Standing on the bridge over river Sabarmati in Ahmedabad today gives a completely different feeling than what Gandhi would have felt while living in his Ashram during those days. The river is being tamed by the faithful guards of capital. A seasonal river has been made into a perennial one through diversion of water from Narmada. Why not, a beautiful river bank will always get more buyers, better real estate developers, and in effect an additional space for odyssey of market. As construction continues with the riverbed being transformed into a gigantic concrete slab, one could hardly see any water in the river as the two sides of it resemble an upcoming giant concrete demon that would gobble up the wild, free and liberated of a river. Yes, it symbolises what capital, in its insatiable frenzy of transforming every possible space into a commodity, can do.
But why should one be perturbed by it? There is hardly any resistance to what is being done. And one day one would jump in ecstasy standing on the banks looking at the reflection of huge billboards in water of Sabarmati inviting us to be drenched in the frenzy of market. We would narrate to everybody how beautiful the city of Ahmedabad has become, willfully ignorant of the deep seated religious polarisation in terms of spaces in the city or unaware of ghettoisation of the city along class lines.
After all, the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation is claiming to usher in a new phase in the life of the city. It says that “The riverfront project creates intrinsic value for all residents of Ahmedabad by making the banks of the Sabarmati free and accessible to the public. The river banks will evolve continually, adapting to the diverse interests of a rapidly transforming city”. Think for yourself, how lost we are in the frenzy of market, self absorbed, self-besotted, forgetting what is actually happening in the name of ‘public access’ and ‘public space’.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER – Development, Identity and Violence: Reconfiguring the Debate Edited by Ravi Kumar (Aakar Books, Delhi, 2010)
- Introduction – Ravi Kumar
- Thinking through Urban Debris: Violence, Terror and the State – Nandita Badami and Anirban Nigam
- Through and Beyond: Identities and Class Struggle – Paresh Chandra
- “No Rehabilitation” is ecocide and genocide: Is there possibility of Hope? – Savyasaachi
- Ventilating Predicament of Development: New Economic Enclaves and Structural Violence in India – Manisha Tripathy Pandey
- The Artifice of Modernity in Nation-building: Analyzing the Case of “Postcolonial” Northeast India – Neikolie Kuotsu
- Developing Bastar: The Dandakaranya Project – Saagar Tiwari
Glancing at the plethora of works produced in this direction over the last decade, displacement and violence seem the most popular characters of a much-debated, possibly over-debated area. Displacement has existed for centuries – for instance, kings would displace people from forests to convert the forests into hunting-grounds. But something about displacement today, makes it starkly different from the kinds that have existed so far. Perhaps, this difference can be understood keeping in mind the nature of modern nations which have emerged from the ashes of colonial empires, and have tried to ground themselves in the legacy of liberal democracy and the various other state-centric (people friendly?) paradigms of governance. The displacement of peoples from their areas of habitation under the garb of “development” can be seen across the history of Independent India; hopes of the people have been buried under the foundations of the “Temples of Modern India” which have been “constructed” one after the other, even as the state has continuously claimed to represent the interests of these very people. Of course, the nature and the degree of pretensions have changed, from the welfarist state to the neoliberal state…
That the instruments of imparting education extend beyond the classical notions of classroom learning is a fact few can disagree with today. It is, however, not enough to realise that the process of educating a human being transcends the limited universe of whatever form of formalised institution of teaching-learning transactions and is finally linked to the approach that one adopts to comprehend the processes of knowledge formation. This process of education is also closely linked to the desires of the dominant social structures to limit our view of the complex processes of knowledge creation. A limited and fragmented view of the world not only hides the systemic contradictions but also makes possible a process of regimentation. For instance, one can never fully appreciate the fact that the elite castes of India – not unlike the entrenched hegemonic class interests in any social order – need to segment the processes of education so that it in turn sustains the segmentation of the social order. Not unless one overcomes one’s ideological myopia to grasp the link between the processes of knowledge production in a society and its larger logic of production. It is this myopia that compels us to explain the teacher-taught relationship through the undemocratic metaphor of teacher as god. It is the intrinsic uncritical appeal of such a metaphor that leads us even today to claim that the teacher reveals the path to the kingdom of god. And it is this belief in the existence of a particular kind of system that celebrates the existence of gods – which bases itself on uncriticality and opposition to dissent, and concomitant subordination to spiritual and/or temporal authorities – that is responsible for our failure to understand how, for example, the Dronacharya-Eklavya relationship, by virtue of it being embedded in class-caste relations, is an expression of the segmentation of society along class lines through segmentation of education. And this holds true as much for ancient India, as for us in our times, wherein a vision of understanding educational processes as going beyond classroom and institutionalised structures is seldom encouraged. Even if it is done the connections between the mode of production and educational systems is rarely explored.
Read the whole article at Radical Notes