In the works A factory under construction at the APSEZ. (Photograph by Jitender Gupta)
Even the little children in the rehabilitation colony set up for those displaced by the SEZ in Atchutapuram seem to realise that the exchange of land for jobs wasn’t what the officials told them it would be. The sun is setting by the time we arrive at the colony in Dibbapalam, but all the adults are away, at the garment factory where they earn less than Rs 3,000 a month. After paying off the loans they incurred building their new homes, there is hardly any money left to buy rice for the family, the children tell us. Each family was given a 250 square yard plot and Rs 1.2 lakh compensation for losing their homes. At Rs 5 lakh per acre and a job, the farmers jumped at the deal. But others are learning from their mistakes—the APIIC officials admit they are finding it hard to acquire land for their expansion plans.
As Bosanna says, “I do want a job for my son but not at the cost of destroying the livelihood of my community and neighbours. Why can’t the government see that?” Increasingly, however, people like Bosanna are feeling like intruders in their own town. For the growing elite, the signs of Visakhapatnam’s rising status are visible: a Mercedes Benz show last month where orders were highly satisfactory, Volkswagen and Skoda showrooms, two pubs and a lounge bar patronised by the staff of the two bpos that have opened shop here, at least seven or eight parties a month where the city’s 300 richest families get together hoping to be featured in the first city magazine of Visakhapatnam, Yo Vizag. Destiny—for better or for worse.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The time when public agencies acquired tens of thousands of acres of land for economic projects should now be put firmly behind us.
Having spent three years, and after counteless visits otherwise to Vizag, i can assure you that no matter what, one cant help falling in love with the city. I left Vizag for good in 2004, and on visits after that, saw the city change drastically, morphing into this fast growing creature, embelished with all the new-world accessories like malls, big bazaars and flyovers. As long as the city doesnt lose the basic calm and serentiy that has been its halmark, new state capital or not, Vizag would still remain one of the best cities to live in this part of India! In fact this article spoke of another of my hometowns, Bhubaneswar, a scenic laid back city, which isreadying itself for a tryst with development.
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