences large numbers across the globe. We plan to use it as the basis for dialogue with leaders of all religions in our region to make their statements on how they view the relationship between human beings and nature. Fro this we plan to have a platform for inter-faith dialogue called the ‘Dharm Jigyasu Manch' (Inter-Faith Forum for Critical Dialogue).
Traditional health knowledge systems also have a whole philosophy of human life and its relationship with nature and with different elements of society, that affect each ones physical, mental and spiritual state. We hope to engage more with these knowledge systems to understand how they can help in deepening the understanding of ED/ES.
The proposed activities under each of these that we propose for the coming two years are given in detail in the application and the annexed log frame.
Hony. Convenor SADED
RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT
Exploring the Concept Of Internal Colonisation
~ Sachchidanand Sinha*
Edited By: Daya Lalvani
Originally, the idea of ‘internal colony’ was an extrapolation of the idea that empires and colonies created the pre-condition for the development and expansion of the capitalist system in Europe, based on new industries. The assertion - that imperialism was not the last phase of capitalism, as propounded by Lenin, but was the pre-condition for the development and expansion of the capitalist system in Europe – was made by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia. In the context of India, important national leaders such as Dadabhai Naoroji had earlier held the view that the prosperity of Great Britain, to a great extent, was based on the draining of the wealth of India. The expansion of European powers in India, South East Asia and the Americas, so closely antedate the industrial revolution in England and other European nations, and the nature of the economic relation between them so clearly show the nexus between imperialism and the rise of capitalism, that this view is accepted almost universally.
Holding on to this view, Dr. Lohia almost dismissed the idea that India could develop its economy on the lines of Western Europe. The capital base in India was so meagre that the development on the basis of large-scale industries could have little prospect in India. Perhaps this pessimism, besides certain negative features of large-scale industries, induced Lohia to propose industrialization with ‘small machine technology run by diesel and electricity’.
Notwithstanding this pessimism, though on a very small scale, the growth of modern heavy industries was already visible in certain parts of India. Around certain port cities, such as Calcutta (Kolkata), Madras (Chennai) and Bombay (Mumbai) where the British had initially made their toe-hold, some modern heavy industries were being developed. In the mid-nineteenth century, railways began to be developed starting from Bombay. Not only was cotton textile industry with new technology growing around Bombay, and jute industry around Calcutta, but also many industries of metallurgy were developing around the port cities. But what was common to all this development was its reliance for minerals, raw materials and cheap labour in areas deep inside the country, spread in far-flung areas of Jharkhand (earlier in Bihar), Madhya Pradesh, Orissa (Odisha), Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Andhra, Karnataka, etc. The relation between the industrial centres - i.e., of Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, etc., and the far-flung areas from which they derived minerals, agricultural raw materials and cheap labour was almost identical with the relation that had existed in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries between Britain, France, Germany, etc., with their colonies in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Just as the imperial powers had used indentured labourers from India to develop farms and mines in South Africa, Guiana and Mauritius, in the same way they transported tribals from the villages of Jharkhand to settle them in tea gardens of Bengal and Assam. The low paid workers in the textile mills of Calcutta, Bombay, etc., too came from all the four corners of India, mainly from the poverty-stricken areas of Bihar, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Andhra, Satara and Konkan in Maharashtra. The pattern was the same. Only the transfer of manpower and resources was taking place within the nation itself. Hence, the idea of empires without conquest. The internal colonial relation appears as a replica of the imperial relation predating the industrial revolution in Europe.
To avoid transportation of raw materials involving huge bulk, sugar factories started getting set up in areas where sugarcane was grown - Bihar was among the earliest sugar producing areas. Similarly, textile mills came up in Nagpur in Vidarbha, and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, both areas of cotton farming. Certain areas like Kanpur were also developed, being areas surrounded by sources of some raw materials. But the main industrial hubs were the coastal areas where the British had made their early foot-hold such as Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. Consideration of economy in transportation made them to develop centres for the manufacture of indigo and saltpetre in remote areas of Bihar. To promote this interest, they forced the peasants of Champaran to plant indigo on nearly one-sixth of their total cultivated area. It was this forced cultivation, which in the early twentieth century, brought Mahatma Gandhi to Champaran in Bihar.
