Tuesday, July 22, 2008

journal entry: june 4, 2008

While reading Vandana Shiva's Earth Democracy, well rereading a section, I was struck by her discussion of displacement and disposability.  A few days ago, I was deeply disturbed and bothered by the apparent disposability of the poor population here in Delhi and was grappling with what systems or institutions could possibly be responsible.  Shiva sites the "enclosure of the commons" as the mechanism for creating disposable populations by displacing their role and life style from society.  It is the enclosure and privatization of knowledge, water, food, resources, and services that causes people to be come marginalized.  This marginalization then causes people to resort to extremism and thus the emergence of fundamentalist terrorism appears.  This enclosure induces scarcity for the masses, and only provides these things to those who are able to pay monetarily.  It refuses peoples' right to live.  To have clean water.  To have food and shelter.  When I originally read this, I thought the ideas were interesting and new to me, but upon rereading it, I feel like I get it.  I understand completely what the message is.  Displaced people are no longer abstract people that exist in photographs, on the internet, in some author's well placed words.  They have faces.  They have lives.  They have grabbed my hand and asked for anything.  They smiled at me on the street.  I smiled back, knowing one day... things would be different.


Today we're leaving for Navdanya's farm Bija Vidyapeeth.  The farm is a teaching/learning center and a model organic sustainable farm.  We're all extremely excited to be going there.  Last night everyone came to the conclusion that Delhi was not for us and we were ready to head for the hills.  I think this speaks to the awesomeness that is the group here.  As I was repacking my bag, I thought about all the items I had brought and their significance to this trip.  Many of my fellow travelers brought a ton of stuff.  I realize that I "sacrificed" things for this journey, but at this time, I don't think I'm really forgoing anything.  It's made me think about how spoiled and materialistic I am in my life at home.  How we all are as Americans.  Why do I need 12 different pairs of black shoes?  Why do I have a collection of scarves when it never really gets that cold in Florida?  Right here, in my hiking pack, I have everything I could and will need.  Interesting observation.


The drive to Navdanya was very interesting and enlightening.  So much went by the bus window it was difficult for me to process it all.  There were clear distinctions between varying degrees of socioeconomic classes; of wealth and poverty.  All in the same view.  It reminded me of a less crowded Old Delhi.  It was like that for some time.  After a while of passing other buses, I thought about how we were traveling compared to the other travelers I had seen.  I know it was only this way for our comfort and safety, but the air conditioned luxury bus felt as if it was further reinforcing the cultural differences we were trying so hard to observe and embrace.  If embracing meant no A/C then so be it.  Taking a train would have been logistically too difficult for our large group, but A/C... hm.... (as I'm typing this I'm laughing.  I had no idea how nice A/C really was).  Honestly it felt slightly more like I was sitting in a friend's living room watching the travel channel about poverty and mystery of "Exotic India".  I bet the special would even be called "Exotic India".  

When we stopped for lunch I felt/observed the class difference among the travelers.  People here appeared to be of blossoming Indian middle class and strangely enough did not seem in the least be interested or curious by our presence.  I took this as an indicator of where we stood in this particular social hierarchy. 

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