What they call “Economic Development” in Gujarat

They say that we have the bridges and the flyovers and running buses. They say that we have garbage collectors that do collections from the door every morning, something so magical to be an act delivered by a governing body. They say that justice should be put to death so that we can all bathe ourselves in our own money, while “our women are safe”. Which women are they talking about I fail to understand, for I can tell from my own story that while growing up in a rich Hindu neighborhood, I have had policemen try to sexually assault me. So we can only contemplate what the condition of women in the ghettos of Ahmedabad is, the regions that our Monsieur M. has turned blind to.

A government is a body that is supposed to deliver. It is almost sad that we find ourselves so bewildered when the government delivers. And the government is not supposed to advertise that it delivers. It is its responsibility. It is like moving around advertising that the dogs have begun to bark and that we should forget that they bit us. The dogs were supposed to bark anyway, and it has no correlation with us being bit by them. Non-delivery of justice is beyond material responsibilities of the government. Let us not forget that a democracy, what we like to happily call our nation, does not come from the government picking your garbage cans everyday. It comes when you consider that act as a normal act of duty from the government, while knowing that what we are looking for is the foundational “post-material” values, which, as Inglehart puts it, is a set of values emphasizing autonomy and self-expression. We are looking for equality and freedom, protected though justice.

What is being greatly overlooked in this vague identity-creation by the current government in Gujarat is justice. We are overlooking the geographical divides that are being crystallized everyday to create a very sensitive and explosive stage that could potentially lead to worse communal violence then what we have seen so far. We are overlooking the patterns of where the “growth” is taking place, from where families are uprooted from their small houses and forced to settle in areas which shelter families similar to them in their economic and religious categories. This is only going to lead to increased segregation, and hence more tensions. We already have segregated schools where segregation is based not only on religion, but also the sect and creed you belong to. Sadly, many of these divisions also correspond to the economic divisions, with the Muslim minorities being forced to go to schools that do not have an incentive to provide quality education. We are programming ourselves to function in this segregation, with no public space where these differences intersect and interact. Our gardens and public spaces are sold off for malls to be built. Public goods are becoming private and with privatization there comes the increased “religious” lobbying and ugly nepotism. What economic development are we leading ourselves to?

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About Shreya Parikh

I am Shreya. Project Rethought is my attempt to rethink my own observations as a brown woman of Indian origin. I currently live in Paris where I teach at Sciences Po Paris and Parsons Paris-The New School.
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