Business, Economics and Jobs

Quit India? The country's new colonizers are Indians, too.


Villagers in India’s Eastern State of Jharkhand scavenge coal illegally from open-cast coal mines to earn a few dollars a day. If not for the government's wholesale appropriation of their ancestral lands, however, the lot of it would belong to them.


Daniel Berehulak

India could use a voice like the late Gil Scott-Heron. Why? With all the backslapping about freedom fighters like Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, hardly anybody is paying attention as the government takes over as India's new colonizer.

In "Black History," Scott-Heron writes:

First, white folks discovered Africa
and they claimed it fair and square.
Cecil Rhodes couldn't have been robbing nobody
'cause he said there was nobody there.
White folks brought all the civilization,
since there wasn't none around.
They said 'how could these folks be civilized
when you never see nobody writing nothing down?'

You might say India's revisionism is even worse, points out activist Richard Toppo. At least Rhodes was a product of his time. But India's new colonizers are spouting the same nonsense, even as they take credit for "freeing" the nation.

"Almost a century ago, Katherine Mayo published a book titled ‘Mother India’ that criticized the Indian way of living, and Rudyard Kipling spoke of the ‘White Man’s Burden,'" Toppo writes for "These writings reflected the colonial perspective that what colonizers did was in the best interest of the colonized people. Consequently, most well-meaning citizens of colonial powers were alienated from the horrible plight of the colonized. Purpose well served – unopposed exploitation."

And now?

"Years later, independent India seems to walk the same line."

Born out of a movement to protect tribal peoples from discrimination in 2000, the new state of Jharkhand has displaced some 6.5 million of those very same people in the name of "development" -- meaning mines, for the most part. All the rights enshrined for the tribal people are habitually ignored. Hardly any "progress" comes for them as a result of the minerals that the state steals from their land. And when Maoists rebel against the state, frustrated soldiers grab the first tribals they come upon (colonialist-style), turning a supposed fight against an insurrection into a punitive expedition.

Definitely worth a read.