With the transfer of the capital of British India from Calcutta to Delhi in 1912, there developed a new industrial hub around Delhi. Being the capital of the country, it soon got connected with the rest of the country through modern transportation network – comprising roads and railways. It also developed other infrastructure - such as water supply, electricity, inner transport and shopping complexes. As the capital of the country, it naturally brought in a large body of men connected with administration, and military and police personnel. Thus there arose a big market, which attracted a great deal of manufacturing activities in and around Delhi; stretching to large areas of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Economically, a few centres, such as Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and lately Delhi, stood in the same relation to the far-flung areas of the country, such as Bihar, as the imperial centres of Europe stood in relation to the empires and colonies that had developed in North and South America, Asia and Africa.
These burgeoning industrial centres offered jobs on a vast scale, partly in new industries and administrative services, and on a larger scale in lower paid jobs in construction and carriages. Naturally, capital got attracted to these areas and states like Bihar remained starved of capital and industrial development. This is a scenario, which replicates the scenario of early industrialization on a world scale, where, countries like Britain, Germany, France, etc., in Europe got completely transformed during the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, while most of the colonial and subjugated nations experienced pauperization, resulting in chronic malnutrition and occasional famines. This could easily be seen today in the unequal development in various regions of the country. While Bombay, which is the capital of Maharashtra, is among the most affluent urban centres of the country - with a highly modernized industrial sector in Vidarbha, which is also a part of Maharashtra, farmers have been committing suicide regularly owing to poverty and indebtedness. This also partly reflects the unequal relation between agriculture and industry. This whole relationship could be termed as a system of internal colonialism. Bihar (which at the time when the book The Internal Colony was written also included Jharkhand) was a typical example of an ‘internal colony’, which was sought to be highlighted in the book.
That the imperial domination of the world - with total control over the natural resources of the subject countries was the essential condition for the spectacular growth of industries in Western Europe and the USA, is clearly indicated by certain recent developments. All the major industrial nations of Europe and the USA are now experiencing sharp decline in their rates of growth. There is stagnation and also inflation, the persistence of which appears puzzling. But this could be easily explained by a consideration of the shrinking of the area of original domination by the old industrialized nations. Interestingly, contrasted with the decline in the old industrial nations, some of the nations, which had earlier been under western domination, have experienced spurt in their annual rates of growth. Among these are India, China, Brazil and South Africa. Incidentally, these are the nations comprising the new conglomerate known as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). China in some years registered an annual GDP growth of up to twelve percent. Even India aspired to an annual growth rate of ten percent. Most of the major auto manufactures and engineering firms belonging to the USA, Japan and Europe have set up their industries in India and China.
It has to be noted that each of the nations in the new alignment BRICS, have an internal colony, i.e., backward areas with cheap labour and abundant raw materials. Except for Russia, each of them had been, in the past, under the domination of the western powers. Though Russia never came under the domination of another European power, it had all the time a vast internal colony. The Bolsheviks, who came to power in 1917, had made a promise to give all the nationalities under its domination, the right to secede. Though some have seceded since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a vast area (larger than any empire ever held by a country), with abundant natural resources, including natural gas, oil and coal, is still held by it. Brazil has the largest tropical forest cover in the world, an abundance of agricultural land and large unexplored areas with potentiality of mineral resources. South Africa had always been a land of ample natural resources, which till recently had been an internal colony of the white settlers, but now is under a black majority, since the end of apartheid. China had always been a great imperial power, except for a short interlude of European domination. It has vast deposits of coal and several other minerals essential for many modern industries. Together with its cheap and abundant manpower, it has emerged as the largest industrial economy after the United States. But typically, its areas of prosperity are again comparatively small and confined to areas around some major coastal cities and Beijing. All these point to a shift of economic power from external colonialism to internal colonialism.
