Monday, April 17, 2006

Medha Patkar

During the initial stages of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, initiated almost exclusively by Medha Patkar, i doubted her sincerity in the matter, and thought she was another person into create problems for the government of the day and take the tribals and villagers to be displaced by the new Narmada dam, for a ride. Its been a long fight for her.

I dont completely agree with her. I believe that India still needs dams big and small to help with power generation and irrigation. The country even after all the advancements in nuclear science and space research, we are still very dependent on monsoon for agriculture. It all good and dandy to say that we are one of the fastest developing countries in the world, and another thing to last out a couple of years of bad monsoon. Agriculture development and production still plays a big role in the direction in which the country will progress, cause it still is about 40-50% of the GDP. It has come down from the time i used to study economics, when it was around 70%.

Medha Patkar has a point. Development cannot come at the cost of lives of people. People are not dying, because of this dam. But the dam is surely eliminating the way of life as they once lead. Again, its not like they are being reduced to a life of poverty, but they are being reduced to a life of dependency. At first they were depending on the land, but it was their own. Now they have lost their land have to depend on some other form of livelihood.

Finally the Supreme Court has spoken. It has granted the Prime Minister the power to negotiate. I hope that the PM is able to offer these people a good deal. And for the sake of all, i hope Medha Patkar gives up the effort after that.

Medha Patkar ends fast

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