Friday, 7 February 2014

Selling the Ideology of Development

There is neither any knowledge divorced from power relations, nor possibility of either peace or sustainable development in a unipolar world may not be governed by the immoral ecocidal logic of corporate globalization. There is piling information overload and lack of real discernment or knowledge in the age aptly called the Age of Information. The age valorizes surfaces and has little use for depths, essences, reality behind appearances and truth behind illusions. Postmodernism is content with illusions and is committed to the “ontology of singular events.” Knowledge of reality is denied to most people in an age that puts onus on utilitarian or pragmatic consideration and maintains subtle control on media. The true story of exploiting financial structures, of neocolonialist banking masquerading as aids/loans, of dissolution of gold standard, of inflation, of recessions, of remote controlled speculative businesses of markets especially stock markets, imposed myths of national interest and all pervasive war machinery eating up public money for imaginary and manufactured security threats is largely hidden from public gaze. Current Development Model involving industrialization and technolgization is also a great myth that has been perpetuated and preached to the third world. It has resulted in virtual slavery of the latter and destruction of the environment and put them at the mercy of ill understood market forces. It is no wonder that peace is largely absent. Capitalist economy that has been successfully able to globalize itself thanks to opening up of “closed” economies such as Indian economy has resulted in unappreciated damages to economic, social and moral fabric of society. Capitalism necessarily breeds conflict and it is strange that Muslim academia has not sufficiently recognized the roots and real causes of conflict both within their societies and with the West.  How development discourse has affected agriculture – to take just one illustration – may be understood by taking note of the following few points.
Today we don’t have agriculture we knew few decades back – organic and sustainable that was key to provision of local needs. Increase in production did occur thanks to green revolution but is it sustainable? Hasn’t it increased dependence on imported capital, pesticides, weedicides etc. and hasn’t this all led to health hazards and isn’t the fact that almost all of us are ill partly attributable to food we take that has been produced through modern technology. Drug residues are in animal products thanks to this development ideology. (And dairy industry has grown at the cost of other things that we don’t discuss).  Today agriculture is not envied or profitable that way it was.  Agricultural land sells for a paltry sum as agriculture is hardly profitable. Only cash crops are profitable though in the long run we are perhaps destroying the very basis for sustainable cash crop production. The State has lost much of pasture land and much of public land. The farmer’s son can’t afford quality education or healthcare. It means feudalism is there under a different guise as the rich have costly land and production or industrial units and farmers are only labourers. They have nothing to sell but labour power. Agriculture lives largely on subsidies. We have lost erstwhile independence and autonomy in agriculture sector when we had relatively large quantities of rice grains, vegetables, pulses etc. For most people there was little market dependence on important commodities, especially food items. Adulteration was largely unknown. Villages have been increasingly converted into deserts if we speak from economic perspective. We are losing villages and with this tradition and culture.
I am not advocating return to agriculture for a modernizing economy but ask for debating the costs and how we move forward and take care of other factors associated with the ideology of development. The question today as election fever has gripped the nation and our state is how come our leaders invoke the rhetoric of growth and development. And what an irony that rozgaar that has become a key issue in elections is a product of development discourse. Why can’t we ask those who seek votes to be better informed about the violence in the very ideas that they sell us. How development discourse has almost destroyed Ladakh is a tale so little known and I suggest reading Helena Norberg-Hodge’s Ancient Futures to understand the point. None has so far attempted to write a similar book about Kashmir. We need those who ask questions about what is not questioned at all thanks to hegemony of such ideas as those of development and even sustainable. There is no such thing as sustainable development and development implies, if we go by its history after Truman exported it to the developing world, decadence in many ways.
I conclude by raising another related question. No radical and imaginative steps have been taken to reorient economy on traditional/Islamic lines, decentralizing power and strengthening community centric enterprises as against rampant individualism which has destroyed sanctity of relations and bred unemployment and alienation. We need to analyze the nexus of distorted/manipulated knowledge and lopsided development and consequent impossibility of sustainable lasting peace in the world, especially in the economically and politically vulnerable Muslim world. Kashmir issue is a result of development discourse that great powers need to keep imperial machinery working. 

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