Angular Development

SAMHITA BAROOAH

Development is the new chanting mantra for notes, votes, resources and remedies. When we look at the context of development in India it is multi-dimensional. People are mesmerised by the reduction of the drudgery of human effort. Now that process is done through politics, religion, autocracy, democracy or market for a common person it really doesn’t matter. We are often triggered by extremely personal habits, choices, traditions and practices but somewhere our focus on the larger picture gets distorted. Even people in power benefit from diversion of people’s politics to personal habits and preferences when they can design powerful universal codes in the process. The nerve of Indian sensibilities lies within the layers of self-assertion of diversities and differences in the garb of gender, religion, caste, class and language. Jugaad and adjustments are the two indispensible words which define the existence of diversity and amity amidst hostility and intolerance.

These days development seems to be the flavour of the month. Concretisation, mobile connections, internet access, digital demonstrations, CCTV surveillance, urbanisation, mobility, stability and peace deals are all signs of rapid development. Wish the third world development was not a first world agenda. Exposure of the third world to the first world has indeed led to a lopsided development paradigm which is rooted in the first world but does not fit into the third world. The same context is true for development of some parts of India and underdevelopment of other parts of India. Wish development could connect people to their basic human needs across gender, class, caste and tribe. Development needs to sustain resources, choices, sensibilities, cultural, religious and social sentiments of communities and individuals. In developed countries we have greater tolerance and solidarity towards humanism rather than assertion of a particular form of religious sub-culture. Religion has stratified society in such a way that now it becomes almost impossible to restructure such social stratification. Religious norms have only divided belief systems, made slaves out of human beings to human imagination and rituals have led to a schizophrenic symptom of chauvinistic hegemony. Now such form of religious restructuring is penetrating through the pores of so-called right-winged development. Sacrosanct development benefits only those who have evolved through the religious alliances. In today’s context development is the face of religious majorities across the world, capitalist regimes across the world and patriarchal structures across the world, universal monocultures across the world. Any form of art, science, technology, information, practice and service which caters to this powerful omniscient structural transnational, pan Indian and universal alliance becomes a cog in the wheel of this hegemonic nexus. But if any one resists this nexus with alternatives either through violent or non-violent means, then they become blasphemous eye-sores whose survival becomes a bone of contention.

While we are creating avenues for skills, entrepreneurship and development within urban, semi-urban, rural and semi-rural contexts across India, are we feeding the divisive religious politics instead in the name of development. Are the words secular, socialist, democratic, justice and liberty erased from the elitist imagination of a developed nation state like India? Well these words are constitutional, legitimate, nationalistic and peaceful as well. But anybody who seems to express public or personal dissent when attempts are made to erase these words they are silenced with verbal, physical, cultural and religious threats. It seems that these days technology, information and markets run along the lines of forces of power and prejudice. Development is a disguise for sanskritisation, hetero-normativity, forceful religious intolerance and patriarchal domination nowadays with the public verdicts in elections, education, employment and food preferences.

I would live in harmony with nature rather than trying to suppress the natural forces with religious fundamentalism, destructive technologies, unequal development and restrictive regimes which disguise development. Wonder why the development discourse is stuck to adopting outdated technologies, discarded materials and obsolete innovations when it comes to applications. As a third world, subaltern, post colonial nation, India’s development lies in regeneration and restoration of its agro-bio-social and cultural diversity not in homogenising everything and everyone around them. Being a non-political, non-fundamental, non-religious, non-conforming, non-violent individual, group or a family has become a biggest threat in today’s world. Looks like an angular distraction rather than development.

Samhita Barooah

Samhita Barooah

Samhita Barooah is a Researcher and Travel Writer.