Former SAI Graduate Student Associate Namita Wahi helped organize a conference in Delhi recently, as part of the “Land Rights, Environmental Protection and Inclusive Development in India” project that she is leading. It was organised by the Centre for Policy Research, the Christian Michelsen Institute and the University of Bergen in New Delhi, and Wahi played a leading role in organizing the conference. The work was profiled in a recent Frontline magazine article..
HE COMMONS ARE UP FOR GRABS. The shared wealth of communities created and enjoyed by generations, the commons include the wind, water, resources below and above the earth, the grass, the leaves and, in modern settings, the pavements, playgrounds and also the Internet. From being public property for the common good, they are increasingly becoming private holdings for anybody who can name a price. And it is no longer a secret that political parties and corporate houses are colluding to ensure that every bit of land, water and natural resource is used up to feed the ghost of “development”.
From the east coast to the west coast, community rights are being trampled upon and converted into individual property rights to fit the capitalist scheme. Is there no resistance? Plenty of it, with affected people from across communities, used to the traditional ways of life, organising against the capitalist mafia, but to less and less avail.
As far as the political class is concerned, in denying the rights of the traditional communities, parties across the spectrum are proving to be more of a similar, rather than different, hue.
A conference on land rights, environmental protection and inclusive development organised by the Centre for Policy Research, the Christian Michelsen Institute and the University of Bergen in New Delhi last month saw the participants, led by the advocate Namita Wahi, thrashing out some of the issues plaguing our commons.