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Sustainable Development Vs Economic Growth-Countering SEZ through Social Action and Advocacy Shewli Kumar Says Sukhbir, a Class

IV employee and a resident of Harsaru, Haryana: This land is gold. It is not barren. Instead of wheat, there will be a marble floor. But what option do we have if the government decides it wants our land, gives us money and tells us to do wage labour? The farmer is in a trap and he thinks the government is helping him out by buying his land. Today, people want to own cars and the youth like to walk around with 500 rupee notes in their pockets. But when that gets over, then what? Indians are living in an unequal world within the nation and outside. Despite a decade of planned development the processes adopted to ensure it has not been able to reduce inequalities and bring about equity in terms of class, caste, gender, religion and region. Increasingly India is experiencing the growth of fundamentalism, violence and most alarming a growing gap between the rich and the poor. This has several implications for a diverse and disparate society that defines India as a nation. According to Peet (2005) development differs from economic growth in that it pays attention to the conditions of production, for example, the environments affected by economic activity, and to the social consequences, for example, income distribution and human welfare. He goes on to expand that development entails human emancipation, one by use of science and technology to liberate from vicissitudes of nature and two self emancipation through control over social relations. In both senses development entails economic, social and cultural progress, finer ethical ideals and higher moral values. 1 However in India with the rapid globalisation and liberalization processes ushering in the hurriedly constructed Structural Adjustment Programmes has done nothing to bring about such development for its people. The SAPs have only added on to the complexities of life situations being faced by various marginalised groups, who are further pushed into

Peet, R. (2005). Theories of Development. Rawat Publications. New Delhi.

extreme poverty. New groups are being displaced and marginalised which include farmers both marginal and landed groups, traditional artisans, contract labour and those who had been part of the informal economy. Despite glaring evidence that all is not working in the development pattern being adopted by the State in the form of farmer suicides, increasing violence and corruption, the Government of India has not been able to envision any alternate plan which would focus on sustainable and equitable development for its people. Instead it seems to want to abdicate its responsibilities to provide basic services to its people and fulfill its commitments within the Constitutional framework, let alone remember to knit in its commitments to various Human Rights Covenants and Declarations at the international levels. Liberalisation focuses on giving greater advantage to large businesses as well as foreign investments. Privatisation on the other hand introduces user fees and makes hitherto reachable services for health and education out of reach for the poor and the marginalised. Between these two processes is a low-wage policy coupled with tax incentives for large businesses which leads to rapid growth as investments increase, but inequality is likely to worsen as lowered worker incomes adversely affect personal consumption and in vestments in human capital. Experience has shown that if public-private participation is not properly designed and monitored, access can be seriously limited, and some people may be excluded. A stronger regulatory framework is therefore needed to guarantee access to social services, with legal mechanisms for preventing or halting practices that exclude or discriminate against certain groups. Even under the best of circumstances, private sector participation in the administration and delivery of social services and benefits systems cannot replace the public provision of these services. Furthermore, if growth contributes to increased inequality, then poverty may worsenif not in absolute terms, and then at least in relative terms, as the poor may find themselves comparatively worse off. For example, inequalities in land ownership also have a negative impact on growth and poverty reduction. Rural economies, in which land ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few while the majority remain landless, tend to face very high costs associated with labour migration and women headed households.

The increasing burden of work reduces women labour productivity and thereby reduces economic growth. One of the major problems that arise here is that womens work is not accounted for and therefore not added to the calculations for economic growth and development. In fact in India there is an increasing emphasis on increasing their productivity for growth through micro finance but no efforts have been directed towards changing their gendered roles or reducing the workload of reproductive work which includes child care, care of sick, elderly and disabled, collecting water and fuel. High inequality in assets can also adversely affect growth, as it can limit progress in educational attainment and human capital accumulationfactors that contribute to higher productivity and ultimately to poverty reduction. The failure to address the needs of poor people as part of a strategy for sustained growth has been a major obstacle to reducing poverty. High rates of fertility and population growth, large pools of unskilled labour, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic have also played a role in perpetuating poverty an increasing phenomenon in India. Internal and international migration are strongly linked to poverty as well; sending communities become poorer, as they tend to lose their most economically active members, and in receiving communities, migrants are likely to be poorly integrated and vulnerable to extreme poverty. The growing tendency for people to move in and out of poverty can mean that those who are not thought to be poor in a particular period may be overlooked by social assistance programmes. Deepening levels of rural poverty, along with the increasing urbanization of poverty, also pose new challenges to development. Within this situation where disparities within the Indian economy is increasing the introduction of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) will only pave the way for further havoc and mayhem with greater dispossession and displacement of people from land and livelihoods. To develop some insight into the SEZ phenomenon which is being touted as the end of all ills for the Indian economy one needs to look at several dimensions including certain legal and policy processes which have emerged in the recent past. These include the infamous Land Acquisition Act 1894, the National Rehabilitation Policy 2007 and the National Agricultural Policy 2000.

