On March 22-23, 2007 more than hundred organisations and an equal number of individuals participating in the Conference against Displacement at Ranchi, adopted the Ranchi Declaration that was the baisis of the founding of Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA).
No to Displacement! No to Devastation!
No to Destitution! No to Death!
Only Change with Equity and Justice!
The Conference against Displacement
BELIEVES that the Imperialist model of ‘development’ that has been insidiously pursued ever since 1947 in India and is now being openly promoted under the aegis of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation has led to the destitution of people and destruction of natural resources, not to mention the environment, with the complete support of the predator state machinery, including a section of the judiciary and the executive.
This ‘development’ model has been primarily responsible for displacement of millions of people from their land and all other sources of livelihood. It has pauperised vast sections of agrarian masses; deprived millions from permanent employment and created in its place just a fraction of temporary and contract jobs for a pittance; it has driven the bulk of the middle classes to destitution, in the process elevating a small section into the elite club.
At the other end of the spectrum it has created a class of rentiers, retainers, servants, lumpens, etc—a growing class of hangers-on, all at the service of this neo-rich section at the top.
A decade-and-a-half of these policies have, pushed more than one lakh peasants to suicide. Massive unemployment have further impoverished an already devastated people in both rural and urban areas and marginalized millions. All the four dreaded Ds are fast engulfing our society — Displacement, Disorganisation, Destitution and Decimation. It is now time to say NO.
REITERATES that the so-called ‘new phase of development’ being ushered in by different governments in the form of mega projects, super highways and other infrastructural schemes, the new phase of so-called capital formation involves gigantic mining projects, Special Economic Zones (SEZs), urban renewal and beautification, is nothing but the unmitigated loot of all our natural wealth and mineral resources on a scale never witnessed before. It is development OF and FOR the market; FOR the creation of a market based on the expenditure OF the very rich together with a growing upper middle class who live off crumbs thrown off the table of the super-rich.
EXPOSES the hidden structural displacement caused by relentless insidious exproriation of rural economy that has resulted in sectoral and regional imbalances; accentuating rural-urban divide; further sharpening the disharmony between industry and agriculture forcing the latter in penury; capital-intensive industries at the cost of small-scale and house-hold industries, which provided large-scale employment; growing impoverishment of the rural with the mounting spectre of unemployment; all these have caused massive migration from the villages to the urban centres in search of bare subsistence at any cost. The situation in the urban centres for these vast sections of the people is no different. Most of them add to the large contingent of the urban destitute. The government refuses to acknowledge these people as part of the productive economy, yet leaving no chance to extract maximum surplus from their labour through contract labour. They are often looked at as agents of crime, unrest and risk in the urban centres. For the urban planners in the service of monopoly capital—local and foreign—these people in search of new opportunities for a dignified livelihood, with no other choice, are dispensable as they make the cities unclean and unsafe for the real elite to live! The workers, particularly in the unorganised sector and the peasants have to fight together this aggressive onslaught on their lives and livelihoods. Without decisively moving away from the present model of development, without a people-centered model of development any efforts toward a solution would tantamount to treating the symptoms than the disease.
ANALYSES that the massive displacement is a result of the ‘development’ for ‘security’ and ‘stability’ strategy being adopted by the imperialists in oppressed countries like India, Afghanistan or countries in Africa and Latin America. The new approach is based on the findings that countries that are highly dependent on the export of primary commodities and are populated by large numbers of young men, with limited or no education are also highly susceptible to civil conflict and political instability. This is in tune with the policy of Structural Adjustment promoted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the attendant fiscal disciplinary measures propounded by the World Bank.
