Kalinganagar, Jajpur, Odisha

The Overall Picture:
Kalinganagar is the name given to the Jajpur industrial cluster located in the Jajpur district of Orissa. Jajpur along with districts of Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Angul, Dhenkanal, Kendrapara, Balasore and Bhadrak constitutes what is known as the “mainland” Orissa. These districts fall in the plains of Subarnarekha, Mahanadi, Baitarani and Brahmani. Historically, these districts in the plains held themselves to be superior to the “periphery” which consists of plateaus and hills containing the districts like Sambalpur, Nayagarh, Koraput, Kalahandi and others. The periphery are inhabited by tribals like Kandhs, Chenchu, Bhuyans, Juangs and others, those of who have often exercised power as king makers in the states of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar. The districts of Sambalpur, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar are inhabited mostly by tribes of Jharkhand and since these districts are geographically similar to Jharkhand, they are claimed by the Greater Jharkhand movement. The adivasis in Orissa are usually non-Hindus, presently overwhelmingly Christian, and have always had an uneasy relationship with the Hindu mainstream. The category of “non Oriya”, laced with a strong sense of outsider is used for the adivasi population and the relationship between the two sets of anthropes is one of distrust, competition and conflict. The adivasis too are divided among themselves; the tribes like the Bhuyans and Juangs, who claim their affinity to Jharkhand imagine themselves as superior to the rest because of their historical role in setting up and breaking kingdoms of Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Dhenkanal.
The present tribals who are displaced by the Kalinganagar project are Mundas, who largely inhabit Jharkhand. Community memory says that they were imported from Jharkhand and settled in Jajpur by the king of Sukinda in order to clear the forests infested with formidable foliage and wild animals. The kind of Sukinda did this in order to get a passage from Sukinda to Cuttack, the high point of British power and Oriya culture during the late 19th and early 20th century. The Munda settlement of Jajpur was not before these dates. The Mundas were given only right of cultivation of the forest land and not titles of the land. This was in keeping with the adivasi society of not holding land as private property. Typically, Adivasis operate over a large area of ecology with specific identifiable ensemble of plant and animal species. This is because they rotate the patches on which they cultivate, a practice known as shifting cultivation, a much maligned practice in modern science. However, with recent findings on environment management, the indigenous practices have their own merits since such cultivation is free of the need to use fertilizer and pesticides and helps in cutting down very old trees of the forest. Very old trees have slow photosynthesis rates and become net emitters of carbon dioxide adding to the global warming. Felling such trees and planting young saplings increase the photosynthesis rates and hence maintain the supply of oxygen.
Shifting cultivation implies that the adivasis are not really tied to specific plots of land and instead operate on a geographical area. This is possibly why they have never quite cared for land titles and appeared to us as “forest” people. It is in the adivasis interests that they protect the forests because without forest, shifting cultivation is not possible. This means that adivasis are never averse to moving out of specific plots and resettling elsewhere as long as they get a similar ecology. The steel plants of the past like RSP, BSP and BSL had displaced adivasis but then displacement never became such an issue. This is because the availability of land in the early 1950’s and 1960’s was more than what it is at present and the displaced persons could relocate themselves easily in some other corner of the same geographical zone. Besides, such projects employed people in lakhs and helped many homes to achieve decent standards of living.
For the adivasi, farming is a basic food security; it is not so much a means of livelihood. Adivasis secure themselves of basic calories through subsistence farming which includes multiple crops like cereals, lentils, vegetables, leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and animal protein. After securing their food, they then go in search of various kinds of work those are mostly unskilled. The adivasi feels no shame in performing physical labour and are found in various kinds of construction work. Let it not be imagined that farming and agriculture is livelihood for an adivasi, for they are keen to take upon a variety of employment; farming is a way of securing food for themselves.
When Biju Pattanaik, the political legend in Orissa announced that the state needed a second steel project and selected Jajpur as the place to set it up, the adivasis and the Oriya people were very happy. They imagined that Neelachal Ispat would be like the Rourkela Steel Plant that would come with opportunities of income and employment. They looked to be at least participants of the ancillary industries and allied activities. Interestingly when Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd, henceforth NINL came up in 1995, the local inhabitants came in for a rude shock. This is how the adivasis describe the process.
