Social Transformation

Neither society nor social problems are static. Social Problems are mainly linked with Social structure.

  1. Ideologies
  2. Institutions
  3. Interests of Society
  4. Values
  5. Attitudes
  6. Power
  7. Authority

The process of Social Transformations brings about change in the above mentioned different aspect of
social life and side by side generates new social problems.

It is a broad concept used to indicate social dynamics. The ideas, conveying the meaning of ‘evolution,
‘progress’ and ‘change’ on the one hand and the meaning of ‘development’, ‘modernization’ and ‘revolution’ on the other, are incorporated within the concept of the process of social transformation. If the process of social transformation is suppressed it generates new social problems i.e., farmers unrest, Naxalism, unemployment, youth unrest etc. If the process of transformation taking a natural course, the society faces the problems of adjustment i.e., generation gap, caste conflict etc, poverty, inequality, and deprivation, displacement, during the transitional phase of the decline of the old system and emergence of the new system.

What is Development?

Development is a stage in which with the help of his knowledge and skill man is able to relieve himself from the natural environment and molds it for his own advantage. It involves extraction of natural mineral from the land and sea water and controlling the flow of natural surface water for generation or power and transforming land for the development of transport facilities and industrial establishment Naturally such development activities provide economic benefits and it is the only way for the progress of human civilization.

Main characteristics of development are as follows:

  1. Development modifies natural environment for human advantage.
  2. Development is a change on account of best use of technological and economic capabilities.
  3. Development increases physical and economic capability, hence, it can be measured in terms of its social benefits.
  4. Development brings about economic and technological change; therefore, socio-cultural change is its secondary aspect
  5. Development leads human life from simplicity to complexity.
  6. Development leads to division of labour and specialization in job.
  7. Development provides various options to man to fulfil his needs.
  8. Development is an upward trend in the production of various goods and instrument for our use.
  9. Proper planning is essential for proper development
  10. Some types of development if not controlled properly such as weaponry may lead to human devastation.

Development is necessary for the progress but it cannot be done without changing the land use and erecting some form of new structure and for this the original user of the land has to be displaced which if not done with the free will and convenience for the original user, it is bound to create problems to him. Such problems are termed as development induced displacement problems. In short, this is crisis of development.

Meaning of Displacement :

We find that since early days of human civilization human settlements are along rivers and have agricultural landmass around their settlements. When government plans some types of development, such as construction of dam, power generation plant, construction of road or railway and development of industrial area etc., it acquires land for the purpose. After paying some compensation asks the original owners of the land acquired to vacate it If they do not do so willingly they are removed from the acquired land by force. This process is termed as development induced displacement.

Types of Displacement :

In India, there are four broad categories of displacement :

  1. Political causes, including secessionist movements : Since independence, north-east India has witnessed two major armed conflicts: the Naga movement primarily led by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland and the Assam movement led by the All Assam Students Union and now largely taken over by the extremist United Liberation Front of Assam. The violence and retaliatory responses from the gov- eminent and other forces opposed to the secessionists continue to generate a steady flow of displaced people. In Kashmir’s ‘war’ between state forces and militants, the killing of Kashmiri Pandits by fundamentalist secessionist groups, the widespread anarchy created by political instability and the continuous violation of fundamental human rights by both the state and militant groups, have led to large- scale displacement, mainly of Kashmiri Pandits (estimated at 250,000), to Jammu and cities like Delhi. Despite the election and restoration of a popular government in 1996, those displaced have not been able to return due to the continuing reality of sporadic massacres in Kashmir. Although conditions are miserable, the displaced find that camps offer better employment opportunities, education and security.
  2. Identity-based autonomy movements, have also led to violence and displacement : This has happened in Punjab and more recently in the Bodo Autonomous Council area of western Assam. ‘Cleansing’ of non-Bodo communities by the Bodos, through plunder, arson, massacre and persecution, has forced a large number of non-Bodos to flee. They now live in camps.
  3. Localized violence : Internal displacement has also arisen from caste disputes (as in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh), religious fundamentalism (as in urban riots in Bombay, Coimbatore, Bhagalpur and Aligarh) and aggressive denial of residency and employment rights to non-indigenous groups by supporters of the ‘son of-the soil policy’ (as in Meghalaya by the Khasi students and in Arunachal Pradesh against the Chakmas).
  4. Environmental and development- induced displacement : In order to achieve rapid economic growth, India has invested in industrial projects, dams, roads, mines, power plants and new cities which have been made possible only through massive acquisition of land and subsequent dis- placement of people.According to the figures provided by the Indian Social Institute, the 21.3 million development- induced IDPs include those displaced by dams (16.4 million), mines (2.55 million), industrial development (1.25 million) and wild life sanctuaries and national parks (0.6 million).

