Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The real 'Avatar': Dongria Kondh vs. Vedanta

by marco Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 10:05:38 AM EST

Vedanta does not have any right to touch our Niyamgiri mountain.  Even if you cut our throats, even if you behead us, we are not going to allow this.  We'll see how they are going to take over our mountains.

Maybe Cameron can work this into the sequel.


What will one tribe have to do to save everything they know?



Mine, narrated by Joanna Lumley, tells the story of the remote Dongria Kondh tribe's struggle to protect Niyamgiri, the mountain they worship as a God. London-based mining company Vedanta Resources plans a vast open-pit bauxite mine in India's Niyamgiri hills, and the Dongria Kondh know that means the destruction of their forests, their way of life, and their mountain God.

Partial transcript from video:

[Dongria Man 1] Now they're telling us that the company will do good things.  But we say, "You don't have to take care of ourselves.  We can take care of ourselves.  We'll lead our lives the way we know.  Vedanta is trying to terrorise us.

[Dongria Man 2] People here are extremely agitated now.  They are ready to lay down their lives to protect Niyamgiri.

Back in Niyamgiri, the pressure is mounting.  Roads are being bull-dozed deep into the hills.  

[Dongria Man 3]  We will not allow Vedanta to come here and because we didn't know earlier, they were able to build the refinery in Lanjigarh.  But now that we know about them, we won't allow them to come here at any cost.  We don't need roads up to Niyamgiri.  We don't have any vehicles to use this kind of road.

And so the Dongria's have blocked the roads into their sacred hills.  They're not waiting for their fate to be decided in a corporate boardroom.

[Dongria Man 3]  Vedanta does not have any right to touch our Niyamgiri mountain.  Even if you cut our throats, even if you behead us, we are not going to allow this.  We'll see how they are going to take over our mountains.

[Dongria Man 4]  Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters, did you hear everything?  We need people from outside to stand with us, then we have to fight.  Then we can survive.  We can save our land.  And we can be in charge of our territory.

[Dongria Woman 1]  We won't give our forest to anybody.  Even if you kill us, even if you hang us.  We'll carry on living here peacefully.  All us women will go to jail.  How many people can they keep in jail?  How long can the police keep us for?  They will give me rice and meat so I'll live in jail.  I'm not going to leave my Niyam Raja until I die.

[Dongria Man 3]  It's not just about us, we need people like you to join our struggle.  We have to drive Vedanta away from here.

Display:
We asked Vedanta Resources plc for their response to this film.

We received no reply.



La Chine dorme. Laisse la dormir. Quand la Chine s'Úveillera, le monde tremblera.
by marco on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 10:08:12 AM EST
Material, capitalist western (now-eastern) civilization will never understand what's wrong with this scenario.  That's been played out for so many centuries. With always the same consequences.

Until they drive themselves right off the skin of the planet. then the healing begins again.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 12:23:40 PM EST
could be a list of real-world situations where this scenario has played out and/or continues to play out:

  • Dongria Kondh
  • Western Hemisphere
  • Australia
  • most of Africa (?)
  • Tibet
  • Xinjiang
  • Ainu (by the Yamato Japanese)

The list would no doubt be very long, indeed.

La Chine dorme. Laisse la dormir. Quand la Chine s'Úveillera, le monde tremblera.

by marco on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 12:52:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Vedanta Resources!!? They should be sued for defamation of the name Vedanta. Last time I checked the Vedanta Society was not a bunch of Kali worshipers.  

Vedanta (Devanagari: वेदान्त, Vedānta) was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a sandhied form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedas". By the 8th century CE, the word also came to be used to describe a group of philosophical traditions concerned with the self-realisation by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman).

Guess Vedanta Resources is safer for them than calling themselves Scientology Resources, Catholic Resources or Lutheran Resources. The only  realization they desire is the realization of material wealth. Perhaps they are incapable of conceiving of the monstrous affront their appropriation of the name constitutes.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:56:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps they are incapable of conceiving of the monstrous affront their appropriation of the name constitutes.