It seems that there was an announcement that NINL was acquiring land and clearing such land of its occupiers. The inhabitants, mostly the Munda tribes took the compensation money at Rs 10,000 per acre but continued cultivation till two years later in 1997, when NINL actually came in to put a boundary. The people meanwhile had looked around for alternative land and found that not only there were no longer any empty patches of land in the forest where they could resettle, but that the area that looked like a forest was actually various patches of privately held land!! The land on which the Jajpur cluster grew up initially belonged to the raja of Sukinda, parcelled out and sold off to private individuals from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar after the land ceiling act. Therefore when the Industrial Development Corporation of Orissa decided to acquire land, it did not have to acquire government or common land under eminent domain for public purpose but just had to buy land from private owners. Land was thus more easily transferred to IDCO in this way. The adivasis now realized that they had no land to settle on; there was no government land to occupy and the money they received as compensation was too meagre for them to be able to buy land. They also got to know through hearsay and other kinds of circulation of news that IDCO was selling paying Rs 35,000 per acre to the title holders of such land. The adivasis demanded more compensation to vacate the land on which NINL was to come up.
The demand for more by the adivasis was met with police repression and people were physically carried including the sick, the old, the children and pregnant women and thrown under the open sky at some distance. Some also died in police firing. The episode created widespread reactions among the adivasis who now decided to oppose whatever came in the name of industrialization. Tatas came into Kalinganagar just then. The adivasis were ready with their resistance to Tata; the company played a double game with the people. On the one hand they promised discussions, on the other hand they started their bhoomipuja. The Tatas brought in the police on the day of the bhoomi puja and the police open fired on the protestors killing a party of 14 among the front liners. The police guilty of killing civilians in peaceful protest went off scot free as the Tatas continued with their land levelling. Tata goons descended in the adivasis coopting many with bribes of a future employment in the company and of a good life at the camp but also issued threats to those who did not comply with them. The threats were intimidating, almost always in Hindi; there were exemplary killings with dead bodies thrown in front of some factory gate. As the media and the activists raised voices in protest against the killings and built up pressure on the state to intervene, the police started shuffling out of affairs at Kalinganagar; instead the Tata goons took over the task of the police; murder and mayhem followed.
The Tatas have adopted a carrot and stick policy. The carrot is the Tata card, a card that is provided to the families of the displaced persons. This card enables the members of the family to access medical facilities provided by the company. But the stick is the label of the Maoist that is given to those who are continuing the resistance over land dispossession and displacement. These persons are denied treatment not only in the medical centre set up by the company but in any medical centre in the area. No doctor has the courage to offer treatment to these persons for the fear of getting arrested on charges of having assisted the “Maoists”. The Tatas have desecrated the school inside the village of the adivasis and the children have nowhere to go to. Young boys spare about the entire day and earn a neat pocket money by supplying tobacco and alcohol in pouches to the guards at the gates of the factories in the place. The trafficking of young girls has become so rampant and prostitution so wide spread that the Orissa government has passed a law which recognizes prostitutes as the poorest of the poor and hence provide access to BPL cards and health care. This is a way of reaching out to the worst affected section of the people who today are branded as the “Maosits” because this is the segment that is most willingly taking to prostitution.
The Tatas have a reputation to maintain and hence it will no longer resort to any kind of open display of aggression against the people. Instead, they are using covert measures to intimidate the people who resist them. One of the ways to do this is to cut down the forests everywhere leaving the recalcitrant adivasis with only their homestead and patch of land. A patch of land at a fixed spot is useless for an adivasi and the destruction of forests mean the cutting off of supplies of fuelwood and fodder. The people are embargoed in as the supporting forests are destroyed.
