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The Resource Curse…

Ghana-mine

In economic sphere it is often understood that a territory endowed with natural resources is endowed with wealth for prosperity and development. This often stands true and make us believe the same when we look western nations on how they had prospered on these resources over time. But in India, for few of the states reality is entirely different. Here exists a close link between endowment of natural resources and prevalence of poverty and under-development. Stark example in India are states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. These are richest states of the country in reserves of natural mineral resources but there is contrast with poverty existing in these states.   They also are poorest states of the country. One more thing common to them are the left wing extremism – The Naxalites.

Richness of natural resources is thriving many mining industries in these territories but it is also displacing people. Minerals are being excavated just to sell for utilisation in other parts of the country and developing them leaving land of extraction polluted and devastated. These states has just been raw material supplier for the western states of the country which drives the economy of India. But this cycle couldn’t alleviate poverty from the states satisfactorily. As Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are newly created state and data of poverty since Independence couldn’t be collected, but Odisha doesn’t show a rosy picture of poverty reduction rate either.

On getting into this problem we find a correlation between mining of resources from these states, sustenance poverty level of people in these states and presence of Naxalite activities.

Decision makers still believes that only development will resolve naxalite issues in these states and there exists lobbying for opening of new mines and mining operations under the facets of developing the state. My just one question who are with this opinion that new mining operations  will develop the state is— “Since independence, where we digging the earth in these states to make terraces for space for evening game and entertainment of displaced tribals and sight seeing of anthropologically transformed landscape?” If we were on the path of development, how could then naxalites came alive. Is not something wrong with this development model? Displacing people from their land and rarely rehabilitating them makes them vulnerable to the forces of the economy and rarely they are enough capable to survive on their own skill sets. They have skills to survive in tribal living system highly entrenched with forest resources and not with developed world. Behind the phrase “larger public interest” we are bereaving them of their land, culture, community living, forest, natural ecosystem and their livelihood. Our perception that they are under/un-developed is misaligned and need to be corrected. In this tech-savvy world only real example to prove my words is the aboriginal tribes of Andaman & Nicobar Island; they are very much happy of what they are, how they live and survive. They didn’t need any sort of development, they have their own system of naturopathy and medicines. And I think similar would had been the situation with tribes of inland mineral rich territory of India until invaders invaded over them for resources. But, our quest and race for development and mineral resources devastated tribal system as a whole. Now they have no option other than to get integrated in alien lifestyle of diku, the term they use for outsiders

The natural resources which is thought to be endowment to mankind has actually become a curse to many, bereft of their rights they are just being enslaved as daily wage labourers in economy of today. Hadn’t mineral deposits found beneath their land, they would had lived happily in their forest dwelling woven in their community lifestyle and preserved their rich culture heritage. Now they have no identity and to restore their identity they fall to the ideology of naxalism; and only biased development has to be cursed for it.

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