Since the motive force of a capitalist economy is to keep on expanding production and sales, sooner or later it has to come up against a paucity of markets, reflected earlier in depressions, since there is always a gap between the bulk of goods produced and the purchasing power. History is full of attempts, temporarily to get over this problem since the nineteenth century. But a more serious problem is that production involves natural resources such as coal, oil or natural gas, various kinds of minerals and forest and agricultural products. Earth has only limited stocks of the ability to produce many of these raw materials. So sooner or later the productive process must slow down and ultimately come to a halt. The old imperialist powers had been facing the latter kind of constraints as the era of imperial domination was coming to an end since the middle of the twentieth century. That was the time when the newly liberated large economies had their heyday, reflected in their comparatively high growth rates. The slowing down of the growth rates in India and China recently may be an indication that the era of abundant natural resources and also cheap labour in them, too may be coming to an end.
Already both India and China have been trying to acquire new sources of supply in those countries which had earlier been dominated by the western powers, especially in Africa. In 2011 Fertilizer Association of India had urged the Government of India to create a ‘Sovereign Wealth Fund’ to acquire mineral assets abroad (The Hindu, December 14, 2011). India also joined hands with America along with Brazil at the World Trade Organization in July 2011 to force China to abandon its policy of restricting export of certain raw materials essential for steel, aluminium and chemical industries (The Hindu, Kolkata; February 1, 2012). All these point to the ultimate limits of growth which a nation aspiring to high levels of industrialization cannot ignore.
The so-called modern industrial growth does not create new basic assets which could become a source of real durable wealth. It merely changes their nature – with its slow process of growth and change, with its green cover – into consumable assets where the natural processes of growth and decay come to a dead end. Since nature’s bounties – mineral bearing rocks, the natural forests, the rivers, the streams and the waterfalls are not unlimited or perpetual – owing to transformation brought about by new human industry, and damage done to them – they must get exhausted. The ecological disaster that we are facing today is a warning that we are nearing a dead end. While thinking of development of a nation or a state in the present era, we cannot overlook this overarching scenario.
Though the division of Bihar, with almost the whole of the mineral bearing areas and most of the forested areas going to Jharkhand, has been bemoaned by many, in the new ecological perspective it may actually appear a good riddance. It forces on Bihar a new regimen, which could make it more healthy and self-reliant. Bihar has ample resources for a healthy development, if only it stops wailing and carping and gets ready to raise itself by its boot-straps as an economically autonomous region, with only minimal and essential exchanges with other regions.
Having one of the most fertile lands in the world, and ample sources of water supply, it could have not only surplus of food grains and fruits of various kinds, but also be a source of fishery and dairy products on a vast scale. Even at its dismal state of production, Bihar has been selling milk products to Delhi and other states. It can also revive its cotton and silk industry, which once were its pride. For this it will have to revive its sericulture and handloom industry. Bihar was once the leading producer of sugar in the country; there is no reason why it could not become a major sugar producer again. The land and the human resources are there. For traction, it will have to shift to traditional bullocks carts and bullock drawn ploughs, which in any case will become cheaper and cheaper compared to the diesel driven tractors and trucks which will become even more costly as the sources of fossil fuel get scarcer. For other sources of energy, Bihar will have to depend on biomass, wind and solar power. For this, their direct use would be preferred to their conversion to electric power and its expensive transmission and re-conversion to motive power. In this line of development, its meagre urbanization, which has been counted as a weakness, will prove to be an asset, as villages and clusters of villages develop towards a clean, healthy and self-sustaining co-operative economy. In a world teetering on the edge of ecological disaster, Bihar, if it develops in the direction of a low energy, self-sustaining economic growth, may become an example to others in India and the world.
Since the sixth century B.C. to almost the eighth century, India was equated with Bihar. From the Nanda to Maurya, Gupta and Pala period, it had been the centre of political power and hub of learning when Nalanda and Vikramashila attracted students from all over the world. With its self-sustaining green economy, it may again become a world leader. Only through this path-breaking new line of development will Bihar have any future and could become a role model for the rest of the country and the world. But all this calls for a non-capitalist mode of development, because the capitalist system is sustained by a limitless escalation of consumption and consequently by a drive to grab everything in the biosphere and underneath the earth’s surface, to meet its unappeasable appetite. The land of Buddha and Ashoka, and lately of Gandhi, has to find a new path for itself and others.
* * * *
* Sachchidanand Sinha is based in Bihar. He is a prolific writer, socialist thinker and major author of books on socialism. He is associated with the socialist movement and JP movement.
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