Monday, October 16, 2006

Are SEZs Special Exploitation Zones?

How can any economic development work be termed as anti-people? There is a big conflict of interests which has drawn battle lines between the opposing groups. It is axiomatic that more economic development will result in higher standard of living and one may readily agree that every nation ought to pursue such a goal. But such developments impose a social cost. If the benefits are going to be shared only by a minority and the majority is left high and dry, then they may be paradoxically called anti-people.
The government and policymakers are euphoric about Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which are being viewed as panacea for accelerated development. Simultaneously, there has been a growing opposition to setting up SEZs as it is feared that it would cause large human migration and environmental damage. Ms Medha Patkar - the noted social activist, who brought the mighty authorities to their knees by her fast unto death campaign over her strong opposition to the building of Narmada dam, has aired her scathing criticism against SEZ policy.Ms Patkar, while addressing the inaugural session of a two day national convention on “Globalization and Fast Industrialization versus Alternative Development Model” said that the current process of industrialization amounted to massacre of a minority by a majority that thrived with the use of force to suppress poor. She termed these SEZs as Special Exploitation Zones and warned that the three most backward states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattishgarh are going be exploited to the hilt by the MNCs.
It is generally accepted that with growing population, more jobs need to be created to feed more mouths. But in trying to do so, the interest of the masses should be weighed against the profits of individual companies and the limited benefit by way of employment generation. Then who should have the final say? In a democratic setup, the people's voices should always prevail. But when there are many interest groups - some illiterate and unable to comprehend the full implications, the vested interests can tilt the balance between development benefits and social costs.
Then should industrialisation be stopped?

2 comments:

Hiren said...

One has to do a balancing act all right but one has to get all the facts at arriving a decision and somebody like Medha Patkar also has to see the things from an overall perspective instead of jumping at every leadership opportunity that comes along.

Satish said...

It is unfortunate that only Medha Patkars succeed in hijacking issues rather than their balanced and dispassionate evaluation.