Bauxite In The Hills of Odisha

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

India has colonised itself. The richer are getting rich in India and poor are getting poorer. However, the most concerning ill has been the corporate mafia eating the system - it's opposition, and the revolt of Maoists has been the most important concern for the ruling government in India, especially for the UPA.

Maoists, an extreme amalgam, banned by the CPI, are rebelling through the deep and isolated jungles of India, united for a cause- to oust away corporate fascism, unleashed by the state or by an amalgam of corporate elites. In a 2009 parliamentary speech, P Chidambaram, who was himself a former committee member of the Vedanta Industry Group, openly espoused hostility towards Left-wing extremism.

In hills of Odisha like Damanjodi and Niyamgiri, nature is God and industries are demons. The people there believe that if ecology is disturbed, their gods are sold - Dongria Kondth long existed before the creation of India or Odisha. The exploitation of natural resources in India runs in a conflict between religious beliefs and corporatism. Is India trying to get away from Socialism, which runs deep in the constitutional veins of the legal machinery? This accumulated injustice has provided a catalyst for a stark class divide, which has basically formed a basis for an armed war between the State and its people.

In 2008,  a report ‘ Development Challenges In The Extremist Affected Areas ' was submitted by an expert group, directed by the Planning Commission Of India. It ascertained the popularity of Maoism amongst landless peasants and adivasis and even found some positive implications. The report rejects the official "security-centric" approach in dealing with the movement and instead suggests an "ameliorative approach with emphasis on a negotiated solution". A very far cry from the single biggest internal security rhetoric challenge posed by the government.

The Bauxite materialism cause is like ravaging an 85 percent community and pleasing the rich. To please the corporate fundamentalists, the ruling government, especially the home minister, is urging to make the State a police State. In a recent outcry by Arundhati Roy in 2009, in her reportage book, “Broken Republic”, the author pondered: “If it takes 60,000 people to silence tiny valley of Kashmir, how many will it take to contain the mounting rage of hundreds of millions of people? If Chidambaram is going to Climate Change Conference this year, can he leave bauxite in the mountains?” 

In the book, “Out Of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel”, Samarendra Das and Felix Padel researched and found out that the total value of bauxite deposits in Odisha is around 2.27 trillion dollars at 2004 prices – which would be four trillion dollars till 2009.

The desperation of stakeholders in the mineral-rich state is such that there are MoU’s signed at the behest of corporate leaders, at the price of religious beliefs and environmental degradation. The CSR debate is underlined for financial profits. Social value and environmental value that should be strategised in their corporate missions is downplayed, purely for gains. 

Having said this, Vedanta’s social development debate hasn’t stopped. The company claimed running initiatives of starting a school, a child care centre and roads but have only been opposed by stiff opposition.

Many academia have now turned to debate where they critic Maoist struggles derived from Che inspired guerrilla war textbooks. In fact, when we talk about Adivasis, they have had a history of resistance against the State, which actually predates Maoism. Now the real test starts for Indian state: Is murder of its own people through operation green hunt a sane exercise for the eradication of social ills from the country? 

Historically, companies have always won the war when it comes to displacing people. The Maoists are waging war on streets because the impoverished community members are getting displaced and some of them rarely get jobs. When they get displaced, hopeless and downtrodden, the movement takes up arms. Conversely, Adivasis and tribals have the protection of their cultural life secured by the Indian Constitution.


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