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Neo-Colonisation: Is India Practising What It Preaches?

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By Anonna Dutt:

150 years of British rule changed India completely. India had been left in shambles. But, the Indians did not stop, they persevered and worked hard and finally we have an India that is competing in the world market. And yet, all along we have been going on, criticising the Britishers and discussing how wrong it was on their part to acquire colonies and exploit their resources.

But isn’t India being a hypocrite here? Isn’t it contradicting its own words? A wave of what economists now call “Neo—colonisation” has hit India and has hit it really hard. In a bid to fulfil their personal desires, corporates are buying large amounts of land in other countries. What is all the more surprising is that the Indian Government is actually supporting them by giving them subsidies for their “Foreign Ventures”.

Karuturi Global, the largest flower producer in the world, could not get enough land in India to cultivate flowers for its market share. So what did it do? It leased some 1,200 square miles of land in Ethiopia. V G Siddhartha, Head of the Cafe Coffee Day chain, has leased 1.85 million hectares of Amazonian forest land in Guyana, South America to run a furniture business in India.

Mostly, now Indian Industries are moving out to South American and African Countries like Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Madagascar. The basic reason for this kind of acquisition is population explosion, food shortage around the globe, rise in food price and the growing desires of a few corporates. To Indians, who do not have to bear the result of their deeds, Africa is just a low-cost, high-efficiency business place. What do we have to say about the Britishers now?

In 2008, Ethiopia faced an acute food shortage; over six million people were starving and the reason for food shortage – Less rainfall. But somehow, miraculously, it was possible for India to cultivate crops on the Ethiopian land, during the same period. Does it sound somewhat similar to the Bengal Famines?

When faced with the charges of Indian Government supporting the new type of colonisation, this is what Mr. Sharad Pawar, Union Agriculture Minister, had to say “Some companies are interested in buying agricultural land in other countries for sugarcane and then selling it on the international markets. It’s business, nothing more,

The sad story continues further still, this kind of acquisition is not restricted to farmland only. Ravi Ruia, an Indian Billionaire, owns coal mines in Mozambique, oil refinery in Kenya and a call centre in South Africa. Bharati Airtel, India’s largest cell phone provider, in June gave a price of $9 billion for African Cellular operations of Kuwait’s Zain. Videocon Industries paid $330 million for two coal mines in Mozambique.

These are just some of the examples; there are many more that portray the sad story of Neo-colonisation. This is actually the time when we need to look back to our own past and see what oppressions we faced as a colony. Then we might just come back from our reverie and realize, what we are doing to the less developed countries is wrong and at some point it has to stop. And we have to stop it, so why not take a step towards it?

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  1. Poonam

    I don’t think I agree with the above comment. It is unfair to compare business with the Britishers who were out to rule the world. They treated Indians badly and in the name of trust committed acts of atrocities. All these colonies were under the British Raj (namely the Queen) therefore East India Company was no private company but belonged to the government of Britain. Today, these companies are of the private sector and it is not the wish of Indians to rule the world. It is only their wish to become as prosperous as they were before. And that is not wrong. If we sit back and tweedle our thumbs the British or Americans will take over and commit worse atrocities. Please do not see negativity in everything.

    1. Anonna Dutt

      I totally agree with you when you say now the companies are private and they want to make profit… There is nothing wrong in wanting to make profit … what is wrong, is the cost at which it is being done … Just for the benefit of our Entrepreneurs the farmers over there are growing cotton when they themselves have nothing to eat. I thus called it the Neo – Colonization where the politics is not at play rather money speaks !!!

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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