The rhetoric of development has always been used as a method to lure people. The cost of this kind of development has always been borne by the marginalised and voiceless people, or the environment. In such a context consent becomes an important parameter if one really wants inclusive development. This open letter describes the plight when the rhetoric wins over the essence of development.
I was in awe of you when they said you will improve my life. You would ease these sufferings and would take the “underdeveloped” in me to a “developed one”. I hoped to come out of this vicious cycle of poverty, as is what meant development to me. I expected to avail a better physical quality of life as that meant development. You were my ray of hope of becoming a human. They said you were good for me, and I simply agreed, because how does my consent matter any way. They know what is good for me. They know what is the best in the interest of development.
I have always aspired to become like the developed countries, as that is what a better life means. I was appealed to, by the common rhetoric of development. Little did I know my cost for development had a bigger picture, vested interests, and a propaganda complementary with it. My development never took my consent. I am the trees of Aarey and I paid the cost of development. I am a slum dweller and I paid the cost of development. I am a native of Kashmir and I paid the cost of development. Only to realise that I had a flawed notion of development being inclusive, holistic and for my benefit and well-being.
That is when I realized the importance of Consent for Development. You can have growth, you can build those structures, but how will you build my inner self?
You came for me and made me a destitute in the name of development. This development was not my development. It was largely governed by the vested interests and the public opinion professed by the propaganda of development.
You came for me because I was the easy, soft target, I was voiceless and lured by you, development.
I never wanted this type of development to happen. I never wanted your parenting for my good. I never wanted your progress at the cost of my own. India is my country defined by secularism and democracy. India is my country flaunting those plush green forests. India is my country defined by religious tolerance. But my idea of India does not matter, because that is not what the consensus today says. Surely there was vikas, but not sabka saath. You cut me down, you shut me down, and you threw me out because you were going to make my life better. I am still waitingf for that day to come, if ever it does.
The cost of development.
Feature Image Credits: Greenbiz