They are simply holding the resisting people hostage till they agree to vacate the land totally. There is no active movement as such in the sense of slogans, processions and stone peltering but there are silent forms of torture like denying access to health and education, embargo on essentials like fodder and fuelwood, making a road all around the village so that the villagers have no exit road out of the village, witch hunting as Maoists, threatening doctors and other government officers who help them, rewarding the commissioners who side with the Tatas and transferring out any officer who sides with the protestors. Tatas use bribes liberally to turn every decision of the government in their favour and there is a general agreement across Orissa that it is the Tatas who run the state.
The adivasis cannot seek any kind of government help because in the record of the government the land that they are occupying has already been vacated and hence they have ceased to exist as persons. They are divested of their BPL cards, job cards for the NREGA and no contractor in the area has the courage to employ those people who have not agreed to be displaced.
Much worse is the case of the adivasis who have moved into the Tata’s transit camp. The camps are constructed like barracks, surrounded by barbed wire, securely guarded and are totally watched. The women’s bathing area and the toilets are wholly in the public gaze, by the side of the road and right in front of the guard. It is impossible to use the toilet in privacy; women emerge out of bathing areas dripping wet and must walk in full public gaze till they reach their quarters to change. The homes look into each other and there is no semblance of privacy to guard personal modesty. It is as if the girls and women are stripped in public. Such an architecture reminds one of the Nazi camps and is especially designed to break women’s confidence in protest and also force them into prostitution and flesh trade, the main beneficiaries being the employees of the Tata plant !!Making of a Movement:
Observing the step by step built up of a simmering resentment into an uncontrolled wrathful conflagration, one may observe the following events in a chronology.
1. Neither the adivasis nor the Oriyas were ever averse to development and in fact the entire society welcomed the setting up of the second steel plant. People in general looked forward to peripheral businesses that grow around the steel plants like transportation, hotels, repair shops, plumbers, electricians, tailors, retailers, whole sellers, grocers and providers of mats, brooms, cloth and toys. However, these businesses only become economical when the basic provision of food and shelter are fulfilled. Since subsistence farming provides food and nutritional security and provides some basic assets as insurance against risks like diseases, sickness and morbidity, economic diversification and economic expansion need necessarily be built up on a firm foundation of a basic subsistence economy. Unfortunately for the local persons the present model of development as was evident in the NINL land acquisition was based upon large scale displacements of people from their basic food security. This was unacceptable.
2. Even when the mainstream Oriya society could start some form of alternative business with the compensation money it was difficult for the adivasis to do the same. Economic markets are underlined with strong personal and social networks in which caste, ethnicity, linguistic groups matter very much. The adivasis with little presence in the economy finds it impossible to penetrate the same as truck owners or as owners of repair and tea shops. Lack of social density and social milieu makes it very difficult for the adivasis to participate in the economy and set up alternative sources of livelihood.
3. The adivasis therefore wanted to save and invest the money. They have little access to nationalised banks, where officers mislead and cheat them; it is difficult for them to open accounts because of the lack of “address proofs”. Besides, in the area earmarked for land acquisition, all kinds of government schemes like the NREGA, BPL have been withdrawn leaving the citizens invisible and without any “proof of existence”. Some private financial companies emerged on the trail of the compensation money and promised the local people of fantastic pay outs. Nothing came out and the company disappeared with the money leaving the adivasis divested of their money as well as of the land. “Company”, whether financial or steel came to mean the “East India Company” of Lord Clive and it is commonly believed that the British colonialism has returned albeit in the garb of the incumbent Chief Minister and the “companies” needless to say led by the Tatas.
4. When the saga of land acquisition began first with the NINL, the adivasis recalled their displacement during the setting up of the RSP, when they could easily relocate in some other part of the forest. But in the present case, the adivasis found, much to their dismay and surprise that resettlement was not possible. Forests were cleared, land was unavailable because of the proliferation of private ownership and if one had to purchase land then prices were too high and naturally unaffordable through the compensation money. This reality rudely shocked the adivasis and made then demand more money as compensation.