Land a Commodity or a Resource? India has been traditionally a rural economy and despite several years of industrialization almost 70% of the population continues to be dependent on land for their livelihoods through agriculture or small scale cottage industries or co-operatives of traditional crafts. These economic activities were to a large extent sustainable and ensured participatory processes and democratic decision-making. Most of these livelihoods had a strong rural or semi rural base. However with globalisation, market economy has tended to overwhelm these enterprises, with a result they are on the brink of crisis and bankruptcy. Inability to understand the complex market processes and the constant refrain of quick delivery of goods through cheap machine made articles, which is compatible with the highly consumerist culture has reduced the demand for these traditional articles. Those engaged in these enterprises have been forced to seek alternate livelihoods which usually mean entering the informal economy and being part of the unorganised labour. At the same time there are other processes of displacement and thereby loss of livelihoods as well as way of life (a socio-cultural loss) through acquiring of land ostensibly for developmental purposes. The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 which is a colonial antiquated law and in letter and spirit anti-people provides that land can be acquired only for public purpose that is educational or developmental (dams etc.). This Act continues to ensure power to those who govern the State to decide the fate of all land within India as and when they wish. In short the ruling elite formed of upper class, urban educated, upper caste social groups for whom land is merely a commodity utilise this Act to design grand development programmes without any real participation and consensus building with those who live and cultivate the land and which often fall short of expectations. In fact the history of SEZ lies in this very Act of 1894. Land is an extremely valuable resource and it ensures sustenance and livelihoods for all. Land as a natural resource is being utilized for homesteads, to cultivate and produce food, set up industries and build infrastructure. With globalisation however the demand for land and other natural resources has acquired a different dimension. These resources are being garnered by national and global corporations to foster businesses for profit. Human rights

have taken a backseat in this process. Despite legal provisions protecting human rights these laws are either ineffective or rendered redundant with market norms overtaking democratic processes. Rehabilitation or Marginalisation Out of 399 million workers in 1999-2000, it is estimated that 371.2 million (nearly 93% of the entire work force) were employed in the unorganized sector, as compared to only 27.8 million (7%) in the organized sector (Sakthivel and Joddar, 2006). Keeping in mind that it is this majority which forms the working population of India which continues to burgeon, with land acquisition and displacement these numbers will only increase. When land is acquired usually the people who live and work on it do not receive any benefit from the industry for which it has been acquired. The Industrialist comes from outside to set up an alien industry for which the local population has neither skills nor the negotiating power to demand livelihoods. To avoid labour unrest and problems these industries prefer to get labour from outside the region thereby disempowering both populations that which had to give up its land and that which has been imported or attracted with incentives, curtailing collective bargaining and therefore labour problems. In reality the industrialist can then get away with low labour standards and wages and ensure increasing profits. A look at the National Rehabilitation Policy of 2007 reflects this spirit of increasing efficiency (read profits for the powerful corporates) as it fails to address key issues relating to conflicts due to forcible acquisition of lands (Nandigram, POSCO, Reliance in Haryana and many others). According to an Asian Center for Human Rights report on the Policy it upholds the sovereign power of the State to apply the concept of eminent domain to forcibly acquire any private property in any part of the country in the name of public purpose. This policy has the clause 7.18 which implies that land can be acquired in case of emergency under Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act or similar provision under any other law of the Union or a State for the time being in force by keeping the affected families in transit and temporary accommodation, pending rehabilitation and resettlement scheme or plan. Some of the other implications of the Policy when reading in between the lines are:

The policy will apply only in an area where there is involuntary displacement of four hundred or more families in plain areas, two hundred or more families en masse in tribal or hilly areas (to note that several tribal hamlets and hill villages do not have more than 10 or more families) and others. Therefore only large scale displacements are covered under the policy. It calls for active participation of the affected persons for rehabilitation but not for processes in development (e.g., if a SEZ is to be set up then the affected people have no say in it). The affected people are denied the right for informed decisions regarding the usage of their lands and development projects. Representation allows the poor to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Unequal representation is perhaps best illustrated by the contrast between the powerlessness of the poor and the dominance of the elite in the formulation of laws and regulations. Such a system often produces legal biases against the poor; laws governing land reform, property rights in general and intellectual property rights in particular are prone to this problem. Given the stakes involved, traditional elites are likely to resist active and informed participation by the poor in decision-making. Indeed the SEZ Act reflects this bias and approach and this Policy serves to reinforce the power of the ruling elites undermining the roles of the affected people in controlling the processes of development and its outcomes. No inclusion of affected families in Social Impact or Environment Impact Assessment Studies. It fails to define who will do these studies and as experience has shown the State hires outside agencies whose perceptions about societies and environments may not be entirely appropriate or indepth. There are very weak provisions for compensation with regard to agricultural lands or cultivable wastelands and it is a well known fact that with less land available land for land is not a viable rehabilitation measure. Hence what are the alternative livelihood options for farmers whose skills are limited to agricultural activities? If they do not have appropriate and adequate livelihoods then what of their Right to Life?

Clearly the National Rehabilitation Policy also reflects the neoliberal ideas of land being a commodity and does not take into consideration the traditional skills available among the people who work and till the land. Tribal societies, their way of life and practice of sustainable agriculture has not been recognised. Since a justification has to be given for forcible acquisition of lands therefore the policy spells out certain rehabilitation measures which are not based on clear human rights principles of respecting, fulfilling and promoting economic, social and cultural rights of the people, which include not just right to livelihoods and thereby right to life, but also health, education, adequate housing, health services and other basic services like clean water and sanitation facilities. In fact with displacement in the name of development large populations will be left without any work and means of adequate income, giving rise to poverty and migration into the already over burdened urban centers. Corporatisation of Agriculture or Sustainable Agriculture Agriculture is an important sector supporting close to 115 million families across the country and providing employment to around 58.2% of all workers. It is therefore a matter of particular concern that there has also been a sharp increase in unemployment among agricultural labour households from 9.5% in 1993-1994 to 15.3% in 2004-2005 which are already among the countrys poorest households (Government of India, 2006).2 With this kind of unemployment there is an increase in migration to urban centers often with families and many times without leaving behind women to look after households and also undertake some informal work to supplement family incomes. The lack of appropriate skills, literacy, the alien city life, housing and other related problems associated with such migration increases the problems of these families. They constitute the workforce in the informal economy with insecurity of livelihoods and lack social security measures. The new National Agriculture Policy 2000, also reflects the non-recognition of this work force clearly committing itself to promote (a) lease markets in land, (b) contract farming, and (c) corporate farming. This all is approved with the intentions of improving the

Government of India (n.d.). Population and Human & Social Development. National Commission on Population. Available from: <populationcommission.nic.in/facts1.htm>.

productivity of land and making transfer of land easier for the efficient users (who else is more efficient than private Corporations?). Those who have traditionally tilled the land or owned it do not come within the purview of these approaches to agriculture. Once again the policy looks at land as a commodity rather than as a resource to be used sustainably. This is a complete antithesis of the Stockholm Declaration which was further carried forward at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, where the various principles of Sustainable Development were agreed upon by all States including India. Certain measures suggested for improving agricultural productivity are: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) computerization of land record (between the lines accessible by internet), regularization/legalization of all kinds of tenancy, and flexibility in protective (existing) measures in land transfers, drop restrictions on sale of land to non-agriculturalists and subdivision which have little economic justification, (v) allow transferability of land by land reform beneficiaries at least through lease and explore options for making the gains from such reform permanent, (vi) Review legislation on compulsory land acquisition and, subject to the prevention of undesirable externalities, allows farmers or their representatives to negotiate with and if desired transfer land directly to investors rather than having to go through government and often receive only very limited compensation. In fact that after pronouncement of the National Agriculture Policy 2000, several states had gone ahead (as it is part of the State List in Constitution of India) with providing relaxations in land use transfers and ceiling related regulations. This proposed policy draft is also unmindful of the fact that several state governments including the government of Madhya Pradesh has already given affidavit in Supreme Court stating that no land is available that can be provided for rehabilitation based on land for land. The latest Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy approved by the cabinet also mentions about Land for Land but suffices it with if possible (and every one knows in present era will be never possible). The draft is also ignorant about the fact that common land 8