Development projects, particularly dams, have always generated serious controversy in India as they have tended to be a major source of displacement-related conflicts. Estimates of national resettlement forced by development a project shows that during1950-90 the number of people affected was18.5 million.According to the Central Water Commission, over 3,300 dams have been built since independence and some1,000 more are under construction.Another study of 54 large dams done by the Indian Institute of Public Administration concluded that the average number of people displaced by a large dam is 44,182.

Over 21,000 families were uprooted and ousted when the Pong Dam was constructed nearly 25 years ago and they have still not received the benefit of any proper rehabilitation measures. The World Bank’s ‘Project Completion Report’ for the controversial Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada (likely to displace 0.2 million people) has cast a shadow over the project’s future. India’s unimpressive track record in operations and maintenance, says the report, is responsible for the uncertainty. India has borrowed US$151.5 million from the Work!Bank to build the dam. In 1993 the Bank cancelled plans to lend more due to the Indian government’s failure to meet even such basic conditions as identification of the displaced and preparation of resettlement plans.

The fact that development projects are usually located in remote villages, hills and forests means that those displaced tend to be the indigenous people who have been the traditional agents of conservation. Here displacement has meant a loss of livelihood habitat and assets, social disruption and disorder and severance from an eco-system which had sustained them. Most critically, these displacements threaten the poor and the weak with even greater impoverishment It is only those cases of ‘involuntary resettlement’ which come to the attention of social and environmental activists, and are thus highlighted that lead to some measure of state intervention. In most cases total displacement with loss of home and livelihood has resulted.

Rehabilitation primarily the process of reconstruction of the livelihood of displaced persons has never been a guiding principle of the 1894 Land Acquisition Act (still in use) which instead emphasizes cash compensation for loss. The government has taken the firm stand that rehabilitation would not be a prime consideration when acquiring land for ‘public purpose’ (the definition of which has not been made public).The government has even sought to take away the right of appeal by those whose land stands to be confiscated by making the Supreme Court the only appellate forum.

Globalization has been another threat to indigenous communities as private conglomerates (including foreign multi-nationals) encroach upon rural lands, hitherto the domain of tribal and other indigenous communities, to build the government’s desired industrial infra-structure. The proposed amendments to the 1894 Act, if carried out, are likely to generate new waves of displacement as the Act will then make it even easier for private interests to acquire land.