OPPOSES (the) extraction of resources in these regions in the name of ‘development’ and the attempts to transform poorly educated youths as agents of imperialists through so-called ‘capacity building’ with the help of ‘modern’ institutions of ‘good governance’. It opposes ongoing projects supported by London School of Economics (LSE) and other premier institutions from the West like the Department for International Development (DFID) etc. being undertaken in India by Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and a section of the academia which are promoting the process of so-called ‘institution building’ for facilitating ‘good governance’. These steps are attuned to facilitate the needs of the international as well as the local capital to use the people as ‘resources’, to be exploited as cheap labour. It is through the politics of ‘capacity building’ and ‘institution building’ that the interests of the local and foreign capital of reaching out to the skewed markets in the rural areas for wanton expropriation of the abundant surplus that is untapped for the service of imperialist loot.
UNDERSTANDS that these politics of ‘capacity building’ ‘institution building’ and ‘good governance’ is nothing but to facilitate the forward march of capital—foreign and domestic—in its search of maximisation of profits. Through these measures and several legal and other means a sense of inferiority is engendered amongst the local people especially the tribals and dalits about their culture and society. Further, the resultant displacement renders these communities incapable and ‘lifeless’ to organise to face and repulse the beastly, predatory advances of imperialist globalisation promoted by the rich and the powerful in this country. It is the community feeling, namely, the sense of belonging rooted in ones own land and community, the memories that makes this existence meaningful, that is under tremendous attack. The representatives of various organisations and democrats in this conference resolve to build a powerful cultural movement against the socio-cultural displacement of the people, which is fundamentally intertwined with their lives and livelihoods.
UNDERSTANDS that this ‘development’ also brings with it an increasingly fascistic state as the extremes of rich and poor are creating acute social tension with the masses being pushed to the wall with no other alternative but militant resistance. The intensifying contradictions between the rich and the poor, between regions, between various peoples, communities ostensively obliges the state to resort to a combination of brutal repression and numerous diversionary tactics. Both fascist repression and diversionary tactics of majoritarian communal hysteria are also an outcome of the policies of the imperialist model of development.
OPPOSES this development model with negative employment which brings displacement, destitution and death for the masses of workers and peasants, devastation of the economy and environment, but provides windfall profits for the imperialist multinationals and their domestic allies—big business houses, bureaucrats, politicians, et al.
Particularly the Conference against Displacement
CALLS FOR an end to the current ‘development model’ which is nothing but the opening up of the markets to monopolies, as a result of which the traditional crafts have collapsed as machine-made goods are flooding the rural markets, and causing massive unemployment; Holds the current ‘development model’ responsible for the phenomenal economic inequality and calls for its effective eradication as a top priority.
DEMANDS the scrapping of the hundreds of MoUs that have been signed by various governments giving various multinational corporations and Indian monopolies the rights to mining and extracting the rich mineral wealth of the country. This will displace lakhs of tribal people in the resource rich regions in the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and the adjoining areas in West Bengal, Vidharbha and eastern Madhya Pradesh and also regions in the North-East.
REJECTS the National Agricultural Policy that abandons the basic principle of ‘land to the tillers’ and envisages ultimately corporatisation of agriculture. The step towards corporate farming is the logical culmination of the current agrarian crisis that has rendered agriculture non-viable, which is fundamentally a man made one. Under it, the traditional landowners have been alienated and even in the ‘developed pockets’ like those of the ‘Green Revolution’ belts it has become impossible for the farmer to hold on to the farming land as a viable enterprise, through heavy indebtedness making the farmer a virtual ‘bonded labour’ of financing institutions that are indulging in open usury. This conference calls for a paradigm of development with small farmer at the centre stage, with the final objective of establishing a regime with ‘community ownership and individual right to use”.
REJECTS the policy of expropriation from the rural agricultural sector through depressed entitlement for work in agriculture by (i) designating the most dextrous work in agriculture as unskilled and (ii) non-adoption of the general principle of wage determination that the worker should be able to for the upkeep of the self and the family. Further every successive government is united in subsidizing the corporate sector through insidious expropriation from the already impoverished agrarian economy, which is the backbone of the economy of the sub-continent.
REJECTS the principle of “eminent domain of the State” and the right of the state to acquire land. The alternative use of resources shall be with the informed consent of the concerned communities with a further stipulation that the concerned people have to be assured of life with dignity on terms of equality in the new setting and their command remaing non-negotiable.