5. Land is not looked upon as a means of livelihood but as a way of locating oneself in the world upon which social opportunities are supposed to build up. It is an essential social security, a form of economic and social accumulation and must be judged not on the income flows it generates but on the guarantees it offers for food security, security of shelter and subsidizes the person who enters the labour force. Land becomes a kitty into which savings are transferred, on which savings accumulate to take care of yet another generation; it is a guarantee of life chances of people, and it is an asset that makes social opportunities materialize meaningfully for the labour force. If there has to be a genuine compensation for land, then it should be much beyond the mere income flows from land; compensation must quantify the social security and social accumulation that is possible for a person who has ownership of land.
6. The State has a deep legitimacy among the poorest of the poor in India. Despite various failings the Indian state has always been looked upon as the last resort by the poor to sustain them against extreme poverty. This has been especially true in Orissa, a state that has seen substantial state interventions in repeated food crises that has dotted its present as well as colonial history. It was therefore a matter of great despair that NINL, being a state owned company behaved as callously as it did. The force that it used to physically throw people into the open air without shelter against the sun and storm and no mercy shown to children, newborn infants, pregnant women, the old and the sick revealed the ruthlessness of a state in pursuit of profits. It was here that the people recognized in the remorselessness of the State that profits and not development was the motive of industrialization and since then alienation of the people from such industrialization was total and irreversible.
7. When the Tata’s project came up for land acquisition the adivasis were “prepared” to fight it out. The story was quite similar because the “company goondas” fought more valiantly than the police, captured, tortured and killed the protesting adivasis. When police complaints were lodged, a Tata officer who master minded the killings in the front gate of Rohit Ferro Alloys was arrested but later released on bail. Killings happened in many spots and these “spots” constitute the “relics” of the land. NINL and Tata Steel firings are today part of the folklore and burial sites of dead adivasis are now the relics of such lores.
8. Police officers who showed sympathy with the adivasis were transferred; while the Commissioner who came to investigate from the High Court only seemed to write a report on the state of poverty in the villages of Jajpur and not inquire anything about the killings. The Commissioner was rewarded with a family holiday in Singapore. These episodes threw in despair among the adivasis, a complete loss of faith in any kind of institutions around them and a belief that the one who holds the barrel of a gun gets his way. Violence has its roots in the utter despondency of the situation.
9. The adivasis would not have despaired so much had they seen the honesty of the State in implementing a Resettlement and Rehabilitation plan; unfortunately this was never implemented. Interestingly, though the R&R policy leaves much to be desired because the policy makers have major misunderstandings about the nature of livelihood, issues of food security and aspirations of the people. Were the R&R policies been implemented even without the clearing of such misconceptions, in the way it is written out in paper, it would not have angered the people to this extent.
10. The adivasis reason compellingly that the “market” has been bypassed in the negotiations over land. Had the State and the Tatas negotiated in terms of the rules of the market, the situation would have been entirely different and distinct. The adivasis are annoyed at the “insider” and “cronyism of the corporates and the State; they would have been happy were they allowed to negotiate as free economic agents.
11. As the movement against Tata Steel grew, the adivasis pulled out memories from the past and developed a sense of self worth. They circulated stories of how they were instrumental in civilizing the forest area through which Sukinda could get connected to Cuttack and how they were instrumental in joining together parts of mainland Orissa otherwise dotted with dense forests. They are conscious of their roles as protectors of the forests and conservers of ecology and the environment. It is with such worth in their minds that they wish the present State to deal with them with the dignity they deserve for such historical role.
12. The adivasis sensing that they did not have private ownership rights over land, and all rights of citizenship being shorn off from them as the present government recorded such land as having been cleared, renewed the right to cultivate title awarded to them by the raja of Sukinda in 2009. This is the only assurance that they are the inhabitants of the land.
13. In order to find a wider support for their movement, the Mundas of Sukinda marched towards Nandigram. Many were arrested on the way, questioned and kept in custody. The arrest showed that they were being followed and kept a track of. The government sensing that these tribals were seeking unity across the greater Jharkhand area that included apart from the districts of Jharkhand, adjoining areas from West Bengal and Orissa, harassed and tracked them. Eventually the Mundas from Jajpur did march to Nandigram.
