India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The country has undergone rapid progress ever since the government opened up its borders for foreign investments in 1991. Sounds familiar? This is exactly what you will hear in any article or news channel. But what people don’t tell you is at what expense this growth happens.
Every development project has displaced communities and has had a lot of negative social and economic impacts on the communities. For example, dam construction projects alone have displaced 21 to 33 million people in India. We met with one such displaced community in Bangalore. The land on which these people were living legally belonged to the “Economically Weaker Sections” of the society. However due to government’s favoritism towards big businesses, corporations were allowed to demolish the homes of the poor for commercial purposes. We learned about this community through a Facebook group and decided to help.
On visiting the site, we found that a lot of displaced people were elderly citizens, women and children. These people were living with bare minimum resources. We did a clothing run and distributed the clothes to as many people as we could. We also provided monetary support to some of the elderly people.
Most of these people are from the economically backward and are desperate for help. In such conditions, it is human nature to take as much help as you can even if it is at the expense of being too greedy due to which some members end up not getting any benefit. Therefore, one of the most important things we had to ensure is that there is equitable distribution of resources. Although donating clothes/money will help in the short run, we felt it quintessential to spread awareness of such exploitations within our circle of influence (i.e. family, friends, and colleagues) so that governments at the expense of growth will not compromise on basic rights of the citizens, especially the lower class since they have very little influence on policy making.
Shridhar Vijay Kumar, Rahul Panicker
Smeal Class of 2013