Total BS

This BS story caught my eye: “Govt against consent of tribals for displacement” .  It has received effusive praise from Adarsh Liberals such as Ram Guha:

The story makes sweeping assertions with zilch evidence. Sampler:

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) (government) … is working to do away with the need for consent from tribals, while handing over their traditional forests to industry.

The writer of the story, one Nitin Seth, shows promise. He should win the Goebbels Prize for Journalism some day.

The facts of the case seem to be as follows.

Creeping environmentalism is knocking at the doors of World Bank too. Yes, the same institution that commies were railing against as an imperial force. The bank is circulating a draft set of rules that borrower countries must follow where the funded project is deemed to have an environmental impact. This draft is called “Environmental and Social Framework”.  India has studied the draft proposal and communicated its feedback to the bank. The BS story is a spin on this feedback.

The bank proposes, in Standard 7 (“ESS 7”) of the framework (subtitled “Indigenous Peoples”) that the borrowing government must obtain “free, prior and informed consent” of “indigenous peoples” affected by the funded project by way of land acquisition, and/or relocation and/or impact to “cultural heritage”.  This is the clause that Indian government has objected to. India’s concerns are as follows:

1. Domestic laws of borrower country must take precedence over World Bank’s conditions. (Principle of sovereignty). Also, non-application of domestic laws would result in litigation.

2. The bank cannot presume that it knows better than the borrowing country’s elected government as to how to safeguard the well-being of the country’s peoples (sovereignty again).

3. There is asymmetry in these conditions, because they are not binding on  donor countries

4. World Bank must not lose sight of  its principal goal, which is elimination of poverty, not environmental activism. The bank must also remain apolitical.

Actually, that’s a simplified summary of India’s well-argued response, which is available in full here.

Now, what domestic laws of India are at variance with World Bank’s ESS 7? The proposed amendment to Land Acquisition Act, for sure. But the amendment doesn’t specifically “target” tribals. It excludes several other laws, including Forest Rights Act (another one of Sonia NAC’s assaults on India’s development), from the purview of Land Acquisition Act when land is being acquired for any of five purposes: a) national security, defence, defence production b) rural infrastructure c) housing for the poor d) industrial corridors and e) infrastructure. This exclusion does not mean that land (of anyone: yours, mine or tribals’) will be acquired through coercion, but only that consent will be obtained through negotiation and consultation, and that some stringent requirements (such as that 80% of the affected population must consent to acquisition)  will be relaxed.

In other words, if the BS spinmeister wanted to spread the canard that Modi government is anti-tribals, he need not wave a World Bank document; he might just as well use the proposed Land Acquisition Amendment Bill. So why did he plug the document of an imperialist force?

The clue is in the story. There’s a quote from Amnesty International condemning the Indian government’s stand, and we are told that “Amnesty has been tracking the debate on the World Bank safeguards and environmental policy”.

Do you smell a plant? I smell a rat. This is how, it seems, India’s arms are being twisted in the “environment” debate. Use “indigenous journalists” who toe the line of big powers, while piously claiming to speak for our tribals.

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