14. Throughout the movement one sees the adivasi’s disillusionment with the presently incumbent State but not with the institution of the State. They imagine that resolution to their problems lie in a strong State, in a strong statesman as Indira Gandhi or Mamata Banerjee, in the return of the British Bengal Presidency, in aligning into a greater Jharkhand under the state of West Bengal and so on. Throughout Jharkhand, in movements in Lohardaga, Gumla and Ranchi, the desire to return to “Bengal Presidency” is very strong among the Jharkhandi tribes.

Breaking of the Movement:
When the Tatas found that the repression of the Kalinganagar movement was costing them their reputation, they resorted to other means of covert suppression.
1. The protestors were dubbed as being Maoists, the children’s schools were marked out as areas of conspiracy and broken down. The children went out of school, idled about the entire day and found easy ways of earning money by supplying alcohol and tobacco to guards of the various steel companies. No private teacher was encouraged to come into this area for the fear of being dubbed as a Maoist and eventually arrested.
2. The Tatas issued cards to the persons who agreed to shift out. Locally these persons are called as the displaced persons or the DPs. While the card ensures them ration, education and health care, the same is totally denied of people who are not with these cards. The non compliant adivasis are denied medical treatment even in the existing primary health care centres and doctors are too scared to treat anyone without the “card” in the fear that he will meet a fate similar to Dr Binayak Sen. Dr Sen’s arrest has been exemplary in the sense it has warned doctors never to treat the adivasis.
3. Tata Steel and other companies have been successful in levelling out land and clearing the forests and thus taking away the space in which the adivasi lives. The forests are important sources of fuel and fodder and also for fruits and medicinal plants. With forests cleared all around, the recalcitrant adivasi families who continue to live in a small patch of a forest are embargoed in.
4. The companies are building roads around the forest dwellers so that they are arrested within their own homes without any exit out into the world.
5. Companies are unleashing goonda terror on the local persons, especially targeted at their young and able bodied men.
6. The adivasis are looked down upon by the Oriya mainstream society and they have had historically conflict ridden relationships and hence they find no support from the Oriya community. The Maobadi is a clever construct of the companies and the police to repel the mainstream society from sympathizing with these people. Even the most progressive intellectuals of villages that are barely ten kilometres away have no clue of how the adivasis live. Conversations with an erudite socialist revealed that he still thought that the adivasis were closer to animals than people and suspected that Maobadis were teaching them; he had no idea that the adivasis have Dish TV connection in their homes in the forest.
7. In the displaced colonies people are kept as if in concentration camps. There is no privacy, no shade of trees, and rooms can look into one another. Women are forced to bathe in full view of public eye and the toilets are located right in front of the gaze of the security guards. This makes bathing, defecating and urinating into a terrifying experience for women and girls. This experience breaks the morale of a people.
8. The menfolk are provided with unemployment doles and promised work in the Tata factory once the factory is in some shape. The dole makes people lazy but it is also used in order for them not to start farming again. In the Lanjigarh displaced colonies managed by Gram Vikas had almost wholly recreated the pristine form of life of the adivasis. Unfortunately, in the Tata’s displaced colonies there was no sign of an NGO who could help rehabilitate the uprooted persons better. Tatas do not encourage adivasis to return to their ways of life even in the displaced colonies; they try to impose one single model forcibly on all persons, a model that has perhaps no scientific basis for development.
9. The displaced colonies are securely guarded, guards are extremely suspicious of any outsider around the premises, and a casual visitor is observed and followed very systematically and even intimidated.
10. By separating completely the displaced persons from the non displaced people, the Tatas have successfully broken the larger community of the Mundas and helped in isolating, alienating and atomising such people, leading to loss of social capital, social accumulation and social opportunities.
