SO NEAR YET SO FAR: NATURE AS INTIMATE AND NATURE AS THE OTHER
Most natural spaces are contested today; there is an almost virile male (idea of) nation (in most parts of the globe) in a rush to establish paternity by injecting the seed of authority and dominion over natural resources towards an illusory idea of ‘growth’, in spite of peak oil and other crises of climate change (the two terms used for international agreements and conferences) without changing the ideology of a paternal, exploitative and extractive approach to nature and natural resources. A telephonic conversation in late September, 2016, gave me that
sense of how a construct has become not just main-stream but also the only stream that there is, if one has to live in this world—which seems to be the only singular world—today. This was a Koya (ST) farmer who said to me (over phone), he was planning to buy some land in
Hyderabad from the compensation he was about to receive for his own land (nearly 10 acres in the pristine environs of a village not far from the Godavari river) which he had sold for the Polavaram dam, even as he spoke of the kind of corruption that was going on in the
compensation process for their land for the Polavaram dam1; he was only shown ‘house site’ and not the promised land for his land lost, which, incidentally is guaranteed by the new Land acquisition Act of 20132. But it did not seem to matter to him—not being compensated
for his golden fields / land of corn, maize, paddy, all of these rainfed. Farming has been rendered an activity that is fairly distant from the globally oriented ‘skill-development’, ‘IT’ dreams, where Hyderabad and its suburbs are the place to live in. At another level, money is the new intimate; every land can be acquired for money, and in this equation, one has to re-configure the intimacy that farmers once had with their fields, or tribal communities / adivasis once had with their forests, for which they fought some of the most protracted battles with even the colonial rulers. Of course, some, like the Dongria Kondh from Odisha, still fighting for their Niyamgiri mountain, become a kind of wonder for many.