Development vis-à-vis Degrowth: Stories of Resistance, Struggle, and Survival from the Postcolonial Western Ghats
Keywords:Western Ghats, Climate change, Development, Degrowth, Forest
One of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biodiversity according to UNESCO, the Western Ghats have much to be credited for the historical prosperity of western peninsular India. The colonial era marked the beginning of the ecological diversity of the forests of the Ghats, spawning new rules and policies in the state. The consequent land allocations posed a challenge to the community identity of the indigenous tribes of the region. Even after India’s independence, the native successors in governance and land ownership inherited the capitalist and imperialist policies claiming to reduce poverty through development. The rampant growth strategies and the unpredictable climatic variations with a cycle of drought and torrential rain further threatened the ecological stability and also pushed the native tribes into destitution and displacement. This paper attempts to analyze literary works chronicling the tribal lives of the Western Ghats alongside social narratives on the recent harsh adverse effects of unsustainable growth in southwest India. The acclaimed novel Kocharethi the Araya Woman brings to the fore powerful statements of race and land rights of the Arayar community against the backdrop of the Western Ghats. The woes of the Badaga population of the Nilgiris amidst development interventions are core to the novel When the Kurinji Blooms. The paper attempts to read how the poignant narratives from the Western Ghats are a clarion call to redefine development through a broader cultural process of decolonizing the growth paradigms.
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