had already disappeared to a substantial extend and whatever little is leftover is targeted by the corporate sector in the name of plantations for Agro-fuels namely Jatropha in concerted manner.3 At time when Government is looking for means to wriggle out of the business of land acquisition and leave the matters to market forces by making land a freely tradable commodity the effort best can be termed as dangerously novice. These are some of the processes through which the Government has adopted policies and laws which ensure the smooth transfer of land to corporates, erodes the rights of the people over land and livelihood and paves the way for establishment of SEZs using the stick of necessary economic growth as an argument for development of the nation. In many ways the Government through SEZ Act has legitimized discrimination against the poor and promotion of the rich which mainly comprises of upper caste and class. The selective application of laws translates into gender, caste and ethnic discrimination (forms of horizontal inequality) directed against the poorer segments of society. Typically compromised are labour and consumer laws that, for example, prohibit predatory pricing; the weak enforcement of such laws results in a redistribution from the poor to the rich. In other cases, the laws themselves may be inequitable. Land-grabbing displaces or uproots poor people and is typically the result of discrimination against this vulnerable group, and often takes the form of legalized expropriation.4 This is patently true of the SEZ Act. SEZ States within a State To understand SEZ, it has to be examined in the light of the vociferous and angry protests by the people not just in the much publicized Nandigram episode but also in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra. These are spontaneous outbursts against the forceful acquisition of land which are dispossessing people rich and

3 4

Draft Critique of Land Policy by Ekta Parishad. Madhya Pradesh. 2007. World Social Development. Report on World Social Situation 2005.

poor alike from their only source of livelihoods and are gross violation of their right to life.5 The SEZ projects are being created under the Special Economic Zone Act 2005. The Board of Approvals committee of the Ministry of Commerce has the power to approve these projects. The land area requirement of these deemed foreign territories range from 1,000 hectares to 14,000 hectares. The incentives offered to industries under the SEZ Act reveals a clear nexus between Government and industrialists directed towards earning profit at the cost of local marginalized people, the environment and the sustainable development of the country. British imperialism was dictated by a desire to extract and utilise natural resources as well as cheap labour to foster the growth of British industries. The Indian subcontinent struggled to recognise this and found strong dissenting voices within, which created enough storms to force the colonialists to retreat and move out. The enemy from without was dispensed with for freedom but what of the enemy from within which operates with a similar paradigm? What of economic growth of a minority powerful few who have the hidden agenda of controlling the economy increase their profits and claim all this in the name of the development of the people? It is starkly evident that through policies like the SEZ the government is creating another set of rulers from the Corporate world within and outside India, who will and can control more land than any other government enterprise. One of the most alarming aspects of this is also the fact that there is uniform opinion across all political parties about the need to establish SEZs clearly indicating that within the political arena there is very little space for human rights articulation and debate on the SEZ and their potential violations. At he same time the very fact that SEZ violates right to livelihood sand thereby right to life there has to be a sustained process to counter the implementation of the Act. Governance issues within SEZ SEZ act envisages the setting up of a state within a state where a SEZ will operate outside the existing governance structures that is Municipal Corporations, Gram Sabhas, panchayats and other Constitutional bodies. For example the Maharashtra policy declares

The Supreme Court judgement in the case of Olga Tellis and others vs Bombay Municipal Corporation makes right to work indivisible with right to life.