DEMANDS that the insidious expropriation from the agricultural sector is stopped for forthwith and its proceeds in the past till date are re-invested in the same. This conference is witness to the increasing tendency of successive governments at the centre and the states to do away with all forms of state support to agriculture and related productive activities. It further demands to restore and increase all the government support that is not a favour but defacto return of loot and ensure that lives and livelihoods related to agriculture and related activities not only survive but regains its prime position in the national economy in the interest of the vast sections of the people who have lost all hopes of survival in an economy which is increasingly in favour of the monopolies that are local and foreign.
REJECTS all laws of colonial vintage that are anti-people, like the SEZ Act. The Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Act for instance, would facilitate the process of creating enclosures within the country where most laws of the land would not hold. Besides the estimated loss of revenue to the Indian government it will lead to the massive displacement of the rural populace whose prime lands are being forcibly seized.
REJECTS the urban development plans that are being drawn up in the name of urban beautification under plans drawn up by global policy advisory groups like the Mckinsey from the US. This streamlining of the urban spaces offers minimum security risk for the operational needs of foreign and local big capital in these areas. It will marginalize the already impoverished poor, is hitting at the middle classes, small traders and small industries. This beautification will aid the rich and powerful who can enjoy their ill-gotten wealth without the ‘polluting’ effect of the poor who are further ghettoised.
REJECTS all big dams, which are the continuation of the logic of ‘Temples of Modern India’—coined by Jawaharlal Nehru while inaugurating the Bhakra in Punjab or the Hirakud in Orissa. Big dams are nothing but Temples of Colossal Waste. There can be better ways of irrigation and power generation through using the water right from where it touches the earth through schemes like water shed management and small check dams, which will cause little displacement, devastation and submergence. The ecological devastation and destruction of livelihood that it causes is much more than the gains that are being projected. It is an axiomatic truth that the case of big dams is only in the interest of the construction mafia, big capital and contractor lobby. We oppose the World Bank position of opposing the big dams while at the same time pumping crores for enhancing the so-called storage capacity—another password for big dams.
OPPOSES the North-East Power Grid, which is aimed at domination or is a form of Development as Counterinsurgency. The construction of no less than 168 mega-dams with a cumulative capacity to generate 100000 Megawatts of power. This will endanger the fragile eco-zone of this region not to say that it will totally subvert the cultural, political, social specificities of the various peoples of this region who will be displaced from their very territory, which is central in their struggle for their right to self-determination. Many of their indigenous institutions also would be destroyed in this process.
OPPOSES the wanton creation of National Parks and sanctuaries, which is an easy way to drive away the people—mostly tribals—who live in these areas. These sanctuaries are then developed as tourist spots promoted by monopolies as eco-tourism. This is yet another example of dispossessing the tribals of their land not to say the violation of constitutional guarantees accorded to them in these areas.
OPPOSES projects like the super highway that is being built from North Bengal to the Mekong Valley under the much-hyped ‘Look East Policy’ (LEP), which is nothing but ‘Development’ as counterinsurgency. And all other such super highways which would not bring any betterment to the lives of the vast sections of the masses but would only enhance the easy access of the monopolies to reach the rich resource belts deep inside the forests and remotest hamlets, so that these resources can be easily extracted and transported without any hitch.
The Conference against Displacement
RESOLVES to develop a sustained and united countrywide resistance against the massive trampling on the natural and legal rights of the people, which is happening on a scale unprecedented in post-1947 India, under the garb of second wave of ‘economic reforms’. This is nothing but a violent assault on the right to life and livelihood of the masses under the guise of creating a New India marching forward in the 21st century as a major power.
EMPHASISES that the only alternative can be a model that really enhances the well-being of the vast masses, preserves the people’s natural wealth, and protects the environment. An alternative that builds the domestic market for commodities through equitous entitlement and eradication of inequality that would enhance the purchasing power of the masses thereby becoming the motor for industrial growth and development of the economy; which is holistic, serving both the needs of the people and environment. A model of development that is equitable, just, and humane.