  1. Natural disaster-induced displacement: There has been massive and recurrent displacement due to floods, cyclones and landslides. A report by the Centre for Science and Environment (1991) states that India is the most flood- affected country in the world after Bangladesh and that over 30 million people are displaced annually. Flood- affected areas shot up from an average of 6.4 million hectares a year in the1950s to 9 million hectares in the 1980s. Government flood control measures mainly consist of dams and embankments. Over 400 km of embankments have been built annually since 1954 and 256 large dams with an average height of 15 metres and above had been constructed by 1986; 154 more were under construction. Yet all these have failed to control floods and indeed dams are now cited as an important cause of floods while embankments have disrupted the natural drainage system in the flood plains.
    • ‘Natural’ disaster-led displacement is never recorded after the initial dose of relief and rehabilitation assistance. One of the most serious aspects of the displacement belonging to this category has been the fact that the displacement has been silent but acute and frequent.
  2. Displacement from Dams and Reservoirs : Various dams and reservoirs such as Bhakhra Nangal Dam, Sardar Sarovar Dam, Tehri Dam, Bargi Dam and many others of this nature have been constructed, which have rendered nearly 50 lakh homeless and they are facing the problems of displacement, though government took to rehabilitation work, but displaced people are not satisfied Narmada Bachao Andolan is still on for the rehabilitation of the displaced people.
  3. Industrial Development and Displacement: Large size industrial plants to boost the national economy were erected and land acquired for the purpose had displaced nearly 50 lakh people so far. These people are not satisfied with the compensation paid to them and efforts are made for their rehabilitation. It may be stressed that some industries produce goods of domestic use in large quantities which has rendered large number of workers, engaged in small and cottage industries jobless. Number of such displaced persons cannot be counted.
  4. New Forest Policy and Displacement: This policy has banned traditional tribal population from taking herbs and earn their bread thus crores of people feel displaced without proper rehabilitation plans for the good of the people.
  5. Displacement caused by Urban Facilities : Government is developing Mandi Samiti, transport facilities, educational institutions, sports facilities, etc., in urban areas for which land around urban areas have been acquired by the government and small farmers of those areas have been displaced
Institutional responses
  1. India has no national policy and legal institutional framework to deal with either refugees or IDPs. India has not ratified the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol and does not permit UNHCR access to most refugee groups. In the absence of a permanent institutional structure to oversee refugee issues, the granting of refugee status has been at the discretion of the political authorities. Due to a similar absence of a national policy on resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs, there has been only piecemeal and ad hoc initiatives at project and state level.
  2. Even the latest Draft National Policy for Rehabilitation of Persons: Displaced as a Consequence of Acquisition of Land proposed by the Ministry of Rural Development does not deal with any other type of displacement except that arising from land acquisition. This draft also totally disregards the plight and interests of IDPs of other categories, including those fleeing human rights violations, physical violence and communal and other sources of tension.
  3. Crucially, government accountability for the consequences of state-imposed displacement has been virtually absent While the states have aggressively clamoured for more benefits from development projects, they have consistently haggled over their share of rehabilitation costs and totally disregarded the plight of those displaced The Draft National Policy for Rehabilitation is a multi- dimensional response to displacement with full rehabilitation covering
    • The entire community (landless labourers, landholders, houseless, householders and even the unemployed and the forest dwellers),
    • Their sociocultural cost of displacement and
    • Economic dimensions such as upgrading of skill levels and the accumulation of physical assets as well as social capital.
  4. There is no international agency to deal with such types of dis- placement UNHCR’s mandate in this regard has been both ad hoc and unsystematic.Only recently has UNHCR redefined its mandate to allow for the inclusion of IDPs in certain situations: when such people are present in or going back to the same areas as returning refugees; when they are living alongside a refugee population and have similar needs for protection and assistance; where the same factors have given rise to both internal and external population movements and where there are good reasons for addressing those problems by means of a single humanitarian operation; where there is a potential for cross-border movement and where the provision of assistance to the internally displaced may enable them to remain in safety in their own country.
  5. Displacement is not migration, because migration is on account of individual’s free will for his own good while displacement is forced by the state. Sometimes the government provides some facilities to the displaced person and families and sometime they are asked to make their own arrangements.
Measures to Check Displacement

Since the problem of development induced displacement is a question of life and death for a very large population, therefore, we suggest following measures to check the problems

  1. Before undertaking any development project it must be evaluated by experts so that only minimum numbers of people are displaced
  2. The execution of such big projects be handled by honest and efficient persons so that they are completed in due time and proper rehabilitation of displaced is ensured
  3. Plans must be made for the employment of the displaced people.
  4. Cash compensation to displaced persons does not serve the purpose. Therefore, they should be provided with living space, educational and medical facilities for their children and family members as well as employment to the displaced
  5. Dispersal of industries instead of their concentration in some selected areas will benefit large number of people and reduce the large scale displacement

Environmental Problems :

  1. Environmental problems means overall lowering of environmental qualities because of adverse changes brought in by human activities in the basic structure of the components of the environment to such an extent that these adverse changes affect all biological communities in particular. Environmental pollution and environmental degradation terms are used interchangeably but these are different concepts. Pollution is the cause for the degradation of environment The degradation of environment is caused by pollution and hazard/ disasters. The hazards or disasters are sudden by natural processes or by human activities which require the immediate relief.
  2. Environmental pollution is taking place due to slow and gradual human activities, e.g., increase of human population, establishing factories and industries, development of transportation facilities, etc. The pollution degrades the quality of the environment which can be protected by proper environmental management and assessment
  3. Environmental and ecological changes are the result of processes of the ‘economic and technological’ growth. With the socio-economic, scientific and technological development has emerged the serious problem of environmental degradation. Environmental degradation leaves direct impact on the ecology and thus is caused ecological imbalance because of marked reduction in the ecosystem and ecological diversity. The ecological imbalance is the sign of environmental degradation. It can be easily observable in living organisms.
  4. The interaction between the environment and society depends largely on the social and political systems within which arise the environmental and ecological problems. The capitalistic and socialistic system, perception and reactions to the environment are quite different Socialistic system lays emphasis on the social importance of nature resources and environmental problems. The capitalistic system has selfish international motive, regarding the exploitation of natural resources.
  5. Capitalism runs on the logic of maximizing profits. To maximize profits, capitalists try to grow continually. No amount of profit is enough. Hence, more and more should be produced and sold For more production, more resources are needed As we consume excessive natural resources, environmental degradation takes place.
  6. School of social ecology points out that, different social groups have different norms and values in relation to the idea of environment Hence the capitalists see environment as an aluminum mine to be extracted to maximize profits; the tribals, on the other hand view environment as a beneficiate. Hence they preserve trees and animals and extract only that much of resources as can be sustainably extracted.
  7. In modern societies, the lifestyle of affluent people is dominated by consumerism. In consumerism, consumption becomes an end in itself. This happens when members of society generally believe that greater your consumption, happier you are. Greater consumption does not make us happy. But consumerism becomes an integral part of social values hence needs become unlimited and even the government promotes spending to stimulate economic growth.
  8. According to Ulrich Beck (1992) in every stage of history technology has developed to harness environment Technology is a primary tool of social change. However, today’s complex technology leads to pollution and degrades environment. Such complex technology is also prone to error. More the complexity of a technology more is the risk of error. In spite of this our society uses it with the hope that in future, better technologies will be developed to compensate and overcome the effects of present technologies. Basically, our society ‘risks’ using these technologies. Beck calls modern societies as ‘risk societies.’