the SEZs as Industrial Townships to enable the SEZs to function as self governing, autonomous municipal bodies. Union government policy bluntly tells that, Government controls the operation and maintenance function of the Government controlled SEZs. In the rest, operation and maintenance is privatized. Hence within SEZ or in the process of acquiring land for SEZ these mandatory political institutions will have no role to play. In that case once any SEZ demonstrates profits (which it will considering that it will operate without any labour standards), there is no stopping the opening of further SEZs with more and more people being marginalised. Labour Standards The SEZs are made free from the environmental and labour laws and they are exempted from public hearing under Environment Impact Assessment notification. On the contrary, SEZs are permitted to have non-polluting industries like golf courses, desalinization plants, hotels and nonpolluting services in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ). All the environmental clearance powers are vested in the hands of the Development Commissioner, appointed for the administrative supervision and solve the problem for the SEZs. The SEZs have no responsibility to provide employment to the people in and around the area. However, any of the labour laws and regulations will not be applicable to SEZs. All the powers of the Labour Commissioner shall be delegated to the Development Commissioner of the particular SEZ and a single point mechanism in SEZs will be provided to give all clearances and permissions pertaining to industrial safety and other regulations. The practice of hire and fire will be made easier and nobody will be allowed to conduct inspections without the prior permission of the Development Commissioner of that SEZ. The SEZ policy aims to further exclude many services from the ambit of the Contract Labour (regulation and Abolition) Act. And All industrial units and other establishments will be declared as Public Utility Services under the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act. Some of the key issues which will promote straight violations of the rights of the people are the following incentives being offered to SEZs:


That area incorporated in the proposed Special Economic Zone is free from environmental restrictions; That water, electricity and other services would be provided as required; That the units would be given full exemption in electricity duty and tax on sale of electricity for self generated and purchased power; To allow generation, transmission and distribution of power within SEZ; To exempt from State sales tax, octroi, mandi tax, turnover tax and any other duty/cess or levies on the supply of goods from Domestic Tariff Area to SEZ units; That for units inside the Zone, the powers under the Industrial Disputes Act and other related labour Acts would be delegated to the Development Commissioner and that the units will be declared as a Public Utility Service under Industrial Disputes Act. That single point clearances system and minimum inspections requirement under State Laws/Rules would be provided. The proposal incorporating the commitments of the State Government is considered by an Inter- Ministerial Committee in the Department of Commerce.

These incentives will ensure that on the one hand SEZ owners become richer at the cost of the tax payers money and those who have been disposed from their land, on the other hand they will not be repaying the costs of basic services being given exemptions under the Act. Most crucial will be the environmental costs since there will be no mechanism to ensure a check on pollution as well as environmental impact assessment, which then will be paid by other people living around the SEZs and not the Polluter that is the SEZ owners. Social Impact What is happening in India is the transfer of property from individual owners to other private parties, be it in the SEZs or in urban development. Unfortunately, the framework of a private property-based market system does not have any logical basis to such activities. The SEZ lands are not under public ownership and in fact the SEZ Act ensures private ownership by industrialists as well as foreign multinationals. Land is being


acquired by the government and transferred to other private individuals. The fact that wealth is being transferred is evident in the large numbers of titles that are sold off prior to the actual allotment land. Such a transfer of wealth from poor farmers to the middleclass and the rich is logically wrong and is socialism at its worst.6 In fact the process of Structural adjustment has already generated greater gaps between the rich and the poor and what the SEZ will do is to create parallel Corporate Zamindars with political and economic clout, therefore parallel systems of governance where the State laws and regulations will become completely redundant. There is a serious threat to national interests as well with this kind of weak regulatory frameworks in SEZs Foreign multinationals will hold the government ransom through financial and later political clout. Reclaiming the Right to Sustainable Development The Constitution of India has been particular in recognizing the diversities in India and made specific provisions to ensure access to various resources to all. It adopts a typical modern liberal approach which recognises all citizens, irrespective of religion, sex or caste as being fundamentally equal with regard to various individual, civil, political and socio-economic rights under the law and also forbids discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and descent, place of birth or residence. The Constitution recognises the right to life which was later expanded to include the right to livelihood. The 1985 judgement of the Supreme Court upholding the rights of the pavement dwellers who were evicted from the streets of Mumbai (Olga Tellis and others vs Bombay Municipal Corporation), elucidated that the loss of livelihood, was tantamount to denial of right to life, as the right to life and the right to work were interdependent. Yet despite constitutional and legal provisions, in practice citizenship is embedded in webs of power, prestige, authority that create differential rights on axes of class, caste, ethnicity, gender and age (Krishna 2007). 7


Gangopadhyay,S. (2007). Sarkar cant be Zamindar. www.southasianmedia.net.

