Indian land grabs in Ethiopia show dark side of south-south co-operation | Anuradha Mittal

From Global development | The Guardian Mon Feb 25 2013, 06:14:25

The takeover of peoples' land and water by corporations - even if they are from the global south - is a new form of colonisation

The idea of south-south co-operation evokes a positive image of solidarity between developing countries through the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge. It's an attractive proposition, intended to shift the international balance of power and help developing nations break away from aid dependence and achieve true emancipation from former colonial powers. However, the discourse of south-south co-operation has become a cover for human rights violations involving southern governments and companies.

A case in point is the land grab by Indian corporations in Ethiopia, facilitated by the governments of both countries, which use development rhetoric while further marginalising the indigenous communities that bear the pain of the resulting social, economic and environmental devastation. It is against this scenario that international solidarity between communities affected by the insanity of a development model that prefers profits over people is reclaiming the principles of south-south co-operation.

Ethiopia's late prime minister, Meles Zenawi, welcomed India's expanding footprint in Africa as essential for his country's wellbeing, a vision shared by his successor, Hailemariam Desalegn. The Export-Import Bank, India's premier export finance institution, gave the Ethiopian government a $640m (£412m) line of credit to develop the controversial sugar sector in lower Omo. Indian companies are the largest investors in the country, having acquired more than 600,000 hectares (1.5m acres) of land for agro-industrial projects.

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