It is “not Modism but Gandhism” which holds out the hope of inclusive development in the country, social activist and national convener of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, Medha Patkar, has said.
Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Indian Social Institute here on Friday, she said that “a few lines in a speech or manifesto” cannot undo the damage of a model of development that “not only excludes but destroys” people who protect the environment like their “dharohar” (heritage).
Ms. Patkar said that the likes of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and “the new phenomenon” BJP prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi were pushing a non-inclusive mode of development without the Constitutional vision of equity and justice.
Ms. Patkar described this non-inclusive model of development as a “new kind of Brahminism” where there is exclusion without the obvious practise of untouchability. She said that it was a “trick and tragedy” that hundreds of migrant workers who do not demand their basic rights are exploited across sectors for all kinds of work – from “mining to building mega cities” – but not even provided minimum social and economic security. She described this model of development, which excludes the large majority of people from the process of planning, managing and distribution of resources, as a “heinous crime” that involves a “deliberate manipulation of resources” in favour of less than four percent of the population.
Referring to big infrastructure and power projects, Ms. Patkar said that the 35 proposed power projects in the Western Ghats range or the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project do serious environmental damage and dispossess thousands of farmers. The industrial corridor promoted among others by Mr. Modi had resulted in agricultural land of thousands being lost overnight by manipulation of land documents, added Ms. Patkar.