2005-03:The Leviathan in India and the resistance of adivasis and dalits against bauxite-mining in Kashipur

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The Leviathan in India and the resistance of adivasis and dalits against bauxite-mining in Kashipur

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Kuchaipadar is the name of a village in Kashipur block of Rayagada District in the State of Orissa in India. This is a village which has been at the forefront of the resistance against the Bauxite mining and processing. This bauxite mining project will poison and pollute the waters, destroy the hills and nature completely and uproot them and destroy the tribal way of life completely and push them to migrate to cities where they will become the lowest of the low, the most humiliated, exploited, repressed, deprived section. They began their resistance in 1993 when they came to know about this mining venture. At that time Indalco and Tata and Norsk Hydro had formed UAIL (Utkal Aluminia Ltd). Indal is now owned by Hindalco which is owned by Birla group. For many decades Tata and Birla were the biggest business group in India and even now they are one of the biggest. Norsk Hydro is the third biggest Aluminium company in the world after Alcoa and Alcan.

Over the years the resistance grew bigger and bigger and the tribal people from many villages became part of it. In 1998 Dec 1999 Jan I went there for the first time. It was an intense experience for me (where I came to like them). The moment I came there with my friends also from the cities, I could feel the difference instantly. The difference between how people live in civilized, thoroughly statised villages and towns and how tribal people live. Even though much of the tribal way of life was corroded through decades of statist interference, manipulation and domination, through decades of statist pillage and destruction, through the forcible entry of market in their lives and where they were pushed to the normal civilized way of living that is the struggle for survival, the open secret of civilized way of life, inspite of all this what remained of the tribal way of life(which was more in the interior villages and less in villages like Kuchaipadar which is directly on the main road cutting through the region)was touching and beautiful.

The openness which is characteristic of them, their desire to share with us what they had, the warmth and caring which they showered on us, their beautiful dancing and singing, the magical beat of the drums and the lovely tap of their feet, the beautiful movement of their body, the sweet lovely way in which young men and women could openly reach out to each other, that the women could move about without fear (even though decades of statism had gone about trying to destroy all this) - all this touched me deeply in my being. This was not the first time I was in a tribal area.

I had experienced some or all of it before in other areas where I heard in songs their deep felt grief and sense of loss which was coming from the realization that their deep connection to nature, the peaceful generous nature was being destroyed for ever, that their life was being violently changed from outside for ever against their own wishes and desire.

In 2000 Dec the tribal and also Dalit people in Kashipur under the banner of Prakrut Sampad Suraksha Parishad(PSSP) (Translated it means Natural Resources Protection Organisation) were preparing for big protests for road blockade in continuing protests against this bauxite mining processing venture. On 15th December the ruling political party with support from other ruling class political parties tried to forcibly organize a meeting mostly with outsiders brought in vehicles in support of the bauxite mining at village Maikanch.

The people in Maikanch protested vigorously against this, saying that such meetings cannot be held in their villages against their wishes by outsiders. The people drove them out of there. Next day armed police came there and started firing on the people. All the men were running away into the hills. Women and some young men who remained behind protested and tried to stop the violent police intent on killing. They were beaten up and threatened with death by the police who continued to fire with the rifles into the hills, wanting to hunt the men down.

Three tribal men were shot dead and dozens of people suffered bullet injuries and then the police continued in the next days to terrorize the people. But the undaunted Tribal people in their thousands came through the night to the road according to previously decided programme of protest and converged and blocked the road at Rabkana. The attempt to smash the resistance with mass repression and terror was given a fitting answer. Within a year Norsk Hydro went out of the venture. They faced some pressure possibly from sections of the Church in Norway and they possibly realized that the resistance in Kashipur could not be so easily overcome inspite of repression from the State in India.

It was a small victory for their resistance. Small because UAIL was restructured. Tatas had already left the project in 1998. Hindalco and Alcan became now the full stockholders in UAIL after Norsk Hydro went out. The machines of death and destruction just would not stop. Most people in the cities don´t care about what happens to the tribal people. In fact a lot of them, the white collared sections, are active supporters of the politics of death and destruction. In most papers small and big, the journalists spew venom against the resistance. They get their palms greased by the moneypower of Alcan-Hindalco and serve their masters the corporations, the ruling class parties and their own self-interests and ambitions of living materially rich, which is but a totally empty life.

