Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The beauty of compromise

Too many things have kept me away from regular blogging, so apologies to you all. I prefer posting essays, all of which take time to write (and so often remain unwritten, and unposted). Perhaps a better strategy would be to post shorter (but hopefully still sufficiently interesting posts), trying to post longer articles when time permits. Lets see how that goes.


Meanwhile, here's a superb essay by one of India's foremost contemporary historians, Ramachandra Guha. Here he explores some of South Asia's well known conflicts; in Kashmir, in Nagaland, the formation of Bangladesh, the Narmada movement, and the Sri Lankan civil war, and shows how inflexibility and dogmatism of contending parties have dragged on and amplified disputes. Here's an excerpt:

Now, a group of engineers based in Pune advocated a compromise solution. Given that the dam had already come up to a height of about 260 feet, clearly it could not be stopped. But its negative effects could be minimized. Thus, the Pune engineers had designed a model of a dam smaller than that originally envisaged. The reduction in height would greatly reduce the area to be submerged, yet retain many of the benefits that were to accrue from the dam. The drought-prone regions of Kutch and Saurashtra would still get water. At the same time, many fewer families would be displaced.

Unfortunately, the compromise was rejected both by the Gujarat Government and by the NBA. The former insisted that the dam had to be built to its originally sanctioned height of 456 feet. The latter insisted that the dam must be brought down. As the Andolan's slogan went, 'Kohi Nahi Hatega! Baandh Nahin Banega!' (No one will leave their homes, for the dam will not be built). But a good chunk of the dam had already been built. Hundreds of tons of concrete had already been poured into its foundations. And thousands of families had already been displaced.

While the ability to compromise will certainly not guarantee results or solutions, it is often undervalued by too many policy makers or leaders. Anyway, get your cup of coffee, sit down and read the complete essay here. It is well worth your time.


Destination Infinity said...

That was an informative essay. Thanks for bringing it to our notice.

Destination Infinity.

Sunil said...

you're welcome DI

Anonymous said...

I have read somewhere :
Compromise can give you an umbrella but not a solid roof.