Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writers & Books in Art & Sculpture

I love reading and I started reading very early. There was a time when I read everything. I used to say that I will even read toilet paper if it has something written on it! I no longer try to read toilet papers, but I still read a lot. During my travels in different parts of the world, I have sometimes come across art, sculptures and monuments celebrating and remembering writers, poets, journalists and their books. This photo-essay is about those works of art that celebrate books and authors.

This photo-essay on art and sculptures about writers and their books brings together three of my passions - reading, art and photography.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

About Books and Reading

If you love reading, you may have your favourite authors that you may cherish and remember even after decades. Most of my favourite authors from my childhood were from my father's collection of Hindi books - Krishen Chander, Nanak Singh, Shivani, Chatur Sen, Rangey Raghav, Muktibodh, and many more. They were not books for children, but that did not stop me from reading them!

Growing up, I discovered English books. Then, over the last decades while living in Italy, apart from Italian writers, I also discovered some Latin American and European writers. Through the images of this photoessay, I hope to make you think about your own favourite authors and books.

Let me start this photo-essay with two images of a sculpture by Italian artist Pietro Magni (above and below) that show a young woman lost in a book. This sculpture is displayed in the Brera museum in Milan and when I first saw it, I fell in love with it.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image in this collection is from the Innocenti building in Florence that hosts the UNICEF office and shows a boy sitting on a paper boat. I think that it wonderfully illustrates the capacity of a good book to transport you to far away lands of imagination.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image is of an unusual tower made of hundred white coloured books by the Italian sculptor Lorenzo Perroni, who specializes in sculptures of white coloured books. I clicked this picture during the visit of a group of American astronauts to the Sala Borsa hall in Bologna. So you can see the astronauts in the lower right corner, with people sitting on the ground in front of them and the white columns of books towards the left.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next part of this photo-essay is divided according to countries where the pictures were taken.

America (USA)

There are two images from the Central Park in New York. The first one has a statue of Robert Burns, also known as Robbie Burns. He is considered to be the national poet of Scotland. According to the Wikipaedia, "He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish Diaspora around the world. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature".

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The second image is of a sculpture showing two characters of one of the most famous and enduring love stories of the world - Romeo and Juliet - by the British playwright William Shakespeare.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Austria

The next image is from Vienna and shows the writer and playwright Ferdinand Raimund (1790-1836) near the opera building. He is credited with a number of important books and plays in German. Bitten by a dog and afraid of a painful death due to rabies, because no treatment existed for this disease at that time, he committed suicide at the age of 46 years.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Belgium

The next three images are from Brussels, the capital of Belgium. The first one shows two lovers at the lake - they are Thyl and Nele, the characters of a book by the Belgian writer Charles De Coster. De Coster is considered to be the father of Belgian writing. This monument is the opera of the sculptor Charles Samuel, a fan of De Coster. The monument also has many other characters from De Coster's books on its sides - a cat, a cooking pot, a spinning rod.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image shows two of the principle characters (Captain Haddock and Tintin) from the iconic comic books about the adventures of a boy called Tintin. These comics were written and illustrated by the Belgian author and artist called Hergé (his real name was "Georges Remi"). Tintin is considered to be one of the most popular European comic books and these have been translated into different languages.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The third image from Brussels shows a statue of Charles Buls (also known as Karel Buls) placed in the Agoraplein square, close to the Grand Place square. According to Wikipaedia, "He was a Belgian politician and mayor of the City of Brussels. Buls was an accomplished and prolific author, not merely on educational and artistic issues but also publishing accounts of his travels abroad. Buls became Mayor of Brussels in 1881. However, along with these reforms, his most lasting achievement was the result of his opposition to the grandiose architectural schemes of King Leopold II, and the resulting preservation of old parts of Brussels. "

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Brazil

The next five images are from Brazil.

The first one has the bust of famous Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran in the city of Goiania. He was 12 years old when his family emigrated from Lebanon to USA. He died at 48 years and wrote in both Arabic and English. His most well known book is "The Prophet".