If they're willing to pillage an ecosystem, destroy a culture, trample on an ancient belief system, hey... feloniously appropriating another culture's spiritual language for a brand name is hardly going to stick in their craw.

What the heck do we call these big eco-crimes -- Grand Theft Planet?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 01:57:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm reminded of the many, many USian product names based (often inaccurately or weirdly) on First Nations words, names, etc.  Ticonderoga pencils, anyone?

(Mohawk tekontaró:ken, "at the junction of two rivers")

Also recalling that bonmot of Kunstlers, something to this effect:  Roads and developments in the suburbs seem invariably named after everything that was destroyed in their creation:  hence we see rustic signage reading Appletree Lane, Songbird Meadows, Shady Oaks, etc., erected over bulldozed hillsides denuded of trees and empty of bird life.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 02:01:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great point.  I doubt there are any sinister motives in the origins of these names (even in the case of commercial products or real estate developments, beyond the usual marketing reasons).  But as for inheriting or adopting indigenous place names, the result nevertheless is that it throws insult upon injury.

La Chine dorme. Laisse la dormir. Quand la Chine s'Úveillera, le monde tremblera.
by marco on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 05:41:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
forgive my intellectual/moral bias, but personally I find "the usual marketing reasons" deeply sinister :-) and looking around me at the wreckage of cultures, nations, language groups, hydrological and biotic systems -- all driven by commerce and profit-seeking --I think this may not be entirely unreasonable...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 01:10:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the name is a cruel irony, intentional and crass in the extreme, or even more tone-deaf, unintentional.

these people should be compensated, some will say, but how can they be?

will they suddenly transition to cell-phoning consumers and participants in the growthgasm that is india?

there's a membrane...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jan 31st, 2010 at 04:34:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But maybe 'cultural treason' was.

DeAnander: feloniously appropriating another culture's spiritual language for a brand name is hardly going to stick in their craw.

While ARGeezer's point about name defamation is well taken, it seems no 'appropriating another culture's spiritual language' was involved (much less 'feloniously'):

Although its headquarters are in London, Vedanta Resources was founded by Indian businessman Anil Agarwal, initially as Sterlite Industries, which was later re-christened as part of Vedanta Resources which brought "together a variety of businesses owned by the Agarwal family".

I guess a case could be made that Agarwal, even if his family is of Hindu 'background', may have disowned that Hindu heritage, and therefore his use of the name Vedanta could count as 'appropriating another culture's spiritual language'.  A similar case, I would submit might be made against Bikram Choudhury, who though Indian himself, went so far as to copyright and enforce the copyrights he took out on Bikram Yoga, a system of 26 positions that he 'appropriated' from 'his own' culture's spiritual tradition.  But these two examples would entail that Agarwal and Choudhury were no longer 'culturally Indian' or 'culturally Indian Hindu', had renounced their own cultures, before appropriating Indian names and spiritual traditions.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Thu Feb 4th, 2010 at 04:32:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Indian government sanctioned Vedanta's operations in Niyamgiri --

Vedanta Resources recently received permission from the Indian government to create a bauxite mine in the Niyamgiri Hills.

Anil Agarwal (businessman) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As for the British government:

The British Government today blasted FTSE-100 company Vedanta Resources over its treatment of the Dongria Kondh tribe in Orissa, India.

<...>

In an unprecedented attack on a major British company, the government ruled that Vedanta, `did not respect the rights of the Dongria Kondh'; `did not consider the impact of the construction of the mine on the [tribe's] rights'; and `failed to put in place an adequate and timely consultation mechanism'. Devastatingly, it concluded, `A change in the company's behaviour' is `essential'.

Astonishingly, despite repeated requests from the UK government, the company `failed to provide any evidence during the examination'. This is the only time a company has refused to participate in an OECD investigation.

UK Government blasts Vedanta for mistreatment of Oriya tribals | Thaindian News (October 12th, 2009 - 5:15 pm)



The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Thu Feb 4th, 2010 at 04:56:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]