Lessons From The Past

Kiran - Bhubaneswar, India
Entered on March 24, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Few days back i was reading about the Australian Prime minister Kevin Rudd.It was about his unconditional apology to the stolen generations.Now for the uninitiated stolen generation refers to the those children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian and State government agencies and church missions, under various acts of their respective parliaments, denying the rights of parents and children by making Aboriginal children wards of the state, between approximately 1869 and 1969.

The hypothesis being aborigines are not a civilized lot like the whites & their off springs must be made civilized so as to enable them to assimilate into the Australian society.A point worth noting here is that the reasoning is pretty much similar to the apartheid regime that was pursued in South Africa & the various other racist agendas pursued by colonial powers .Am reminded of the “The White Man’s Burden”.This poem penned by Rudyard Kipling aptly justifies the thinking & the Euro-Centric view point.This view proposes that white people consequently have an obligation to rule over, and encourage the cultural development of, people from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds until they can take their place in the world by fully adopting Western ways.

But how do you define superiority?Are there any fixed parameters for defining the same?For the aborigines or for that matter any group of individuals their lifestyle is the best;even though it might appear archaic or obnoxious to someone who is not accustomed to their way of life.The Jarawa tribes of Andaman being a case in point.

Of lately,even in India the attitude of the city bred people in powerful positions especially in Politics,Industry & Bureaucracy has been disdainful towards Tribals & other marginalized groups.The theory that Industrialization is the panacea for all the developmental woes of these backward areas- infested with poor & marginalized especially tribals-has done more harm than good.The problem is that this group of educated & liberated Indians think that GDP or GNP is everything.What they forget is another concept called GNH or Gross National Happiness.Only economic wellness isn’t important & in this case even that is debatable for how the unskilled & semi-literate tribals will benefit from Industrialization is unclear.

What the policy makers don’t consider is other forms of wellness viz.Environment Wellness,Socio-Political Wellness,Mental wellness & Physical Wellness.Our poor performance on these counts is well reflected in our ranking of 128 amongst 155 countries in UNDP’s Human Development Index.

The numerous incidents that take place in opposition to the Government policies on Industrialization are a reminder that somewhere we are getting it all wrong.Its time to introspect & ponder upon our decisions.Should then industrial Development stop?The answer is no,but there must be a congruence of views & opinions of both the groups.In short the development must be a sustainable one.Then,the question before us is what are the alternatives for sustainable development?The answer is Yes,there are many;but the key is as i have put it earlier the needs & aspirations of the poor & marginalized class must be of paramount importance & not our vision thrust upon them.Then only we can move towards an equitable society & avoid incidents such as the one that happened in Nandigram or Kalinganagar,Orissa.