REALISES that such an alternative is not possible without, opposing tooth-and-nail, the present Imperialist model of development. There can be no half-way measures as the present model is an integrated whole, with each aspect linked to the other, all serving to extract maximum profit for the imperialists and their hangers-on in the country. Whether it is the mining projects, or the schemes for the SEZs, or the infrastructural developmental projects, or that of urban ‘renewal’—all are part and parcel of the present phase of ‘economic reforms’ inspired by globalization. These are nothing but a continuation of the earlier phase of ‘economic reforms’ started vigorously in the early 1990s and continuing apace no matter which government has been in power. Any attempt to find formulas of adjustment with the existing polices are doomed to failure as they have their own dynamics dictated by the needs of profit maximization and imperialist loot. There is no other way than to oppose in total all these projects and the policies that facilitate them.
REITERATES that this challenge calls for a massive movement of the people to resist these projects at the ground level and also awaken the entire country against this model of ruin and penury for the people resulting in more and more enslavement to the imperialist exploitative machine, particularly the US. The various peoples of the region need to be aroused against the imperialists and their local lackeys who are selling the wealth of the people for a few dollars.
This Conference against Displacement calls for an alternative model of development that is
- a people-centred (oriented) model based on a self-reliant economy free from the imperialist Yoke. The polices of development must, first-and-foremost, enhance the well-being of the masses and must be in their interest—not at their cost.
- The natural wealth of the country must only be extracted to the extent that it serves the needs of the masses (of people)—neither for imperialist loot nor for the extravagant infrastructural ‘needs’ of these moneybags and their indulgence in vulgar consumerism. Not only should the SEZ policy be totally reversed but the emphasis must be on developing indigenous industry, that generates employment and protects labour rights, and introducing land reforms with an unequivocal call for land to the tiller in its true spirit with the ultimate goal of ‘community ownership and individual right to use’ . Land must not go to the big industrialists and imperialists through the SEZ policy but be redistributed to the landless and poor.
- Infrastructural development must also be people-oriented where the prime need and immediate priorities are health care, hygiene and education.
- Environmental regeneration must be an important factor in this model—which has been destroyed by rapacious rape of the environment for profit and the green revolution–type polices—this by extensive reforestation, scientific water management and topsoil regeneration.
- In this new model of development all decisions must be made by the people themselves at the grass-root level and built upwards in a genuine form of people’s government. It is the people themselves who know best what type of development is in their interest and what is harmful. They have the inalienable right and are in the best position to decide their future. For this they must take the future into their own hands and wrest control of it from the hands of the money-bags and their agents. This alone can assure all-round growth and not the ruination and destruction as is happening today.
- The resistance against displacement has to be reinforced through building on a short term, people’s sectors, with negotiating power with people’s command as a non-negotiable proposition through suitable institutional mechanism that assures a place of honour on terms of equality in the new frame that would have the potential to initiate short-term relief measures for the vast sections of the masses while fighting the state. It further calls for an Equitable Wage Policy with inter-sectoral parity and honourous acknowledgement of traditional skills as its moving spirit.
- The Conference against Displacement demands that all those families/people who have been displaced since 1947 due to mining, mega-projects, dams and industrialisation should be rehabilitated properly and justly. Displacement as a concept must be erased from the paradigm of Development with Equity and the same in any form shall be stopped forthwith.
But to build this new model it first requires an uncompromising opposition to the present model and all the policies that are coming up. For this, there is need to build a huge movement against displacement and the very model of development itself.
The Conference against Displacement
FINALLY CALLS on all genuine democratic and anti-imperialist forces to unite and create a tornado of dissent that forces the rulers to stop this juggernaut trampling the lives of the people of the Sub-continent.
VISTHAPAN VIRODHI JAN VIKAS ANDOLAN (VVJVA)
Dopted on the 76th Martyrdom Day of Bhagat Singh - 23rd March 2007