Socialist Worker

Costing the earth

Issue No. 1683

Costing the earth

By Sam Ashman

INDIA IS the third largest dam builder in the world. Since independence various Indian governments have built 3,300 dams. The resulting reservoirs have uprooted millions of people. Yet 250 million people across India do not have access to safe drinking water and over 80 percent of rural households do not have electricity. These points, and more, are made in a new book by Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things.

The Cost of Living reprints two campaigning essays by her. The first is "The Greater Common Good", which looks at the huge Sardar Sarovar dam project on the River Narmada in central India. Roy attacks the links between the politicians, the bureaucrats and the dam construction companies. She condemns those who have ignored arguments about the human, environmental and economic costs of the dam project.

The second essay, "The Cost of Living", denounces the Indian government's nuclear tests, the arms race between India and Pakistan, and the threat of global nuclear annihilation in general. "If protesting against having a nuclear bomb implanted in my brain is anti-Hindu and anti-national, then I secede," says Roy. "I hereby declare myself an independent, mobile republic. I am a citizen of the earth. I own no territory. I have no flag." For a short, inspiring read you need look no further.

  • The Cost of Living by Arundhati Roy is available from Bookmarks for �5.99 plus 90p postage and packing.

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Sat 12 Feb 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1683
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