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Environment & Development, Bhagalpur (Bihar, India), 8.3.2016


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An updated presentation on the incompatibility between current 'development' model and ecological sustainability and social justice; and alternative practices and approaches for well-being (with examples from Bihar added).

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Environment & Development, Bhagalpur (Bihar, India), 8.3.2016

  1. 1. Can Environment and Development Go Together? Ashish Kothari Kalpavriksh
  2. 2. India’s Impressive Growth • One of world’s biggest economies, high growth rates, amongst world’s richest persons, 800 million mobile phones …
  3. 3. ‘Development’ • Development = opening up of opportunities: intellectual, cultural, material, social vs • ‘Development’ = material growth (through industrial and financial expansion) – measured in % economic growth, per capita income, etc • ‘Development’ model currently dominant only 50-60 years old
  4. 4. Today’s vision of ‘development’ Violence against nature, communities, and cultures
  5. 5. Destruction of India’s environment – >5.5 million ha. forest diverted in last 60 years – 70% waterbodies polluted or drained out – 40% mangroves destroyed – Some of the world’s most polluted cities and coasts – Nearly 10% wildlife threatened with extinction – Extensive chemical poisoning Smitu Kothari
  6. 6. ‘Green / White revolution’ models •addiction to outside seeds, water, fertilisers, pesticides, credit •soil loss and degradation •dependence on market, govt, moneylenders •monocultures, bias against diversity •neglect of dryland, seasonal, shifting agriculture Pauperisation of marginal/small farmers: >250,000 suicides (many in heartland of green revolution!) Destruction of India’s agriculture
  7. 7. Cost of environmental damage = 5.7% points GDP World Bank (2013) (impacts taken into account) •urban & indoor air pollution •inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene •agricultural damage by soil salinity, water-logging & soil erosion •pasture degradation •deforestation Growthless growth
  8. 8. Jobless growth, continuing deprivation, new dispossession • Myth of growing employment: ‘jobless growth’ in organised sector: – 26.7 million in 1991 – 30 million in 2012 • % below poverty line: 38 to 70% • World’s largest number of malnourished and undernourished women/children • 60 million people displaced by ‘development’ projects
  9. 9. Over-consumption by the rich • Does this really bring happiness?
  10. 10. Where is all the money going? 1% richest own almost 50% wealth!!!!
  11. 11. India the new Coloniser (with China) >500,000 hectares of pasture/agricultural land taken over by Indian companies in Ethiopia More in L. America and rest of Africa Direct/indirect support by government
  12. 12. Towards alternatives
  13. 13. Food security: sustainable agriculture
  14. 14. •Reviving traditional diversity, promoting cultivated and wild foods •Creating community grain banks •Empowering women/dalit farmers, securing land rights •Creating consumer-producer links (Zaheerabad org. food restaurant) •Linking to Public Distribution System Deccan Development Society (AP): integrating conservation, equity, & livelihoods through sustainable agriculture
  15. 15. Towards organic, Kedia village (Jamui), Bihar
  16. 16. Water security: do we need big dams and canals?
  17. 17. Kachchh Water self-sufficiency in one of India’s lowest rainfall regions
  18. 18. Arvari Sansad (Parliament), Rajasthan: water and food security through landscape governance
  19. 19. Natural resources: conservation & livelihoods
  20. 20. Conservation through decentralised governance: Mendha-Lekha (Maharashtra) Informed decisions through monitoring, and regular study circles (abhyas gat) All decisions in gram sabha (village assembly); no activity even by government officials without sabha consent
  21. 21. Conservation of 1800 ha forests, now with full rights under Forest Rights Act Vivek Gour-Broome Earnings from sustainable NTPF use (over Rs. 1 crore in 2011-12), and use of govt schemes towards: •Full employment •Biogas for 80% households •Computer training centre •Training as barefoot engineers 2013: all agricultural land donated to village, collective ownership
  22. 22.
  23. 23. Community based Adjutant stork (garud) protection in Bhagalpur area, Bihar
  24. 24. Livelihood security
  25. 25. Jharcraft (Jharkhand) Employment for >3 lakh families… reviving crafts, reducing outmigration
