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Sitting in Angchuk and Dolma's kitchen was like watching an unchoreographed dance. No one said, 'You do this,' 'Shall I do that? One minute Uncle Dawa was cuddling the baby, the next he was stirring a pot on the stove, then he was bringing in some flour from the larder. He passed little Angchuk to Dolma, who held him on her lap as she chopped vegetables. Angchuk pumped the bellows to keep the fire burning and held out a pot for Uncle Dawa to pour the flour into. Abi- le, or Grandmother, took over at the stove while Angdus began to mold the dough for bread.

Dolma went out to fetch water from the stream that ran beside the house. Then Uncle Dawa sat down beside the stove.

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He spun his prayer wheel of shining copper and brass while gently murmuring a sacred mantra, as if it were an accompaniment to the movement around him. Many Ladakhis now bake their bread on scraps of asbestos, and I have even seen pesticide tins being used for salt shakers. Earthlings Before the Flood A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity The Battle of Chernobyl The Shock Doctrine Trending Articles. Scott Noble's History of Resistance. Date Added Views Length min Topics. Sign In. The most recent evidence in support of your argument is the ongoing violence in central Kalimantan in Indonesia, where the indigenous population of Dayaks are killing Madurese migrants who moved to the area as a result of a government program aimed, ostensibly, at reducing population pressure in Java.

Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh

Fundamentally there is a link between policies that promote trade for the sake of trade and policies that promote a centralization of the demographic pattern, or urbanization. As I mentioned before, the entire infrastructure is set up to contribute to both urbanization and globalization in terms of increased trade. If you have a completely decentralized population, it becomes, from the point of view of the traders, very hard to deliver Coca-Cola and McDonalds everywhere. Structurally the dynamic is to further this concentration of population. Equally structural and endemic to the system is using more and more technology instead of human labor.

Using fossil fuel and other forms of finite energy and fuelling more and more technologies to take the place of human labor.


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These three factors together - policies that favor trade for the sake of trade, urbanization, and the use of technology instead of human labor - create a system and this is particularly evident in the South , where small-scale producers, producing for a local economy, are being decimated economically and being shoved into slums. Simultaneously, as I mentioned before, their identities are threatened. In urban centers, jobs are very limited, space is limited the price of land shoots up , so suddenly, these people find themselves in a highly difficult and competitive situation people are forced to fight for accommodation, for jobs, etc.

The entire process is one of centralizing power and control.

Learning from Ladakh

Now this still goes on in the West, but in the West, the boundaries of my own kind and others are not so clear. In the South people are often associated with community identity, either ethnic or religious. These ethnic and religious divisions mean that people in power clearly favor their own group and the other groups become more and more disenfranchised and often more and more violent.

Another factor is the centralization of jobs. This is true even in the West; if you want a job in America or in England or Sweden the job centers are diminishing in number. In England, for instance, jobs are centralized in London, Bristol, and a few other cities. There is another aspect to this problem which is that poor labor is pulled in to do the dirty work; again a pattern that I have seen in Sweden, in America and even in Ladakh, where the dirtiest jobs will be done by the most impoverished in the region, or from the periphery.

In the case of Ladakh, there are Nepalis and Biharis coming to build the roads, clean the lavatories, etc. These are often people who have to leave their families, often young men, who come on their own, are often not very happy, will often drink more, and will often be those responsible for crime and violence. It is vital that we realize that this has nothing to do with racial or religious characteristics; it is simply a pattern among the marginalized in conditions of extreme structural inequality.

The systems of destruction must be understood so that we can find levers and points to change them and it is quite evident to me that we need to decentralize rather than centralize, localize instead of globalize. The economic dynamic we have now is leading to an uprooting and to displacement of populations at an ever-escalating rate. We must also not forget that this pressure is combined with very intensified competition for scarce jobs.


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This is making it impossible for people to coexist. I believe that most of the violence we are seeing in the world today has to do with this structural problem. What is the impact of these policies on the South?

IMF and World Bank policies have been fundamental to this whole process. They were established to further this process of so-called development, i. These are the structural features of their policies. What the World Bank was saying was helping to build up infrastructure and the IMF was helping to provide the money to keep this going. At the same time, it is important to look at these policies without demonizing any individual institution or any individuals.

The system we have inherited goes back so far that there are not very many people who have looked carefully at its dynamic; many people who have promoted this kind of development have sincerely believed that it was the only way to eradicate poverty. This remains true to this day. However, after a while, one expects people in power to be willing to listen to the problems that these policies have created, and this is getting a bit frustrating now.

The information gap is widening and in a way we have less communication than we used to. I am hoping there will be more public debates between people who favor continuing in the same direction and those who oppose it.

Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh

We have found that it is difficult to get the real powers-that-be to engage in serious debates about such issues. Does development have to mean destruction to use your words? What would a more socially, ethically, and environmentally responsible development consist in? There are a few points I would like to make. First, we must realize that institutions and elites in both North and South owe a debt to the poor. We need to move beyond this old analysis of North and South and understand that the peoples and structures that have furthered this development are now in both North and South.

Second, new policies need to look at reversing processes of centralization and urbanization both prompted by an emphasis on trade for the sake of trade. We urgently need to be looking at a reduction in trade and emphasizing the building up of healthy local economies, particularly when it comes to food and farming. This will lead to food security and diversified production so that local populations can have an adequate and wide-ranging diet.

I am convinced that investing in local economies will cost far less money than current policies.