Many of the words of Khalil Gibran have been quoted infinite number of times and will be familiar to readers across the world. For example, you must have heard these - "If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were." Another of his quotes that I like, says - "I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers." You can check many other quotes from Gibran at Goodreads.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image is from Pelorihno, the old city on the hill in front of the port of Salvador do Bahia, where the well known Brazilian writer Jorge Amado lived. His house in Pelorinhno hosts a museum and shops around sell his souvenirs including his paintings showing him with a pipe in his mouth.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next two images are from the medical college in Pelorihno, showing two ancient Greek philosophers, writers and scientists - Hippocrates and Galen.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The last image from Brazil shows the house of Cora Coralina, an Afro-Brazilian slave during Portuguese occupation, in the historic city of Goias Velho. The house is located next to the river Rio Vermelho and there is a statue of Cora standing at the window, looking over the river. Cora was a poet, who wrote about the degradation of slavery and her poems inspired hundreds of other Afro-Brazilians to seek a life of dignity.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Czech Republic

The next image of this photo-essay is from Prague and shows the statue of a women writer - Bozena Nemcova (real name "Barbora Panklova). Writer of fairy tales and legends, she is best known for her novel Babicka (Grandmother), an autobiographical book about her childhood with her grandmother.


Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

India

The next four images are from India. The first image has the iconic figure of Basvanna from Basavkalyan in Karnataka, who is known for his Vachana-sahitya. According to Wikipaedia, "He spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas. Basavanna used Ishtalinga, an image of the Śiva Liṅga, to eradicate untouchability, to establish equality among all human beings and as a means to attain spiritual enlightenment. These were rational and progressive social thoughts in the twelfth century."

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next two images are from the Hindi Bhawan in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) and present two important personalities from the world of Hindi literature - national poet of India, Maithili Sharan Gupt and the iconic writer Munshi Prem Chand.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The fourth image from India shows Nobel laureate poet, writer, playwright and freedom fighter, Rabindra Nath Tagore.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Italy

The images of writers from Italy are more numerous than all the other countries in this photo-essay. This may be because I have travelled widely in Italy. Perhaps, this has also to do with greater willingness in Italy to honour artists and writers in the public spaces.

The first three images are from the gardens of Villa Borghese park in Rome. The first image shows the Ukrainian born Russian writer and playwright Nikolai Gogol. In her book "The Namesake", Jhumpa Lahiri had paid homage to Gogol by giving his name to her hero.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image has the Peruvian writer Garcilaso de la Vega known as The Inca, from Villa Borghese gardens of Rome. He wrote about the Spanish colonizers of Peru. The son of a Spanish conquistador and an Inca noblewoman, he is recognized primarily for his contributions to Inca history, culture, and society.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The third image from Villa Borghese gardens of Rome has a writer from a tiny eastern European country called Montenegro - Petar Petrovic Njegos, who was a nobleman and a poet. As the Prince-Bishop of Montenegro, he is credited with modernization of his country.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The fourth image is also from Rome, from the ruins of Traiano's baths near the Colosseum, and shows the statue of Italian journalist and writer Alfredo Oriani.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image is from Santa Croce square in Florence and shows the most well known Italian poet Dante Alighieri, famous for his epic poem "Divine Comedy".

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next four images are from a garden near Cavour square, close to the Brera museum of art in Milan. This garden has many statues of writers, journalists, philosophers and scientists.

The first of these images shows the well known Italian journalist and newspaper editor Indro Montanelli, writing on his old typewriter. He is shown as a young man, his severe face is focused on his writing. It is a remarkable piece of art.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next images have 3 Italian writers - Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Gaetano Negri and  the playwrite Giuseppe Giacosa from the Cavour square park in Milan.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image is from the city of Vicenza and it shows the writer, editor and publisher Neri Pozza. The sculpture is close to the bridge on the river Bacchiglione, just behind the famous Basilica built by Andrea Palladio. Neri Pozza is one of the reputed contemporary publishing houses in Italy, who have published the Italian translations of different Indian authors including Alka Saraogi and Anita Nair.


Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The last image of this photo-essay shows the statue of Irish writer James Joyce and is from the city of Trieste. Joyce is shown walking, crossing a bridge in the centre of the city. Joyce had lived in Trieste for many years. He is famous for his books like Ulysses and Finnegan's wake.

Books, wriers and art - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Conclusions

I have loved putting together this photo-essay, even though identifying the pictures for this post took me hours of going through my vast picture archives. It was frustrating that from many countries, I could not find any image related to a book or a writer or a journalist. For example, I could not find any such image from my image archives of UK or Switzerland. No country of Africa is represented in this photo-essay for the same reason.

Many countries do not put statues of writers in prominent public spaces, probably because often writers speak against their governments! Also because compared to national leaders, military persons and freedom fighters, for many countries writers and artists are not considered important enough to be remembered through art and sculpture. Finding images of art related to women writers is even more difficult - for this essay I could find only two of them.

I hope that you will enjoy going through these images and perhaps share with me your experiences of finding the statues of your favourite authors during your travels! I would love to hear about any art works related to writers and/or their books, especially from countries not represented in this post.

