Basu: IPT reveals underbelly of Indian “development”

Deepankar Basu, UMass Amherst Economics Professor

The Independent People’s Tribunal (IPT) on Land Acquisition, Resource Grab, and Operation Green Hunt was held recently in New Delhi.  The tribunal brought grassroots voices from different parts of the country protesting against neoliberal economic policies and corporate resource grab.  In his article, “The Independent People’s Tribunal Reveals the Underbelly of Indian ‘Development'” Deepankar Basu, UMass Amherst economics professor, gives context to the three-day event by detailing the current political and economic climate in India.  For example, the combined net worth of the richest 100 Indians in 2009 was US$ 276 billion, yet, as of 2004-2005, roughly 80 percent of Indian households did not have access to safe drinking water.  Additionally, the resource grab that is underway has already displaced upwards of 300,000 indigenous people. (MR Zine, 4/17/10 and ZNet, 4/20/10)

The Independent People’s Tribunal Reveals the Underbelly of Indian “Development”
by Deepankar Basu
April 17, 2010

Running for three days, from April 9 to April 11, the IPT heard accounts of diverse grassroots activists from the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, and Jharkhand, the theater of an insidious war — nicknamed Operation Green Hunt (OGH) — that the Indian State has launched against its own people.  Supplementing activist accounts and testimonies of witnesses with critical insights and advice of social scientists, journalists, legal experts, former government functionaries, and human rights activists, the people’s jury of the IPT made its opinion known through its interim observations and recommendations, the most urgent of which was to stop OGH and initiate a process of dialogue with the local population in the affected areas.1 Other recommendations included: immediately stopping all compulsory acquisition of agricultural or forest land and the forced displacement of the tribal people; making the details of all the memorandum of understanding (MOUs) signed for mining, mineral, and power projects known to the public; stop victimizing and harassing dissenters of the government’s policies; withdraw all paramilitary and police forces from schools and hospitals; constitute an Empowered Citizen’s Commission to investigate and recommend action against persons responsible for human rights violations of the tribal communities.2

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