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Mainstream, VOL L, No 40, September 22, 2012

Corporate Loot behind “Developmentalism”

Friday 28 September 2012

BOOK REVIEW

by BISHWAJIT SEN

Beyond Developmentalism, A Collection of Critical Essays edited by Nilanjan Dutta; Shreya Publication, Kolkata; Price: Rs 300.

This work was long overdue (Beyond Developmentalism). The forces fighting “developmentalism” lacked a proper language. During struggles against the land acquisition programmes in Singur and Nandigram, the activists’ anger was reflected in a few hastily written handbills and the same was the situation during the anti-POSCO struggle as well. What was needed was a theorisation, easily compre-hensible to the masses, so that a pattern of aggression and resistance emerges out of the whole confusion. Beyond Developmentalism fulfils that purpose.

There are eleven write-ups in this collection. The authors are known opponents of the “deve-lopmental” agenda and we have come across their writings in several radical journals. They have discussed “developmentalism” from different angles and made in-depth studies of its effects in various fields. Their conclusion has aptly been summarised in Amit Bhadari’s article: “It is high time we call the bluff”. “Developmentalism” is the greatest fraud perpetrated on the Indian masses since independence. It is an unmitigated disaster in the field of economic planning and principles.

“D for Dole: Education and the Delusions of Development” by Sandip Bandopaddhaya is one of the most readable articles of this collection. It brings out in detail the incredible naiveté of the education policy-makers, who thought that a garden of knowledge could emerge out of a dish of shabbily cooked “Midday Meal”. What emerged, however, was a garden of corruptions. “Midday Meal” was hardly an incentive to lure back children evading schools. The socio-economic reasons perpetuating the same should have been studied properly (which was never done) and removed.

Those who relentlessly beat the drum of worker’s rights in our “socialistic” and democratic republic should read Naba Dutta’s article: “Labour Lost? Assault on Workers’ Rights in a Left-ruled State”. The article describes, in a brutally frank manner, the helplessness of the working class in face of capitalist onslaughts. The example of the Alumunium Manufacturing Company is an eye-opener. There are several such companies, where the workers have been made to lick the dust because of gaping holes in the laws relating to labour rights. The “brilliant” legal minds do often and easily turn them into useless scraps of paper.

“Developmentalism” is a part of the World Bank-IMF agenda, which views things through the glass of GDP and GNP alone. GDP and GNP can be given booster by dubious means, but ultimately, it is the people’s economic condition which would tell the real story. How is it that the people starve, while the GDP and GNP continue to scale greater and still greater heights? The story of the profit-oriented economy is the same everywhere, in every age. That is why the rush for profit-oriented “developmentalism” should be curbed and instead of “development”, re-structuring” should be the watchword which pays more attention to the physical as well as spiritual needs of the people. The concept has been elaborated by Nilanjan Dutta in his article “Towards an Anti-development Manifesto” which is placed at the end of the book.

There are several articles in this collection which need to be given serious attention, such as (1) “Chemical Hub at Nayachar: Some Argumentative Issues of Concern” by Kalyan Rudra, (2) “Grameen and Microcredit—A Tale of Corporate Success” by Anu Muhammed, (3) “Govern-ment, Agriculture and Mass Destitution” by Rabin Mukherjee, (4) “Beyond the Waste Stream: A Thermodynamic Analysis of Development Technologies” by Sanat Mohanty. The other articles too are immensely readable. But the articles specially mentioned above, reveal the greedy corporate face, and also underlines the futility of patchwork, that the ruling class usually resorts to. The message is brief and clear: “Apply Brake To Corporate Loot”.
And, of course, Bishwajit Roy is at his sarcastic best in “The Politics of Development and Corporate Media: Paradigm Shift in Professional Benchmarks”. He is a brilliant writer and only the best can be expected from him.

Beyond Develompmentalism should be read by a greater number of thinkers and activists. It would provide them with the much needed weaponry against developmentalism.

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