Causes of Environmental Problems

  1. The development of modern technologies.
  2. The increase in the human population.
  3. There is pressure on natural resources.
  4. The high rate of exploitation of natural resources.
  5. Growing industries and factories.
  6. Increasing human settlements and urbanization.
  7. The development of economic functions of man.
  8. Deforestation: Conversion of forest land into agricultural land and pastures.
  9. Agricultural Development High concentration of chemicals and fertilizers pollute the soils or degrade the soils.
  10. Population Growth: Ever increasing human population places greater demands on the finite resources of earth.
  11. Industrial development
  12. Urbanization: The formation and growth of big slum areas, air pollution, smoke, dust.
  13. Modern Productive Technology : Construction of huge dams and reservoirs upset the equilibrium of rocks.

Some Suggestions to Prevent Environmental Problems and Sustainability

Pollution of our environment is increasingly posing problems for man’s survival on earth. This has not happened in a day or two. Continuously we have been contaminating and damaging our environment Man has been continuously ignoring ‘the laws of nature’ and disturbing the ecological balance. Scientists and environmentalists have already warned the impending tragedy if the environment is continuously contaminated Dr. Einstein said ‘All our technological process our very civilization is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal.So like pathological criminals we have mercilessly destroyed the forest and converted fertile land into desert”There should be final stop for this creeping paralysis.We must think in terms of protecting our environment which protects us in turn. Some suggestions could be given in this regard

  1. It is necessary to undertake an appropriate National Industrial Policy so as to protect our national interest including the environmental interests.It is known fact that unregulated industrialization has been causing environmental pollution. Hence it is necessary to implement very strictly the National Industrial Policy.
  2. Uncontrolled urbanization should be stopped Urbanization has been taking place in an unprecedented manner. Existing cities are growing and new cities are coming up. There is neither regulation nor any control over the growth of cities. These cities are spoiling the nearby environment. Only through proper regulations and control the unwanted effects of urbanization could be stopped
  3. Owners of motor vehicles are to be instructed strictly to use pollution control gadgets. The use of these instruments can help to reduce pollution caused by vehicles.
  4. The sewage system of the cities is to be revised Sewage wastes let into streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters are causing several problems. Hence sewage water is to be purified before it is allowed to join rivers, lakes or coastal waters.
  5. A separate arrangement is to be made to collect and transport the inorganic and non-degradable garbage wastes to a distant place.The unwanted inorganic substances like tins, plastic bags, boxes, bottles, etc., are to be deposited separately in the dustbins so as to help the municipal administration to collect and take it to a distant place. People should also ban the use of plastic bags at least in some specified fields and areas.
  6. Recycling non-degradable materials. It is necessary to minimize the use of non-degradable materials. We must also make necessary arrangements to recycle and reuse discarded materials. People must help organizations which recycle such materials.
  7. Regular removal of the garbage. The municipal and city administrations must take steps to remove the garbage, dust and other thrown away articles deposited in the dustbins. People also should learn the art of depositing the garbage only in the dustbins and not throwing it everywhere.
  8. Launching of save environment campaigns and movements. Since sizeable number of Indians are still illiterate. It is necessary to educate them to keep the environment neat and clean. They must also be educated regarding the adverse consequences of pollution. A national level campaigns or movement to ‘save environment’ could be launched with the active participation of political leaders, labour leaders, peasant leaders, student leaders and leaders of various religious and cultural organizations.
  9. Encouragement to conservation of forest. It is necessary to awaken the people about the importance of forests in preserving the purity of our environment Appropriate steps should be taken to conserve the existing forests. Special efforts should also be made to develop gardens, parks, within the premises of hospitals, educational institutions, industries, government offices, etc. ‘ Vanamahotsava’ should not become a governmental rituaL There should be active participation of the people in it ‘Plant a tree before cutting one’ should become a meaningful and a practical slogan.
  10. Special financial assistance for protecting the environment In our national budget there should be a provision for a special fund to give financial assistance to the local bodies to safeguard the environmental interests.
  11. Creating Environmental Awareness among the Children. Special arrangements must be made to create environmental awareness among the children and the young people. Training given to the children in this direction at an early age especially in schools and colleges go a long way in creating awareness to protect the environment.
  12. Launching of Environmental Education Programmes. It is necessary to educate the people to take proper precaution to save our environment. A specialized body of the U.N.O. namely UNEP has stressed the importance of such a kind of education long back in 1977.