Those who are powerless, the 100´s of millions of poor and hungry pushed to brink of survival, hardly are in a situation to do anything actively in solidarity with others who are resisting the death march of the industrial society. We live in a postmodern world where the leviathan and its technology are destroying every other way of life totally, are destroying us and the whole nature from outside and deeply invading us through its genetic engineering, cybernetics and biotechnology etc...An empty barren poisoned existence.

In this world, in some corner tribal people who lived for 100´s of generations without destroying nature and themselves, who knew free life and peaceful existence, a life as part of nature, are fighting to protect and defend whatever is left of this way of life. This way of life which is facing a war against it from civilization and is today only a pale reminder of a previous way of life, whose fabric has ripped apart and torn asunder, inspite of all the pillage, destruction by statist civilized forces and institutions, is still freer and more egalitarian and peaceable as compared to any civilized statist community anywhere.

To greater or lesser degree so is the situation with Bushmen in Kalahari (Africa) or the varied tribes in Brazil or in India or wherever else. In the years after the so called independence, the Indian State has been a regime of destruction and genocide against the tribal communities in India.

The policy of colonization which was already there in Indian Civilization before the British State colonized much of Asia, continued now after 1947 with the unprecedented death march in the traditions of British Colonialism. There have been resistance again and again from the tribal communities to the European project of completly statising, marketising, colonising every corner of the whole world.

This resistance of the tribal communities along with dalits in Kashipur to this Bauxite mining processing project is going on in this era of total globalization of State/ Capital/ Market. Since December 1st 2004 following this policy the State of Orissa has launched a sustained campaign of mass repression and terror in Kashipur. They have stationed 800 or more armed paramilitary forces there. On 1st December they started a construction of a barrack for these forces, a new police station and a building for UAIL. All these years the resistance had prevented any construction by UAIL and also police station near Kuchaipadar.

Now with this overwhelming apparatus of terror, they have been able to start this. Old people, children, young people who resisted on 1st December, were beaten cruelly, arrested and put in jail. Since then these forces of terror and death have been marching through the whole area terrorising the people, forcing them to sign papers that they want the bauxite mining processing venture. People who try to gather to discuss the situation are threatened, terrorised, beaten, arrested.

People there still tried to resist the road widening which is crucial to the monster machines to go through to the hills and for the transport of massive amount of materials for construction of the processing factory and the transport of the mined bauxite and so on. The Chief Minister of Orissa stated to the press that the criminals who are opposed to the development should be taught a lesson and that no opposition to industrial development will be tolerated.

The media, the politicians, the hangers´ on of the Aluminium corporations spread the lie that it is only due to instigation by some outsider criminal elements that the tribal communities are being misled. It is ironic and brazen that these forces propagate that foreign funds are behind the resistance of the tribal people and whipped up a campaign against foreigners behind the resistance, when Alcan (Canada) the 2nd biggest Alu multinational corporation in the world, owns 45 % stakes in UAIL! This absurd claim that foreigners are conspiring to block industrialization in India is dished out and lapped up by the educated classes, who have themselves a key stake in this death march of industrialisation.

The situation in Kashipur is now very critical. The small solidarity groups in some cities of Orissa and in the rest of India, the published reports of various human rights groups who visited the area, the moral support of various organizations and prominent individuals and also a solidarity campaign in the last two years called "Alcant in India" in Canada has not been able to kick Alcan and UAIL out of Kashipur and stop this reign of terror. That is why the need to organize solidarity with the resistance here in Germany and in Europe before the bauxite mining starts and the resistance and their whole way of life is destroyed.

In tribal areas within 100kms of Kashipur two other bauxite mining ventures by other corporations from Britain is relentlessly marching on, where repression and terror from the beginning has undermined resistance. Apart from this are many other giant industrialising venture underway in Orissa, the new crucible of globalisation in India.

Shankar Narayanan

english version of the artikel from graswuzelrevolution, november 2005 / Nr. 303