Earthly Goods: Environmental Change and Social Justice

By Fen Osler Hampson; Judith Reppy | Go to book overview

7
Social Movements,
Ecology, and Justice

SMITU KOTHARI

ACROSS much of the planet, the developmentalist regime of the past five decades has sharpened the contradiction between those who have benefited from it and those who have become its victims. Structural and social inequity, both within and between nations, and the politics of natural resource use are at the core of this polarization. Stated differently, in a stratified world, natural resource extraction continues to be controlled by and primarily benefits the privileged few, resulting in the increasing marginalization of millions dependent on these natural resources not only for their subsistence but also as a source of their identity. Global cultural and economic hegemony is flattening diversity—biological and cultural.

Throughout the Third World and also in industrialized countries, unequal control over productive assets continues.In India in 1990, for instance, the bottom zo percent of people owned less than I percent of the assets, while the top 10 percent owned more than 50 percent.This reality is mirrored across the world in both the industrialized and less industrialized countries. Another illustrative case is the 60 million tribal people in India, who come from 212 different cultural groups. They are among the worst victims of uneven development. Most of the mining, hydroelectric, and industrial development has been implemented on their lands. 1 Planned development has, since Independence, forcibly displaced 15 percent of the entire tribal populace, making

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1
Ghanshyam, " Sustainable Development: Going Back to the Roots" ( Madhupur, Bihar: Lok Jagriti Kendra, 1992, mimeographed); Janardhan Rao and G. Hargopal, " Adivasis in India: Transition and Development," Lokayan Bulletin 8, no. 6 ( 1990): 39-57.

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