Beyond the Dominant Paradigms of Development

Arup Kumar Sen

Very recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given in-principle approval for 100 per cent strategic disinvestment of the Government of India shareholding in Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), a Navratna Company under the Ministry of Steel (See The Wire, February 7, 2021). This is a perfect example of the neo-liberal paradigm of development being pursued by the BJP government at the Centre.

A recent petition floated against this move by the Centre titled Save Vizag Steel Plant noted that VSP “provides livelihood to about 33,000 persons directly, another 40,000 persons are depending on the steel plant in the allied activities”. All of us should protest against the possibility of loss of jobs/livelihoods of such a large number of people as the outcome of the privatization drive of the Central government.

The paradigm of development which gave birth to such a giant steel plant led to a different kind of displacement of people. In the above-mentioned petition, it is stated: “…64 villages were evacuated and 22,000 acres of land were given up to build this gigantic steel plant over 10 years”.

The question that crops up in our mind is that who paid the price for the construction of this giant steel plant by being displaced from their land and livelihoods. In fact, State-led ‘development’ projects displaced a vast mass of subalterns, particularly adivasis and dalits, and destroyed their livelihoods over the years. Our imagination of people-centred development should go beyond the dominant paradigms of ‘development’.

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Feb 17, 2021

Arup Kumar Sen

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