ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ecological Rift and Alienation: Field notes from Goa and Sikkim

Goa and Sikkim, two of the smallest states in India by area, are also places that have some of the richest plant and animal biodiversity, with Goa nestled between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, and Sikkim being a part of the eastern Himalayas. Incidentally, their natural beauty also makes them ideal tourist destinations. Currently, Goa is about to see a resumption in mining activities, mining fields that were left abandoned for a decade will open up soon, and places like Mollem (an ecological hotspot) will be dug up in the name of “development projects” (Datta 2022). The mountains of Sikkim and North Bengal too are being dug up for the Sivok-Rangpo railway project, with plans of extending it to Gangtok at a second phase later on. In this paper, I explore the Marxist ecological tradition and the metabolic rift through primary field evidence from Goa, and parts of North Bengal and Sikkim. I present the observations from field visits to these places followed by an analysis of observations from the Marxian ecologist perspective, foregrounding the idea of ecological rift and alienation as discussed by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, Richard York and Fred Magdoff.

The Alienation and Commodification of Nature: Fighting the Fallacious Fetishism of Contemporary Frameworks through a Revolutionary Transition

With the frantically incessant economic production activity that apparently projects no end, the human-nature relationship seems to have come full circle. As man agonises being manacled by natural constraints, in the form of planetary ecological crises, he stands to be the alleged culprit. For analytical coherence, this paper is divided into four sections. The first section elucidates, through a Marxist perspective of ecology, how the unheeded capitalistic socio-economic course of human action has engendered the alienation of nature itself, which in turn is posing fatal afflictions, conspicuous through compelling phenomena like climate change. Following it is a discussion on the repercussions of commodification of nature. The third section brings out the dichotomous reasoning evident in redundant environmental policy frameworks and paradigms in India. Accentuating the dialectical relationship between sociology and ecology, it explicates, in advocacy for the contemporary “have-nots,” the need to constantly heed the multidimensionality of sustainability, also discernible in the Sustainable Development Goals. On these lines, finally, the course of a “revolutionary transition,” to reinstate a progressive human-nature nexus, is expounded. As a way forward, the paper suggests eschewing the repudiation and outright denial of the prevailing ‘problem of production’ and the need for a sagacious dialogue, in order to mount radical action in response to the looming environmental threats.

Marx at 200

As we mark Karl Marx’s 200th birth anniversary, it is clear that the emancipation of labour from capitalist alienation and exploitation is a task that still confronts us. Marx’s concept of the worker is not limited to European white males, but includes Irish and Black super-exploited and therefore doubly revolutionary workers, as well as women of all races and nations. But, his research and his concept of revolution go further, incorporating a wide range of agrarian non-capitalist societies of his time, from India to Russia and from Algeria to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, often emphasising their gender relations. In his last, still partially unpublished writings, he turns his gaze Eastward and Southward. In these regions outside Western Europe, he finds important revolutionary possibilities among peasants and their ancient communistic social structures, even as these are being undermined by their formal subsumption under the rule of capital. In his last published text, he envisions an alliance between these non-working-class strata and the Western European working class.

Assam : Tribal Land Alienation:Government's Role

The large-scale influx of infiltrators from the south and the north-west has compounded fears of insecurity and large-scale land alienation. Infiltration has been a fall-out of not merely recent government policies, but once formed a part of the colonial government's moves to resettle and develop the region.
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