for a few drops more…





“If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of the country…”

– Jawaharlal Nehru speaking to villagers who were to be displaced by the Hirakud Dam, 1948

i stood still on a hill and laughed out loud. i had crossed the narmada by boat from jalsindhi and climbed the ehadland on the opposite bank from where i could see, ranged across the crown of low, bald hills, the adivasi hamlets of sikka, surung, neemgava and domkhedi. i could see their airy fragile homes. i could see their fields and forests behind them. i could see children with little goats scuttling across the landscape like motorized peanuts. i knew i was looking at a civilization older than hinduism, slated – sanctioned (by the highest court in the land) – to be drowned this monsoon when the waters of the sardar sarovar reservoir will rise to submerge it.

why did i laugh?

because i suddenly remembered the tender concern with which the supreme court judges in delhi(before vacating the legal stay on further construction of the sardar sarovar dam) had enquired whether adivasi children in the resettlement colonies would have children’s parks to play in. the lawyers representing the government had hastened to assure them that indeed they would, and what’s more, that there were se-saws and slides and swings in every park. i looked up at the endless sky and down at the river rushing past and for a brief, brief moment the absurdity of it all reversed my rage and i laughed. i meant no disrespect…  


excerpt from: the algebra of infinite justice, arundhati roy, penguin books, 2002


roy’s book is a compelling account of the disasters behind the making of the temples of modern india…i happened to take this photograph in 2006, when activists from the narmada bachao andolan ( were in delhi to protest against a supreme court directive staying construction of the narmada dam. the man, whose hand is in the frame – ram babu bhai – has since lost his home and all his ancestral land after the dam was made operational…



~ by mentalsyrup on March 6, 2009.

One Response to “for a few drops more…”

  1. the picture is evocative.

    the issue itself leaves me very confused, and i do not know which side to take – if there is one to be taken.

    the excerpt, well, somehow, my mind categorizes the writer as one of those ‘pseudo’ people…

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