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

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Interrogating Development, Envisioning Alternatives

Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India by Aseem Shrivastava and Ashish Kothari (Penguin Viking: New Delhi), 2012; pp 1394, Rs 699.

For long it had been hoped that the rate of growth of the Indian economy would surpass that of China and possibly even cross the 10% mark. However, following the global economic crisis, the Indian economy has also seen its growth rate falling, alarming all those who believe high economic growth is the only way to develop the country. It is in challenging this belief that Aseem Shrivastava and Ashish Kothari, through their book Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India, make an intervention. The authors manage to unpack the history and trajectory of India’s growth story, focusing on the period after the reforms of 1991 (though the seeds for reforms began to be laid during the preceding decade). More importantly, they bring out the other side of the tale to show how many people and communities have been left out in the “pursuit of prosperity through globalised development” and the ecological costs it has entailed.

The authors intended audience is primarily the uninitiated reader. But they also delve into policies and critical debates to a large extent – a task at which they have been quite successful. The book is divided into two parts. The first section (Chapters 1 to 8) contains a fairly comprehensive critique of the model of economic development based entirely on economic growth and integration with the global economy. Its impact on the livelihoods of the rural population and urban poor and the ecology are very clearly delineated. The authors have supplemented their arguments with a large amount of information and data drawn from various government and other sources. The second section (Chapters 9 to 11), which is comparatively shorter, suggests an alternative in the form of a radical ecological democracy (RED). Here the authors are not providing a blueprint for future development but offering more of a vision by citing instances from all over the country where people have been experimenting with alternatives.

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