Accepted paper:

Development and indigenous people: problems and sustenance


Madhurima Chowdhury (Calcutta University)
Atrayee Banerjee (University of Calcutta)

Paper short abstract:

Development, at least for indigenous people, is not really about lifting them out of poverty; it is about masking the takeover of their territories which adversely affect their sustenance and way of life.

Paper long abstract:

About 1.2 billion people in the world today live on less than one dollar a day. Indigenous people constitute an important group of rural poor. They are also among the most vulnerable and marginalized of the rural poor. Development, coupled with deforestation, erosion and loss of bio-diversity all affect the indigenous peoples' health, sustenance and way of life. Indigenous groups' environmental problems stem from their tenuous rights to the land they occupy. Nor do governments or the World Bank require indigenous groups' consent before approving projects that affect their land or require their forced relocation. Poverty and encroachment onto their lands has led many indigenous groups to forsake traditional land use practices for often unsustainable hunting, agriculture and timber harvest methods which were previously unknown to them. In a 21st century world of expensive water, food, healthcare and power, self sufficiency has its attraction. It may not boost the GDP figures, but there are many indigenous people in the world who live longer and healthier than millions in nearby slums. Indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge and practices are increasingly being recognized as vital for conservation work and efforts to combat and adapt to climate change. Yet, despite this recognition, indigenous cultures have been damaged more often than not by development policies that ignore their traditional sources of knowledge and cultural priorities, and fail to respect their land rights. Development policies that take into account indigenous peoples' culture and identity can be beneficial not only to indigenous peoples, but also for developing countries.

panel P102
Development, disadvantaged people and human security: the emerging problems and contribution of anthropology in resolving the challenges (Commission on Human Rights)