On the 3rd of February 2015, the Department of Political Science held a talk by Gautam Navalakha on the topic ‘Indian state-Development and Democratic dissent’. Mr. Navalakha is a civil liberties, democratic and human rights activist; and a journalist. He is engaged with PUDR and works as an editorial consultant of the Economic and Political Weekly.
Mr. Navalakha spoke about the two conceptions of development, one from the above (propagated by the government) and the other from below. He mentioned how the two are contradictory to each other. He explained this by citing several examples such as the POSCO project and the agitation against it. He spoke of how even the Ministry of Environment and Forest actively suppress the works of environmentalists in order to allow environmentally degrading development projects to take place. Mr. Navalakha brought to our notice that the concept of ‘Competitive Federalism’ often leads poorer states to make compromises by weakening Labour laws, diluting land acquisition laws and environmental standards. Mr. Navalakha ended his talk by asking us a very pertinent question-‘what is the Indian State and who does the state really represent?’
– Neha Dewan