Krishna, S. (2007). Womens Livelihood Rights-Recasting Citizenship for Development. Sage Publications. New Delhi.


The Declaration on Right to Development to which India is a signatory has given a complete and holistic approach to development encompassing all sections of the world society. The human rights framework however has to be implemented in letter and in spirit which means ensuring not just de jure but de facto rights to the people. It also ensures inclusion and deliberate outreach of rights to those who are left out due to socioeconomic and cultural constructs in any given society. A look at some of the significant articles will help. Article 1 The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized. The human right to development also implies the full realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, which includes, subject to the relevant provisions of both International Covenants on Human Rights, the exercise of their inalienable right to full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources. The SEZ Act is an antithesis to this principle as it does not recognise the rights of the people over land and natural resources and also the right to self determination. Article 2 The human person is the central subject of development and should be the active participant and beneficiary of the right to development. All human beings have a responsibility for development, individually and collectively, taking into account the need for full respect for their human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as their duties to the community, which alone can ensure the free and complete fulfillment of the human being, and they should therefore promote and protect an appropriate political, social and economic order for development. States have the right and the duty to formulate appropriate national development policies that aim at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals, on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of the benefits resulting therefrom.


Article 8 States should undertake, at the national level, all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development and shall ensure, inter alia, equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income. Effective measures should be undertaken to ensure that women have an active role in the development process. Appropriate economic and social reforms should be carried out with a view to eradicating all social injustices. These affirmations can be further substantiated with the various principles enunciated in the World Conference for Sustainable Development held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Of these three of them are critical in understanding why we need to focus on sustainable development and not economic growth. These are: Inter-generational Equity which enunciates that the right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs for the future generation. The main object behind the principle is to ensure that the present generation should not be depleting renewable resources so as to deprive future generations of its benefits. The Precautionary Principle which says in order to protect the environment the precautionary principle should be applied widely by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage the lack of scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent degradation. The Polluter Pays which states that national authorities should endeavour to promote the internalization of environmental costs and the use of ecological instruments taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle bear the cost of pollution with regard to public interest and without distorting international trade and investment. However SEZ does not have any mechanism to ensure or fulfill any of these international commitments and human rights principles and therefore is inherently against humankind.


Seen within this framework SEZ has to be countered and demands for repeal of this retrogressive move should be highlighted and encouraged. Countering Discussions for Economic growth and Replacing it for Sustainable Development. There are several ways in which development as a concept has been articulated, however several third world feminists (Kabeer, Rao and Krishna) have probably provided the most holistic and complete understanding of sustainable development. To quote: Development is about people, about enhancing their ability and power to direct their own lives, in the context of their environment, their history and their aspirations for the future. Development is not about catching up with other people. But is about an enlarged range and quality of choices, of lifestyles, of occupations. It encompasses better nutrition, health, education and freedom from oppression and poverty. The process of development involves structural tranformations in the organisation of society and the economy. Such a process cannot take place without altering relationships of dominance and subordination, or affecting the interests of different groups within society. (Krishna 1996) If we take the above definition of sustainable development then social action and advocacy become inherent approaches to countering SEZ like processes. The one way would be utilise a rights based approach and locate strategies of action and advocacy which will help this process. Usually human rights are perceived as strictly legal but recent mobilisation of South Asian human rights groups and creation of spaces for representations of south Asian cultures and societies has led to the development of the third generation of human rights which is largely concerned with collective rights. These are rights which belong to a collective (whether community or nation) and which need to be understood in a collective context. The perception of land as a commodity comes with a western perspective and focuses on individual ownership. Unfortunately the entire ideal and approach to growth oriented development is extremely individualistic and western. In reality land in India is often owned in a collective, be it the joint family or as a common lands. This essential socio-


