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Meet seeks new paradigms for development, politics

Staff Reporter
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Fight of the marginalised to defend natural resources: Medha

The convention of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) that began here on Saturday called for alternatives to the current hegemonic ways of development and politics.

Addressing the conference at the Salsabeel Green School in Thrissur, social activist Medha Patkar emphasised the need to form an alternative strategy to the investor-driven model of privatisation and monopolisation of resources.

“The investor-driven development model deprives thousands of people the resources on which they base their livelihood,” she said. She stressed the NAPM’s commitment to oppose all casteist, communal and corporate forces.

“It is the fight of the marginalised communities to defend their natural resources for their livelihood and for the generations to come. This right to life is not only constitutionally guaranteed, but is an inalienable human right.”

She said the question of the political alternative, depended on who was raising it. “We have never seen Parliament or Assemblies discussing the issues of the common man. Those who have chosen active politics have not yet proved its effectiveness. So, let us wait and watch. People’s politics is the alternative route to power for people,” she said.

Civil rights activist Binayak Sen said there has not been a period in the post-independent India when the State has not used military power against its own citizens.

“There is a need to redefine nationalism in the context of false cases being framed against communities such as Dalits, Adivasis and religious minorities, who are struggling against the usurping of their natural resources by the corporate-political nexus.” Their struggle against imposition of draconian laws derived from a colonial legacy has been labelled as violence, Mr. Sen said.

Social activist B.D. Sharma spoke about increasing inequality between the haves and have-nots in the country.

“Inequality is derived from the economic exploitation of the masses. The current situation of economic inequality is perpetuated through the control of oligarchic political parties, who decide on important matters on the basis on their party’s whip,” he said.

“In the backdrop of 20 years of the neo-liberal reforms in the country, there is a need to challenge the reforms vigorously,” said Prafulla Samantara, national convener of NAPM.

Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisaan Shakti Sangathan said only the collective struggle of people can check the corruption and unjust political and economic system. He spoke of the Right to Information Act and its role in demanding the government to be accountable to its people.

Ali Manik Fan from Lakshadweep, said that capitalist mode of development in the name of modernity would destroy and hegemonise knowledge, civilizations and imaginations of the people.

Social activist K. Ajitha linked the exploitation of women in Kerala to the flourishing tourism industry.

The convention will witness parallel sessions on viable alternatives on various issues such as energy, community control over natural resources, democratic development planning, agrarian crisis, politics and governance, state repression, popular culture and media, education and health.

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