The environmental education programmes should include the following :

  1. Environmental education and training at school college and university level.
  2. Environmental sciences, which deal with advanced science and its effect on air, water and soil degradation.
  3. Environmental engineering, which includes the study to assess the impact of engineering science on environment

Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the late prime minister of India had told: “Modern man must re-establish his unbroken link with nature and with life. He must again learn to invoke the energy and to recognize, as did the ancients in India centuries ago, that we can take from the earth and atmosphere only so much as one put back into them.”

  1. The most important thing is to bring about a change in the present attitude towards the industrialized countries model of development We should recognize the inherent flaws in the present model and develop alternate growth models that give due weightage to ecological aspects as welL Above all we should realize that natural systems have a threshold point beyond which it is impossible to replenish them. This change in attitude can be brought about by mass media campaigns, structured education, political leaders etc. For instance the award-winning film an inconvenient Truth byA1 Gore seemed to have a huge impact on the way many of us look at environmental issues.
  2. Preservation and the sustainable use of natural resources have to be given due importance. Over exploitation of any form of forest resources, marine wealth, fossil-energy sources, soil resources etc., should be avoided Extra efforts should be taken to conserve and replenish nature. For instance, whenever a hydroelectric project is planned due care should be taken to develop forests in the surrounding areas to compensate for the vegetation lost due to the project.
  3. The political class and the bureaucrats have a major role in bringing about sustainability. This is mainly by designing policies and regulations that would promote green technologies, while discouraging those initiatives that adversely affect the ecosystems. For example, the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol is one such initiative.At the country level the subsidies given to solar water heaters are also done with the same purpose.
  4. Sustainability cannot be achieved at isolated pockets as the issues of ecology are global For example, the loss of tropical rain forests in South America would adversely affect the biodiversity of the whole world.
  5. So, the initiatives for sustainability should be carried on across the country borders as well. This can be mainly achieved with the help of the UN bodies such as UNEP, multilateral bodies like G8, environmentalist organizations like Green Peace etc.
  6. In addition to global collaborations, in generous and micro-level solutions have to be developed and tapped. This can be in terms of traditional knowledge, like the use of Neem, products as pesticides or small-scale projects like the construction of small check dams to recharge ground water. Such local solutions are very effective in preserving nature and taking us in the path of sustainability. The initiatives for sustainability should not be Top Down i.e., the programes should not be passed on as prescriptions to the concerned stakeholders by someone higher up. Instead once the overall policies and guidelines are framed by the higher ups, the micro aspects of implementation should be left to the ground level stakeholders. In simple terms, unless a large public takes up the cause of sustainability, the path of sustainable development is never going to be an easy one.
  7. Green Technology is one of the most important pillars for sustainability.We will be directly contributing to the conservations of natural systems by developing and promoting the usage of eco-friendly methods. This can be in the area of energy, recyclable goods, transportation etc. For example, the CNG powered buses in New Delhi lead to sustainability in the areas of public transportation system. In this era of globalization and multinational corporate, the agenda of sustainability should also be vigorously pursued by the private sector. Companies should not only take the path of development in their present ventures but also work towards developing new eco-friendly solutions.The green agenda should be adhered to.
  8. We should recognize that Environment, Economy and Community are integrated and interdependent, and we cannot focus on only one aspect totally ignoring the others. This should be kept in mind when devising any developmental project For instance, a project aimed at exploiting the coal reserves in an area should also talk adequate measures to preserve the ecosystems in that area in the best possible manner. This needs to be addressed at the planning stage of the project itself and for this purpose various tools of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) can be utilized.

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