Saturday, December 5, 2009

The people of rural India are skilled, intelligent and capable of producing excellent products for all aspects of a good life. Today, their access to the natural materials around them is more and more restricted. It began in colonial times with the appropriation by the State of forests, and continues today through appropriation of land and water and poisoning of the air by corporate interests supported by the State. Corporate interests see rural people as buyers of their toothpaste, biscuits, shampoos, soap and cloth... and of course now also of electrical appliances and petrol-driven vehicles. But surely toothpaste and soap does not need to be made in huge factories? Soapnut trees produce shampoo and piloo and neem trees produce toothbrushes which don't need toothpaste. Biscuits which kill childrens' appetites have replaced the nutritious snacks Indian children used to eat of puffed rice jaggery and chana.

'Development' should take as its premise the valuable repository of skills, capabilities and resources of the Indian countryside and the particular character of our varied and diverse society. Its foolish to discard ecological production practices in which we lead the world, in favour of so-called 'modern' production that is energy-intensive and polluting. That has been the guiding principle of the malkha process.

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