Globalization and its impact can be seen and felt in every nook and corner
of India. Adivasis have already lost their control over land, forest and
water as the mining industries are aggressively moving into their regions.
Farmers are losing their land everyday for industrialization and
infrastructural development. Water sources are drying up as the cities are
demanding more water and the industries are sucking up every drop of water.
Rivers are completely polluted by sewage from cities and effluents from
factories. Of course this is one side of the picture. Promoters and
propagators of the present day development paradigm will show the other
side where everything is glittery. Ekta Parishad critiques this model of
development and as a result is focused on resisting globalization through
action at the grassroots.
Ekta Parishad begins its work from a statement of Mahatma Gandhi where he
says “the focus of all your activities should be poorest and weakest” and
his larger philosophy of Sarvodaya is about building a
bottom-up socio-political-economic order that puts the well-being of the last as the first priority.
This is the driving philosophy whereby we want to begin at the bottom and
slowly empower and organize people socially, politically and economically.
Ekta Parishad has adopted a two-fold strategy in its approach. On the one
side, we are trying to resist the onslaught of global forces through
struggle and dialog and on the other hand we are constantly in a process of
coordinating and strengthening the economy of the people so that they can
make a living based on their skills, capacities and resources without
migrating into cities and slums. A statement like this may sound easy but
it is an ongoing battle almost everyday.
Having worked at the national level for policy change for so many years, we
now feel that a lot more energy needs to be spent at the grassroots level
to create the economic power that will allow people to stay on and resist.
This is the thinking behind our strategy “Back to the Roots” This strategy
was adopted also because of the impact of our struggles: many people have
got control over land as a result of policy shift at the top. Hence
retaining the land, developing the land and making it productive enough in
a sustainable way is the next stage of our struggle. To advance this agenda
we have created an Arthik Manch or Economic Forum, which is a forum that
focuses on the economic dimension of rural India. The forum is now
exploring various possibilities like strengthening the economy through land
related activities, forest and forest produce related activities and also
cottage industry based activities.
There is an interesting realization in the organization that it is not only
important to create wealth but also important to plug the leakage of money
from villages i.e., the money that is leaving the village due to consumption
of unnecessary goods. In the coming days, Ekta Parishad will be conducting
important studies in relation to plugging leakages. We have also realized that
there is a lot of limitation if we want to play in the market place. Market being so
aggressive, every penny that people earn, gets spent on items that may not
be their real need but are perceived as important needs. The desire to show
the world that we are advancing by acquiring objects that are not
necessarily based on need but are based on greed and to establish a social
standing is causing money to go out of the village. We know that this is a
deeper area of analysis and in a world where media is powerful and
television has reached every village it will be difficult for most people
to truly understand this. We believe that it is only through greater levels
of understanding and enlightenment, we can really plug the outflow of money
from the villages.
Arthik Manch will be working on 3 levels: 1) providing necessary resources,
skills and capacities to organize the village economy based on local
resources and local capacities 2) empowering people to understand the need
and methods to plug the leakage 3) to have a greater understanding of
global economy and market forces and think of strategies to deal with it.
We believe that if we are able to work at these three levels, we will be
able to introduce the idea of local currency. The larger goal of this
process is to strengthen Localization to resist Globalization. Even though
Mahatma Gandhi spoke about this in his idea of Gram Swaraj (Village
Autonomy), these ideas are today finding greater acceptance and resonance
in the international development discourse.
Criticizing global process or analyzing global process will have its own
place but what is more important is to strengthen local economy and help
people to resist the global process in order to protect their own social,
cultural, economic and political freedom and space. In the coming years,
Ekta Parishad would like to work in this direction. At the moment, we are
exploring partnerships with as many organizations and individuals who are
interested in this process. The idea of localization process gives
tremendous scope for all kinds of organizations and individuals to get
involved: localization of education, food, culture, agriculture, industry
etc. Each one can find a field according to their interest and Ekta
Parishad would like to keep our doors open for all kinds of
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First Published on Ekta Parishad website
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