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

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Capital Myths and the 'New Copernican Revolution'

In the prevalent world view, the ecology is perceived as a subset of the economy where intense state interventions and ideological scaffoldings are needed to sustain this rule of capital. However, this order of things seems to be changing where the economy is now, increasingly, being perceived as a subset of the ecology. This is akin to a "New Copernican Revolution" in the way we look at human relations with nature and with each other. Recent instances, like Vedanta's Niyamgiri rejection, indicate that entrenched ideas are changing in India too.

A “New Copernican Revolution” that reverses the relationship between economics and the environment has been underway globally for some time, and is finally making its i mpact felt in India. Two recent developments indicate this trend. First, the rejection of Vedanta’s application to mine in Niyamgiri, which must be seen beyond all cynical speculations about electoral calculations as a victory for tribal rights in f orest areas. There are, of course, always several small and big interests at play in any such development: the logic of elections, corporate rivalry, cheerleaders of capital in the media, and movements and struggles. Decisions of such moment c annot emerge unless there is a favourable constellation of different impulses at play in the field.1

That the Niyamgiri decision is not simply an outcome of cynical calculations in the corridors of power and corporate intrigue, is attested to by the proposal that has been announced by the Union Minister of Mines, B K Handique, in the Rajya Sabha. This, the second important development, is the proposal of the group of ministers to give tribals a 26% stake in profits from mining, that has come up in the course of drawing up the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill that seeks, among other things, to control illegal mining as well as protect the environment and tribal rights.

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