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  • houndbee
  • Posted: SwB Team
  • Dated: 02 May , 2008
  • Responses: 0

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

No, this is not about the children’s classic.

Many of you will know of the Panos Institutes. Their agenda- a difficult one at the best of times- is to “work to ensure that information is effectively used to foster public debate, pluralism and democracy”. Panos works with media and other information actors to enable developing countries to shape and communicate their own development agendas through informed public debate, focusing on “amplifying the voices of the poor and marginalized”. Well worth pursuing…

An issue that is poorly understood by most of us is that of mining. Beyond having a gut feeling that strip mining is “bad” and that most miners work in the most miserable conditions. And that it is environmentally unwise. Beyond that, it is also clear that in India, the resource rich states of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh are, by most other indicators, backward and underdeveloped. Why? What is the system of governance that so blatantly “allows the ruthless exploitation of a defenceless people for the benefit of the privileged”?

Caterpillar and the Mahua flower: Tremors in India’s mining fields, a book that can be downloaded free from the Panos South Asia website “seeks to unravel the labyrinth of mining through its publication. One of the most incongruous faces of India’s modern, globalised economy is to be seen in the country’s mineral-rich states like Orissa and Chhattisgarh. As multinational conglomerates walk away with state blessings to prospect for resources under the earth, the original custodians of the land, the Adivasis find that their homes and livelihoods are being bulldozed to make way for industries. While the lavish lifestyles of the mining moguls are chronicled in minute detail, the struggle of the Adivasis seldom gets the attention it deserves.”

This book is a compilation of thirteen essays that seeks to correct this anomaly by examining the manner in which mining has ripped apart the ecological, cultural and social fabric that holds Adivasi communities together. The murky and underhand state-industry nexus that allows mining companies to function despite blatantly violating rules while also recording the popular Adivasi resistance movements that have sprung up in these parts is also covered in the book.

Caterpillar and the Mahua flower endeavours to illuminate the dark corners of India’s mining corridor, and hopes to provoke debate and action. The book, outcome of a project funded by the Swedish International Development Agency, is free for download. Printed copies cost Rs 150. ISBN 978-99933-766-7-5.

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