Saturday, July 31, 2010

Neoliberal loot in mining: the self and governance

We do have an utility maximising self. Governing mechanism or state in other words is the only outlet (apart from self morality) to protect resources from this inherent greed. The morality mechanism is already paralyzed, since we have stepped into Durkheimian Organic Solidarity, that has installed impersonal, contractual relationships.

The case:
We live in a world filled with resources, and our country is exceptionally rich in some regions. An estimate by Ramakrishnan (2010) suggests that 1.64 lakh hectares of forest land has been diverted for mining in India. Only Iron-ore mining used up 77 million tonnes of water in 2005-06. States like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Nocobar Islands, etc. are the major share holders of this diversion.

The liberalised loot:
India is investing $300 billion in 2009 (statistics by Indian Institute of Metals), six times of the total investment made since independence. Orissa sites one of the worst examples. Here, an in other states illegal mining occurs at places inhabited by tribal people. They are working as labourers and no benefit is redistributed to the locality. With the change in mining policy which encourages private sector intervention in the sector initiates displacements, and environmental degradation manifold. As a result a few people and corporations get benefitted at the cost of enormous environmental, social and human cost. Ramakrishnan (2010) focuses on expert's argument that regulatory mechanisms are paralysed or near absent.

Disasters and displacements:
A study by Amnesty International on Vedanta's operations in Orissa focuses on violation of environmental laws that prevents contamination of air, water and human condition. The history of mining reflects displacement of 2.5 crore people and not even 25% of them gets replacement.

State: politico-corporate nexus
Now coming back to the larger issue, its about the self's interest maxmisation and the control over that pursuit. It is only state and civil society that can and should work as a filter to control the unlimited maximising pursuit of a few individuals and corporations. However, these mechanisms are not working in the way it should work as the state is promoting corporations. The civil is voiceless. Even, states are using Maoist tag for legitimising their intervention in these tribal inhabited regions.

Taking the picture as a whole, it is found that miners operate with support from politicians. There are instances where they enter into active politics and run businesses while being part of the government (Das 2010, Menon 2010).

Interestingly, the rationality of state, as reflected historically: "doing for others", "controling subjects for better ends", "optimal use of resources", etc. are all engulfed or eclipsed in the deep blue sea of capitalism.

May be the civil, may be the subaltern keep looking for an alternative, however, we don't know who is wearing what mask? what lies behind the mask? and whether, the mask has anything real, i.e., really different from the mask?