Development and Resistance in India
In popular discourse development means change and also implies betterment. The term is associated with a sense of optimism and expectation of progress for society and of improvement in the human condition. The fruits of development are potentially manifold and have included advances in medicine and education. However, the process of development is rarely without its costs (witness the contemporary debates on the earth's environment.). This is as true for the West (both historically and contemporarily) as it is currently for states in the so-called developing world who have adopted, in some form, Western models of development.
In India, since Independence, the process of development has been undertaken in order to enjoy the perceived fruits of economic progress, but it has also been accompanied by enormous human and ecological costs. In response to these costs myriad ethnic, caste, class and community groups have attempted varied forms of resistance in order to vitiate against, or indeed prevent, what are seen as the destructive effects of development. Many of these resistances also represent, and indeed articulate, alternative views and models of development. Many propose traditional systems of knowledge, ecologically sustainable economies and the maintenance of local culture, all of which tend to stand in opposition to the changes wrought by modern development.
In this chapter I explore these processes within the context of contemporary India in order to provide the context in which the case studies of this book, the Baliapal and Chipko movements, emerged.