Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Development: The double edged sword.

A few days back, I was watching a popular news channel. It was unfolding the Singur controversy. For people who have missed it, Singur is a rural town in West Bengal where the Tatas want to set up their famed '1 Lac' car plant. The controversy is over the land. Farmers are not ready to forgo their land, but the state government is adamant to acquire it and hand it over to the Tatas. Violent protests have ensued and the town is facing a law and order problem.

As I explained to my mother, who was also watching the news along with me, I realised that this problem was not just specific to Singur, but it related to the whole country. Every developmental project has problems pertaining to land. The problems may be wide ranging-- From complaints of acquiring excess land to paltry compensation to compensation not reaching the deserving, etc etc.

But I realised these problems were only the tip of the iceberg. They can be solved through various means. But I feel the bigger problem is of a different kind. It is the scarcity of land itself. What will happen when every possible piece of land is industrialised? What next? What will happen to agriculture sector which employs more than 75% of our population? Where will the farmers go? Most important of all- What will we eat? All kinds of food we consume comes directly or indirectly from the farms. What will happen when farmer ceases to exist? I wonder whether that will be the beginning of the end.

The above mentioned scenario may seem a little far fetched for our generation. But it is bound to happen in some time if the same trend continues. The pace at which industries are growing is phenomenal. This acceleration of growth is partly due to farmers' dismay over their economic condition. The government's poor support system and low income forces them to sell their land and look for alternate employment. This leads to ills like mass migration and selective population explosion.

The solution? Well, I am not very sure. The way out may be to slow down on other sectors and develop and support agriculture based industries. That way, we can reduce the disenchantment of farmers and keep them motivated. After all, the principal need is to survive.

My mother, though, had a simple solution. She said that all the illegal lands of politicians, if seized, would be enough to build more industries than ever required. How I wish that was possible.

In essence, development, without any doubt, is a double edged sword. If used recklessly, it can destroy mankind in just one swipe.

1 comment:

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