April 16, 2006

Narmada Bachao Andolan

Amir Khan, is now with Medha Patkar for the Narmada Bachao Andolan(NBA). I'm quite sure, he can still take a few lessons regarding screen presence, for she certainly is the queen. Twenty years is a long time.

Before I begin, I would like to state that I'm not an ardent fan of Patkar's games on the telly. She can do enough of them if they gave her a channel of her own. But the point remains, is the objective correct? I readily disagree with some of the methods or the means but I would stand for her if I knew she had the right intentions. So I've decided to take a look at a few linked articles on the issue, which had the privilege of being on desipundit today.

The first one is from India Awake. (link)

It is really a pity that Aamir Khan, generally considered to be a sensible person, got carried away by the false propaganda of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Medha Patkar and her cronies have been assiduously following the Goebbelian principle of telling lies long enough to make people accept it as truth.

They have organized a one sided debate referring to two posts against NBA(will come back to these two) and supreme court directives(There is no Anti-Supreme court, so we can't have the other side). Unluckily he fails to show anything which is pro-NBA. He sums it up thus:
The issue is whether a handful of objectors with their own unclear motivations can stop the progress of the country itself.

As I had mentioned earlier, India Awake had referenced two posts. The first one is by Lok-adhikar, which can be found here.(link)
It is a pity that those who feel that Medha Patkar and her ilk have a just cause and a right to blackmail the Central and State Governments into changing their decisions, are either not fully aware or ignore the background of the entire issue.

This made me think that this site would have something concrete to offer. He does indeed give an illuminating background on the subject, but rather fails later when he only accuses NBA of using wrong methods to attract attention, and states court rulings and procedures as evidence. The comments too, are all against-NBA, except a neutral one by AshishG

The second link by Siddhartha Shome, can be found here. (link)
His post is definitely the most informative, creating and answering questions in a logical manner. He accuses Medha Patkar of this amongst other things:
Around 1989, Medha Patkar and the NBA decided to take an extreme ideological view that large infrastructure projects are inherently and irredeemably bad. Since then, the NBA has argued that rural people are best left as they are, and that adivasis are best suited to a subsistence-level existence "“in harmony with nature"”

He also brings to the front, another organizationon Action Research in Community Health and Development (ARCH) Vahini, which has played a vital role in the resettlement and rehabilitation in the area. Other than that he answers some important questions.

But I still fail to agree with him, (not because of a blood relation with Medha Patkar) but because when he answers the question if the resettlement and rehabilitation is going as expected or is troubled due to corruption, he states
There is some truth to this, but it is far from being the complete truth. As has been documented by the Center for Social Studies Surat, despite hiccups, R&R has generally been carried out successfully in Gujarat.

A little earlier he had said that
Four villages (three in Gujarat and one in MP) will be fully submerged.
241 villages would be partially affected, (16 in Gujarat, 33 in Maharashtra and 192 in MP)

Now what does simple arithmetic show us? That R&R has been successful in the 19 villages in gujrat out of the 245. Which is about 7.7%. Hmmm.. Not quite reassuring.
But I still maintain, I really loved the way he's written the post. (You should have this guy in bloglines.)

Since I still don't find myself convinced that NBA is for the wrong cause, I had a chat with one of my friends who has actually been to one of the affected villages. (She is doing her Masters in Social Work from TISS). She states quite emotionally
The rehabilitation process isn't going on the right lines. The struggle has been on for a long time but only the well connected have been able to get 're-settled' properly. For the poor, R&R is still a synonym for running to government offices.

Standard Indian working procedures, you might say. Most of the villagers might get away fine, but for the ones who don't, it's a hard world mate. I know, because I have the privilege of sitting here at home on a sunday evening in front of my computer.

: Here is a beautiful paralell. The government decides to increase reservation and a million blogs cry foul. That is because the urban population gets affected. But how would the voice of the villagers reach our ears. A full stop.. no a question mark?

UPDATE: Do read this too before you make your conclusions.