***

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rediscovering 15 August

The last time I had been in India for 15th August celebrations must have been around 30 years ago. Thus, being in Delhi for this independence day was a special occasion for me.

Growing up in the immediate post-independence era, I had also imbibed the values of patriotism and national pride. 60 years later, my ideas about patriotism and nationalism have changed but that is another story!

I remember once going to Red Fort as a child to listen to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and the long walk back home along with thousands of other persons after the speech. Though there was no TV in those days, listening to the prime minister's speech on the radio was something to which I had always looked forward to.

Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

After leaving India, for a long time I had missed not being able to listen to the Independence day speech so usually I waited to ask my sister on telephone about it. Those were the pre-Internet days.

Over the last decade, even though Doordarshan did not provide any internet based live transmissions, it had become easier to read about the speech on internet. Slowly a feeling of cynicism coupled with indifference had crept in. The speeches were lacklustre and afterwards it was difficult to remember anything that the prime minister had said. 15 August had become a bureaucratic boring event.

This time while I waited to hear the speech of the new prime minister, I was not sure if the event merited any enthusiasm. From what I had read occasionally on internet, in my mind Mr. Narendra Modi's figure has been associated with communalism and intolerance of religious minorities. Over the last few weeks that I have been back in India, some of the things said by and campaigns launched by some BJP persons had reinforced those fears.

Still I had thought of going to Red Fort just to relive the old times. However, the metro services does not start early enough so I had given up the idea. Thus, I had sat in front of the TV with a bit of trepidation.

However I liked Mr. Modi's speech very much and also the way he spoke. Especially his words about communal harmony, discrimination against girls and the need for toilets and cleanliness. He seemed very passionate about these issues. There were times, when listening to him brought a lump to my throat.

One day later, thinking about his speech, I can see many contradictions about the issues he raised. Such as his slogan "Make in India". I know that India has to increase its industrial production but it would also mean intensifying the use of the natural resources of India and that will mean displacing people from their lands and endangering our environment. Reaching the "zero effect" he recommended is not realistic in the short or medium term, so how do we deal with it?

He also talked about giving up violence because it does not resolve anything (I agree with that whole heartedly) but would he extend his non-violence exhortation to the police and state agencies that jail or fire on persons who protest against the government's policies?

Even if I have my reservations about some of the things Mr. Modi had said yesterday and even if we all know that "walking the talk" is not so easy, still I am glad that I could watch and listen to him live. It was a pleasant change from the cynicism and indifference of the past decade.

In the evening, we went to Connaught Place for the Shubha Mudgal concert. There were so many persons at the concert that we could only listen to her from a distance.

In the central park, everybody was busy getting clicked in front of the giant Indian flag.

Along the way, people were busy taking their selfies in front of flower-flags set up by NDMC in different places. In India Gate, crowds were unbelievable. It was a wonderful way to conclude the Independence day, watching people express their joy in being Indian.

Here are some images from the day.
Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Independence Day, Delhi, India - images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

***

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tribal lives - Konds of Orissa

Felix Padel, the great great grandson of Charles Darwin, is a well known Indo-British anthropologist. His book "Sacrificing people - Invasions of a tribal landscape" looks at the colonial roots of the relationships between "Adivasis", the indigenous people in tribal areas of India with the rest of country.

"First there were the soldiers, then missionaries and now the mining companies," Padel had said in an interview. His books explore the themes of displacement and the cultural genocide of the adivasis.

This post touches on some of the critical issues raised by Felix in his book "Sacrificing People" (Orient Black Swan, new updated paperback edition, 2011).

Sacrificing people by Felix Padel, book cover

In the preface to the first edition of this book, Felix had written, "My main aim is to understand what has been imposed on tribal people by looking objectively at the various groups of people who have imposed on them." Among the various groups scrutinized critically by Felix are anthropologists themselves, which makes for a very interesting reading.

Large parts of the book deal with the issue of human sacrifices among the Konds of Orissa and how the colonial regime dealt with it. Another important area of focus of this book is the meaning of development and how it can lead to exclusion and exploitation of tribal people.

Apart from these two areas of enquiry, I personally found two parts of the book very interesting - those dealing with the way anthropologists look at and study the indigenous cultures and the impact of missionary work and religious conversions on tribal lives.