  26. 26. Dharani, AP: farmer’s company (facilitated by Timbaktu Collective)
  27. 27. Maati Sangathan, Uttarakhand Women’s empowerment through local resource-based livelihoods
  28. 28. The Village and the City …
  29. 29. Gram swaraj & rural revitalisation: outmigration is not inevitable Ralegan Siddhi & Hivare Bazaar (Maharashtra), Kuthambakkam (TN) Kudumbashree (Kerala)
  30. 30. Towards sustainable cities Bhuj (Kachchh): •reviving watersheds, decentralized water storage and management •solid waste management and sanitation •livelihoods for poor women •dignified housing for poor •Information-based empowerment under 74th Amendment (Hunnarshala, Sahjeevan, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan, ACT, Setu)
  31. 31. Middle class actions … Lake revival / conservation, water harvesting, garbage management (Bengaluru, Salem) Participatory budgeting (Bengaluru/Pune)
  32. 32. Learning & education Traditional and modern, oral and written, local and global Continued links with cultural and ecological roots •Schools: Pachashala (Andhra), Jeevanshala (Narmada), CFL (B’lore), Adharshila (Madhya Pradesh) •Colleges: Adivasi Academy (Gujarat) •Other learning centres: Beeja Vidyapeeth (Uttarakhand), Bhoomi College (Karnataka), SECMOL (Ladakh)
  33. 33. Energy, technology… Energy: decentralised, renewable, efficient (Ladakh solar; SELCO Karnataka) Solar micro-grid powering village Dharnai, Bihar
  34. 34. Energy, technology… Technological innovations to reduce ecological impact, reach the poor (malkha cotton weaving, AP; Hunnarshala housing, Kachchh)
  35. 35. The government responds… • New laws: – Right to Information Act – National Employment Guarantee Act – Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 • New programmes: – Organic farming policies / programmes in 16 states: Sikkim 100% by 2015, Kerala by 2020?
  36. 36. Decentralised governance Nagaland ‘communitisation’: devolution of govt powers over education, electricity, health to village councils Result: sharp increase in quality & quantity of services
  37. 37. Eco-swaraj: Radical ecological democracy (Radical = going to the roots, challenging the conventional) • achieving human well-being, through: – empowering all citizens & communities to participate in decision-making – ensuring socio-economic equity & justice – respecting the limits of the earth Community (at various levels) as basic unit of organisation, not state or private corporation
  38. 38. Towards a sustainable and equitable society … 5 pillars •Ecological sustainability –Conservation of nature, sustainable use of resources •Social well-being & justice –Equality between men/women, classes, castes, etc •Direct democracy –Decision-making by citizens, accountable govt •Economic democracy –Means of production in hands of producers, localised self- sufficiency, economy of caring/sharing •Cultural and knowledge diversity –Knowledge as public resource, respecting cultural/ethnic diversity
  39. 39. Fundamental values & principles • Diversity and pluralism (of ideas, knowledge, ecologies, economies, polities, cultures…) • Self-reliance for basics (swavalamban) • Cooperation, collectivity, and ‘commons’ • Rights with responsibilities/duties • Dignity of labour • Respect for subsistence • Qualitative pursuit of happiness • Equity / equality (gender, caste, class, ethnic) • Simplicity, enoughness (aparigraha) • Decision-making access to all • Respect for all life forms • Ecological sustainability
  40. 40. Pathways to ecological swaraj…. • People’s resistance (Vedanta/POSCO, Orissa; anti-SEZ; hundreds of others) • Stretching limits of system (RTI, FRA) • Citizens’ networking, joint actions, collective visioning • Empowering political carriers of new visions …. movements, students, unions, etc • Alternatives confluences (vikalp sangam)
  41. 41. Mutual learning with other peoples / cultures …. • Latin American experiments: direct and delegated democracy, worker-led production, community health, land re- appropriation movements • Europe’s degrowth movement • Cuba’s urban agriculture, public R&D • Indigenous peoples’ territorial struggles and notions of well-being (buen vivir, sumak kawsay, ubuntu …) • Many others….
  42. 42. Vikalp Sangams (Alternatives Confluences): practical collaborations, bottom-up visioning
  43. 43. Vikalp Sangams (regional / thematic) Timbaktu, Andhra Pradesh, Oct 2014 Madurai, Tamil Nadu, Feb 2015 Ladakh, J&K, July 2015 Wardha, Maharashtra, October 2015 Energy, Bodh Gaya, March 2016
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  45. 45. • • • For more information….