From Churning of the Earth
Time is not on our side. We are on different coaches of a long, accelerating, burning train. The few air conditioned coaches in the front are insulated for the time being from the fire that is blazing in the coaches at the back, where the majority of the passengers travel. one of the coaches have already derailed (think of the 200,000 farmer suicides). However, the wealthy people in the AC coaches want the engine staff to run the train even faster. The latter are fully dare that the flames will be further fed by the wind if the speed is increased, creating many more derailments and casualties But they are either seduced by the thrill of the ride or appear helpless before the pressure brought upon them by the occupants of the luxury coaches (both Indians and foreigners (no less than by the international station masters (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) who are cheering on each such national train in the ruthless economic race that globalization has unleashed between nations.
– Aseem Shrivastava & Ashish Kothari, Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India
Let me unpack the lines I quoted above.
The first is by Jiten Yumnam. Considering that he has faced torture in jail at the hands of the police for his work defending human rights and speaking publicly about climate change, I was left speechless by the calm he maintained throughout his detailed presentation. And regarding the law and legal processes such as the Environmental Impact Assessment, Forest Rights Act and Schedule V he stated simply that the government was not following the laws.
Later in the day when one volunteer approached me and said that since AID takes many stands opposing the government we also need to add a line in our code of responsibilities not to be prejudiced against the government I reminded him that we are actually supporting the Constitution and the laws that the government is supposed to follow, and those in the government who are sincere and follow the laws need our support to govern correctly. He persisted, that may be the case but what if a volunteer did not even support that and simply said that the government is wrong, even if they weren’t? “Don’t we need a policy to say that volunteers should not be prejudiced against the government?” I replied, that would be like having a policy that we should not be dumb.
There was a tragi-comic moment during Kamayani’s session on her work in Bihar, when Ayeshadi raised her hand and challenged the position of Bihar as India’s most backward state. Firing off three pointed examples of injustice and insult that women of West Bengal face when applying for NREGA jobs or pensions, she asked, “Bihar mein aisa hota hai kya?”