Adivasis, the tribal people of India

The initial works of Felix focused on the Kond group of indigenous people in Orissa. Different sub-groups of Konds such as Konda and Gond are present in neighbouring Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

During the British colonial rule, Kond groups in Orissa had been the subject of different "reforms" because there were reports of human sacrifice practices among them. Konds sacrificed meriah, children bought from the Dom groups ("lower caste" Hindu groups involved in trading with Konds).
There are many different groups among the Konds. Clans are important in people's identity. Each clan, as well as each section of a clan and each village, has its own territory, and its own ancestors and myths and particular customs and ways of dressing...
Now as in 1830s Konds have close connections with people of an 'untouchable' caste called Doms or Panos, who live in Kond villages and carry on small scale trading .. Other tribal castes whom Konds depend on include blacksmiths, potters and herders, who almost function as sub-castes of Konds. Sundis are a Hindu caste of distillers; they make and sell mahua - the most famous of alcoholic drinks that play such an important part in tribal culture... Konds also have a close relationship with high caste Hindus.
Kond villages, like those of other tribes, show a lot of variety in how far they conform to the non-tribal or modern lifestyle of those around them. When men cut their hair short, this is often a sign of conformity, whether to Hindu or Christian norms. In the remoter villages, where men keep their hair long, a way of life continues that has not changed much since the days before the British rule. (p. 14-15)
Thus, compared to other indigenous groups in Africa or South America, that remained "indigenous" because they were isolated from other people living in their lands, the adivasis-tribals in India, were not completely isolated and had different kinds of interfaces with other population groups. However, in spite of such contacts they were able to conserve their own cultures and customs.

At the same time, Felix explains how these adivasi groups assimilated the different influences of other Indian groups such as their caste-based hierarchical relationships with Doms. Thus, on one hand, adivasis are considered inferior by non-advasis and at another level, they themselves considered certain other caste groups to be inferior to them.
Culturally they have always been part of Indian civilization, on its edge. Unlike most tribal peoples outside India, they have maintained trading and ritual links with city-based 'civilized' society for well over 2000 years.
Ancient texts on statecraft such as the Arthshastra discuss how to win them over as allies... the Indian situation presents a striking contrast to the European or Christian relationship between tribal peoples and 'civilization': in Europe they were mostly conquered, 'pacified' or 'civilized' into peasantry, and converted to Christianity during the Roman period or soon after. Later in the 'New World' tribes were exterminated or at least displaced from their land through a stark confrontation between European colonists and aboriginals. Hindu civilization did not on the whole seek to convert or displace tribals, although there was certainly often conflict, and tribes were forced to retreat to the remotest areas ..
Tribal religion is not sharply distinct from Hinduism.. Tribal myths have clear connections with Hindu mythology. Adivasis travel from far around to take part in certain Hindu festivals... Yet their differences from Hindus are conscious and conspicuous. In some contexts or areas they call themselves Hindus, in others not. (p. 17) 
This co-existence between tribal and non-tribal groups in India was challenged during the British colonial rule. In post-independence period and especially over the past two decades, policies of liberalization and commercialization with exploitation of natural resources, have put increasing stress on this co-existence.

Anthropologists studying the "exotic" tribals

In the book, Felix takes a critical look at the way in which colonial anthropologists had dehumanized the subjects of their studies, where anthropology was a tool of the colonial project and the objective of "civilizing" the tribals translated into controlling them and their resources. He advocates for a transformation towards reflexive or critical anthropology.
Anthropology was a vital element in British rule of the Konds, not least because it legitimized British rule from the side of science by defining Konds as a 'primitive tribe' who stood to benefit from an 'enlightened government', just as the missionaries legitmized it from the side of religion and ethics. (p. 242)
And when I looked at the anthropological literature about the Konds and other tribes in India, I realized that it forms an essential part of the discourse of power that was imposed on them. It denies them a voice, and denies their reality, by defining and categorizing them in way that is fantastically, incomprehensibly alien. (p. 243)
Felix proposes that our present way of looking at the tribal groups in India is a variation on the colonial attitudes towards them - it supports their exploitation and exclusion from their lands and cultures.
Victorian anthropology produced a highly impersonal way of writing about tribes such as Konds, that defined them as 'primitive' in every domain of life. It thus gave out as a 'scientific fact' what was essentially a negative stereotype. The underlying theory is what we call 'social evolutionism' - which, officially, most anthropologists have rejected. Yet it persists in India now in a slightly different form,in the idea that adivasis are 'backwards' or 'in need of development', and thereby legitimizes imposing momentous restrictions on them or displacing them from their land in the name of development. (p. 243)
Colonialism and the missionary project