11. Historically the Oriya society has had intolerant relationships with the tribals. The mainstream caste society often looked down upon the indigenous persons with contempt, treating them as outsiders and activating processes to purge them out of the land. The indigenous persons are often cast as being ‘non Oriyas’ because they speak different kinds of languages, as non-Hindus and basically as outsiders. Interestingly many tribal communities in Orissa are immigrants into Orissa from Jharkhand,Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and even Gujarat and Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Far from being marginalized persons living in forests, tribal communities in Orissa have often participated in political uprisings, king making and even in some cases around the 11th to the 14th century ruling parts of the state. During the British rule, tribals have intrigued with the British as well as the princely states of Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Puri. Tribals in history have engaged in open warfare with the mainstream society, the latest being the Alephs attack on the Puri temple, the Alephs being a tribal sect from Sambalpur. In fact, unlike in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand the tribals never quite came directly under the British rule since the British rule was more to manage the various princely kingdoms that ruled over tribal lands. In view of such attitude towards the adivasis, one can expect very little by way of informed public opinion.
12. The tribals are themselves a divided lot. The Jharkhandi tribes consisting of the Santhals, Mundas, Hos feel themselves to be superior to the Khands, Kols and others. The Oriya tribals look down upon immigrants from Andhra Pradesh. Such divisions and historical conflicts make it difficult for the Mundas of Jajpur to draw support for their movement from the larger community. This makes the movement isolated and divested of sympathisers.
13. Orissa is a much divided society; caste divisions often run deep. Historically the Oriya society has had many points of power; one was the power of the temple of Jagannath, second was the political power of the state, the third was the moral power of the servitors and priests and the fourth was the cultural power of the educated, many of who were Bengalis who almost colonised Orissa’s elite culture since they migrated with Sri Chaitanya. The predominance of princely kingdoms imply that absolutist power was needed in order to check the social competition and conflict. It is because of this tradition of absolutism that Orissa did not quite develop an open public sphere the way it developed in Bengal. While there had been a literati class through debating societies in Cuttack and Puri and around the printed newspaper and journals, but such a class remained very narrowly focussed since they were mostly employed by the absolutist states. Oriya middle class is today far more comfortable pursuing “contacts” than achieving professional excellence, the latter of which would have made the intellectual more autonomous. The Oriya intelligentsia therefore pursues contacts and hence develops very little pride by way of expressing opinions’ in other words, he is a comprador of the ‘companies”, easily susceptible to bribes. Such a history had almost removed the Oriya middle class intelligentsia into an unquestioning supporter of the powerful instead of being progressive thinkers and left little scope for a civil society to emerge. In absence of a strong civil society, such movements as Kalinganagar could not find sympathisers outside its immediate vicinity.

Wider Society:
Tribals constitute only 30% of the population of Jajpur while the majority consists of mainstream Oriya persons who are peasants. The land acquisition also took away some peasant lands as well. The peasants found it useful to invest in restaurants, transport, repair shops and other similar areas. But soon they realized that investments other than transport business have fewer prospects when compared to their traditional occupation of farming. They also found it harder with the rising food inflation and shooting land prices and realize with each passing day that land alienation after all was not such a good idea. The rising pollution in the industrial cluster now tells on their dry wells, falling levels of ground water, dust and soot and increasing toxicity of soil. Those who continue to farm in Sukinda region feel the pressure of ecological degradation in view of the intense mining in the area. No wonder then the apparent beneficiaries of the project are also turning against the Kalinganagar complex.
The Jajpur cluster is located in the tribal area of Duburi with small subsistence farms with multicropping. Adjacent to Duburi is Sukinda, where lush green paddy fields stretch beyond the visible horizon. This is the area of single crop of rice, usually cultivated for commercial purposes. The land in this area today suffers from falling ground water levels due to over mining in Sukinda and Daitari. Farmers are unhappy with the ecological change, falling land productivity and the rising cost of inputs. The Orissa government has declared that farmers are to receive compensation by way of subsidies on farm inputs, so that what they lose out by way of ecology may be made up by artificial chemical inputs. The impact of such inputs is there for all to see because the newspapers reported the many peacock deaths in Behrampur due to the use of chemical inputs. Farmers in this area have been asked to switch over the organic methods of farming.
