Saturday, May 01, 2010

Out of this earth

This extraordinary book walks us through a very large territory covering not just the chemistry and history of natural resources in Odisha but it also establishes larger international connections, said renowned economist Amit Bhaduri at the book launch function of 'Out of the World' authored by Felix Padel and Samarendra Das, at IIC, Lodhi Road on April 30. The book is published by Orient BlackSwan.

"It offers a multidisciplinary approach to the complex problem of mining. It reveals that we're the world's largest democracy without the (freedom to make the) smallest of choices," he said.
Praful Bidwai, political analyst and activist, referred to the book as a passionate and a factually-rich account of conditions in Odisha, where extreme poverty and great wealth of natural resources exist simultaneously. "The book tells us, in a very engaging way, about what is happening to people who live there, who are profoundly disempowered and have worst of social indices."

It brings out, very articulately, the level of deprivation in Odisha, how the administration and the state have failed to provide for the people." Further, he said that the book documents how privatisation or 'enclosure of the public sphere' is taking place, including detailing about metallurgical production, which is a very energy intensive exercise by itself, requiring large amounts of resources like coal, electricity etc.

"Mining not only destroys the green oxygen-providing cover — trees, vegetation, shrubs, herbs — it also overturns the surface of the soil releasing dangerous gases like xenon, krypton and so on. It brings out how the so-called free market sustains this state of deprivation in Odisha by looking at connections between local and global finance, trade exchanges etc. One can read in the book the quality of sheer violence and brutality in running a system like this, which is based on destroying people," he said.
Recommending it thoroughly, noted public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan, said, "The (usual) GDP calculations do not include the enormous environmental and health costs leading to a virtual genocide of tribals, who are being driven to starvation. Twenty per cent of their population has already been forcefully displaced by the mining and downstream industry." He also spoke about how the book covers peaceful struggles of people and how they're met with state repression for showing resistance. "In fact, the development model has to be questioned or we're all headed towards a serious environmental and social disaster," he added.

Eminent sociologist Prof JPS Uberoi called the book timely and very diligently researched. He hoped, however, that more exphasis could be laid on the military-industrial complex when looking at the question of exploitative mining.
Arundahti Roy, Samarendra Das and Felix Padel at launch of book 'Out of this earth'
Authors Padel and Das briefly shared their own experiences of writing the book and took questions from the audience. On this occasion, Padel fondly remembered the late Kishen Pattanayak for motivating him to keep writing this book.

In a seven-year research period preceding 'Out of this earth', one of the few things he found most interesting was the discovery of the close relationship between aluminum, the soil and moisture. "There are many other aspects of this issue that we couldn't devote as much time as we would have liked to, but hopefully, the book will succeed in stimulating a lot more," he said.

Das explained how capitalism and violence are intertwined like in the case of mining activities in Odisha. He gave a mouthful to NGOs that sprung up by the dozen post-tsunami in Odisha, feeding off the misery of people and depoliticising everyone, to a large extent. He even blamed the politico-industrial establishment for colonising information flows about the process of mining. The event ended on a musical note with a violin rendition by Padel, which can be heard online at
My take: Praful Bidwai, Amit Bhaduri, Arundhati Roy, JPS Uberoi, Prashant Bhushan at the book launch
(For more photos, click here.)


  1. Thanks for the report.Please allow me to translate it into Hindi and post it at some other sites with credit and link to your report.

  2. Dear Shaweta,

    Pls let me know where could I find a hard copy or pdf file of this book. I am desperately looking for this but am unable to locate it in nearby book stores in Mumbai.

    I am living in Mulund (W) in mumbai and my mail ID is

    Please give me the feedback on this query.

    Warm regards,

    Azher ul Hasan

  3. Hi Samarendra,

    When can we get copies of the book in Trinidad and Tobago? I hope to see you soon.

    Rhea Ranu Mungal.