cultural and economic ethos and their linkage to livelihoods have been ignored by the current economic developmental processes. SEZ is a complete anathema to this lifestyle and ethos. Hence it is this that has to be revisited and brought back to the forefront. Third generation rights include right to economic development, right to belong to a strong cohesive society and environmental rights. Therefore for social workers need to frame their work on collective rights around community development which as Ife (2001) has articulated has six dimensions. These are: Social development- to strengthen social structures, which may include dismantling and restructuring some as well and interaction. Economic development-recognises and foster community based sustainable economic activities that benefits and strengthens a community rather than serving the global economy. Political development- requires understanding existing power structures and decision-making within the community to help develop inclusivity, effectiveness and strength. Cultural development-emphasises the importance of community history, cultural norms, values and traditions and seeks to strengthen community-level cultural activity in face of commodification and globalisation of culture. Environmental development asserts that a sense of place, connectedness to physical environment is essential to human wellbeing and seeks to integrate environmental protection and development within the community. Personal and spiritual development maintains that personal fulfillment and community are necessarily linked. Keeping the above six dimensions for the promotion of the third generation rights one can develop some possible strategies which social workers can work with to counter SEZ and other such growth oriented approaches to economic development.


Power generation by tribal women M. Malleswara Rao HYDERABAD: Power generation by tribal women? Incred ible? But, this is to happen from June in the forest villages of Vetamamidi, Pinjarikonda and Metlapalem, in East Godavari district, where work is in full swing to harness the Yeleru river for power generation. A decade-long government effort to ensure benefits out of water bodies in the forest areas such as hill-streams, waterfalls and rivulets to local tribals will pay off from this month when the three mini-hydel projects, taken up at these resolate habitations, will begin power generation. An all-women 20-member project committee, elected by the grama sabha, will own and manage the power station, while ITI-recruits, among tribals, will operate the plant. This is the first experiment of its kind, lending a social angle to electricity generation. The Hindu. Online edition, Monday Jan 18th 2008.

As can be seen from Box 1 there are several possibilities where communities can be empowered to bring about development in there areas. What is critical is to counter those who are in power and there single minded focus on promoting a few rich who would rather garner as much material wealth as they can by promoting the concept of economic growth rather than sustainable development. Hence it becomes imperative for social workers, researchers, academicians, civil society representatives and like minded policy makers to carry out sustained campaigns against retrogressive programmes like SEZs. Some strategies that can be adopted are: Consistent and ongoing multi-disciplinary research-using human rights frameworks to analyse SEZ and other such related policies which dispossess the people of their rights to land and livelihoods with specific focus on women, Dalits, tribes. The research to facilitate development of alternate strategies for sustainable development. Engaging with stakeholders- the people and local governance, political parties, trade unions, State representatives, judiciary, and human rights institutions. Creating awareness through campaigns, discussions with media to publicise issues, local regional language media, community radios, street plays etc., Learning from past-cooperative movements like SEWA and Urmul have shown the way how livelihoods of the people especially women and marginalised can be developed. These and many other best practices should be used to formulate new strategies for economic development. Greater Political Participation by the people to hold them accountable as well as ensure that they represent their demands at all policy making levels. This would 18

mean working closely with local political representatives as well as informal leaders within communities. Developing solidarity and networks with all affected communities and their leaders to strengthen advocacy to challenge the current developmental practices adopted by the State. References: Ife, J. (2001). Human Rights and Social Work-Towards a Rights-Based Practice. Cambridge University Press. UK. Krishna, S. (2007). Womens Livelihood Rights-Recasting Citizenship for Development. Sage Publications. New Delhi. Peet, R. (2005). Theories of Development. Rawat Publications. New Delhi. Sakthivel, S. and Joddar, P. (2006). Unorganized Sector Workforce in India: Trends, Patterns and Social Security coverage. Economic and Political Weekly, 27 May. Gangopadhyay,S. (2007). Sarkar cant be Zamindar. www.southasianmedia.net. Government of India (n.d.). Population and Human & Social Development. National Commission on Population. Available from: <populationcommission.nic.in/facts1.htm>. Rajalakshmi, T,K .(2007). The Brave New World of Tax Exemptions. www.hinduonnet.com http;//www.thesouthasian.org/archives/2007/women_farmers_protest_reliance_html http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/jud.htm http://www.unep.org/ http://ww.kafila.org/2007/09/08 http://www.thesouthasian.org/archives/2007.