Orissa is rampant in illegal mining which implies that the transporters too are embroiled in the same. Since most transporters have been honest and self respecting farmers, it is a strain on them to work for mineral smugglers. In the tea stalls there are conversations on the movement of cargo which are mostly iron ore and sponge iron, of how they are going to be stacked in the godowns of Haldia for purposes of speculation. There are conversations of how the pollution control board officers, even when they are not corrupt are not vigilant enough to recognize environmental pollution. The black soot on leaves of trees is a cause of concern as such soot eventually impedes the ears of grain from paddy to emerge out. Pollution is connected to illegal mining which is in turn connected to the corruption of the political regime.
Another set of beneficiaries are the white collared plant employees. They too are a disillusioned lot. Steel plants are busier in illegal mining and selling of sponge iron and iron ore than in making steel. Plant schedules are erratic and plants remain closed for most part of the year; all employment is through the contractors, labourers have little rights and are dismissed at will. Salaries are generally low with little increments and promotions. The officers are forced to undertake illegal transactions for benami companies that exist only in paper and then blackmailed by the company that should they leave their services they should be jailed. Recently, an Essar Steel executive was accused of being in league with the Maoists; the employees tell that this is a ploy to force people into service albeit with poor facilities and stagnant pay.
The executives are educated middle class, proud of their professional degrees and they become disillusioned, their self worth suffers when they are forced to carry out illegal work. In a newspaper report on the scrap dump yard near the fertilizer unit of the Rourkela Steel Plant, it seems that the labour contractors force workers to do illegal work such as stealing scrap out of the plant. Across Orissa, labour contractors are also criminals, engaging in illegal mining, illegal trading and so on and forcing labourers to comply. There is a criminalization of the society which has led to extended sense of despondency. Mental depression, ennui, laziness, apathy to work is widespread not only among the poorer classes but also among the respectable middle class. The morale of the society is sinking with each passing day. Unethical business that takes land away from the people has other unethical practices as well, which demoralizes the professionals employed as engineers, doctors and managers of the plant.
Newspapers in Orissa are curious with reports on the growing slums in the cities, especially in Bhubaneswar; food insecurity, land alienation, loss of subsistence farming and ecological disaster is spelling a doom on livelihoods across the state and the neoliberal development policies of the government where handing over land and mineral resources of the state alone constitutes development.
The pattern of economic growth which is based on brokerage, contacts with various kinds of people in high positions creates a space for unethical business practices. Since aligning with such illegalities pays off materially and there is hardly any space for those beyond such businesses to prosper, an overwhelming portion of the respectable middle class is engaged in helping unethical businesses. This has destroyed the moral confidence of the intelligentsia, most evident in the falling cultural and aesthetic standards of the society. Garish clubs, hotels, pompous celebrations of Kumar purnima, clashes over Durga Puja are signs of an ostentatious, competitive society decaying with an alarming rapidity.
Evidences of torture of women in the hands of in laws appear to be common not only in the lower classes but among the educated persons as well. This and the widespread displacement has made prostitution rampant in the state so much so that the government has had to declare a policy on the prostitutes where they will be treated at par with the poorest of poor.

1. It will be wrong to imagine that the State is challenged in any of these movements. In fact the State is expected to perform a much larger role which it is not performing.
2. These movements are nationalist in nature with enough historical pride as to the community’s contribution to the making of Orissa.
3. There is also a need to reach out to greater Jharkhand and migrate into the erstwhile territory of the Bengal Presidency. Ecology seems to underlie politics.
4. Resistance movements are also strong environment movements; not only for the adivasis but also for the wider society. Pollution and immorality are seen to be connected.
5. The immorality which alienates the adivasis also alienates the wider population and it is the unethical business practices that have ripped through the moral fibre of an entire society. Unethical business is producing mental depression, alienation, isolation, distress, ennui and apathy.
6. The lack of a strong civil society and instead a culture based upon contacts has led to a vacuum in the social consciousness of the intelligentsia which helps the State to push its one sided policies without being critiqued and challenged in the media.

About secondsaturn

Independent Scholar. Polymath.
This entry was posted in Travelogues and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s