In the chapter "Soldiers of Christ", Felix takes a critical look at the role played by colonial missionaries in assisting and expanding the control over the tribals. He briefly touches upon the evolution of missionary activities in the post-independence period.
Missioneries' self-sacrifice is often extreme and their benevolence, especially in education and medicine, seems beyond question. But there is a fundamental bias in their outlook which polarizes people, in the idea that Christianity is superior to other religions and that only Christians can be 'saved'. Behind a mask of meekness there is thus an enormous arrogance and violence in the missionary entreprise: a fundamental closedness and prejudice against other cultures and religions. (p. 185)
Felix touches repeatedly on the dual nature of the missionary work among the tribal people:
My appraisal of mission work may appear unsympathetic, since I do not share missionaries' negative judgement of tribal religion or their desire to uproot traditional beliefs and customs. Yet the missionaries we shall meet 'gave their lives for the Konds' in the years of devoted 'service', and many of them died 'in the field'. (p. 186)
A contrast between how missionaries saw themselves and how they saw they came to convert is thus at the basis of their thinking. If they idealized their own suffering and benevolence, their image of various 'others' is basically a negative stereotype. (p. 206) 
Regarding the missionary role in the colonial cause, Felix looks at the complex relationships between the missionaries and the colonial administrators.
On the surface missionaries were independent from the Government. Sometimes they came into conflict with it. There was a long standing tradition of missionaries who championed basic human rights overseas...But there was a lot of liason too, and at a deeper level a mutual dependence and division of labour evolved: in return for its patronage, missionaries extended the Government's hold over Konds in various ways. (p. 189-190)
Regarding the impact of missionary discourse on the tribal culture, Felix touches on different facets of this issue.
The missionary message was thus often aimed at persuading people of their sinfulness and appealing to their fear of damnation. As a result, a dominant theme in missionary discourse is a contrast between their own self-sacrificing Christianity and the sinfulness of various other groups - pagan Konds and Hindus, as well as Christians of other sects. (p. 200)
The theory here is that Kond religion consists of ignorance and the free expression of savage passions. The metaphors are of combating darkness and clearing the jungle, to 'elevate the Kond' .. The use of singular instead of plural in these passages is significant. It isolates the individual, just as in practice missionaries isolated individuals through teaching and conversion. 'The Kond' is a hapless, demonstrably ignorant specimen of scientific study and missionary persuasion. (p. 211)
Schools were not just a secular addition to Mission work: they were central to it, and it seems that the fundamental aim of Mission schools was to undermine traditional beliefs and inculcate a reformed pattern of behaviour and attitudes, preparing the ground for conversion, and creating a missionized elite among the population, who would see the world as missionaries wanted them to see it, separated from their fellows by many symbols. (p. 219)
So when Konds' language was 'reduced to writing', missionaries made sure its first texts were Christian texts. The same happened with the vast majority of tribal languages in the world. (p. 221)
.. missionaries segregated their converts as far as possible from unconverted pagans ... Orphanages and schools separated Kond children from their communities in many ways. Conversion to Christianity carried this much further, dividing a village with a host of values and symbols. (p. 233)
Felix notes that after independence, the evangelizing missions have been taken over the Indian Christians and the conversions to Christianity among the tribal groups have increased manifold.

Perhaps it would be interesting to see if the Christianity of Indian preachers is in some ways more inclusive of traditional beliefs and ideas of Tribal groups, giving rise to more syncretic versions of the religion?

Conclusions

Personally, at one level, I find frightening the idea of homogenising the different cultures and beliefs of people, substituting their rich world of myths and stories, with a common cultural-religious narrative. In recent years, like the missionaries, certain Hinduttva groups have also pushed for some standardized Hindu narratives in which the rich world of Adivasis gets submerged. At another level, the same happens to Adivasi languages, by the dominance of 'superior' languages, mainly English, but sometimes even Hindi or other Indian languages.

These discussions raise other questions in my mind - are human societies like museums where we need to keep 'pure and uncontaminated' varieties of people's cultures forcing them to live in the stone age, rather than the natural progressive transformation of societies when they meet other people and other cultures?

Felix Padel's book "Sacrificing People" forced me to rethink many of my ideas about tribal population groups in India - I think that many of my ideas were/are indeed shaped by the dominant Western cultural discourse which looks at indigenous people as ignorant and backwards and who need to be civilized.

Often persons advocating for 'development' get angry by any discussions on the rights of tribal people. They believe that such discussions and related protests against exploitation of natural resources in tribal areas are only ways to block 'progress'.

I do agree that sometimes people fighting for rights of indigenous groups have quaint but outlandish ideas about how persons ought to live and about the role of technology in our lives.

However, often 'development' is made only at the expense of the poor and marginalized, ignoring their rights and simple human dignity. It may also be controlled by ruthless groups of shareholders who benefit from a corrupt system. How can we avoid the 'development' that destroys our environment for short term gains? In my opinion, finding a middle ground in such a situation is fundamental.

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