WHY ARE WE IN THE TROPICS UNDERDEVELOPED AND POOR?

World Renewable Resources and Income

Click on the Illustration to get an enlarged picture

Just have a nice look at the illustration map above: depicting the relationship between climatic situations and poverty! It would be very clear that the poorest nations are those in the tropics. Now, let us look at a couple of “daily happenings” around us

  1. The other day this writer was interacting with a few villagers in a nearby small village (about 35 km from the huge metropolis of Bangalore). Suddenly, we heard a chorus of young school children singing: “Happy Birth Day to you!…..” It was a surprise to note this “new cultural outlook” in a village, where the school does not teach English; yet the children sing an alien Birth day Chorus!
  2. The southern State of Kerala in India has Cashew cultivation, which is a vegetation system exclusive to tropical climate. It was strange to note that the Kerala State Government had invited Agriculture Scientists from Denmark to study and report how the state could improve growth of cashew and related businesses. It should be noted here that Denmark is climatically close to the Torrid Zone, having absolutely no relationship in climate as well as in vegetation growth with respect to those in the tropics. And, more over, the Government of India has instituted a special Cashew Development Corporation, with well paid Indian Scientists and other support infrastructure for Research and Development. But, even these “learned” and knowledgeable personnel are “happy” to be trained by alien scientists, who do not have any worldly experiences of both the climate in the tropics as well as the vegetation systems here!

What do the above two seemingly unrelated happenings around us have in common?

If we carefully analyze the “inner significance” in the two cases we would note that there is an undercurrent of “slavish” mentality or behavior pattern in the two instances. This writer has observed such psychological degeneration in almost all aspects of socio-cultural and techno-economic programs in every tropical nation. Somehow, the entire tropical world seems to have become dumb (or “human dodos”), resulting in meek acceptance of alien ideas and alien ways of living, being considered “modern”.

A bit of History:

  1. To this writer, there are only Two worlds: the Tropical and the non-Tropical (although we could further differentiate the latter as Temperate zone and Torrid zone). While the tropical world holds more than 70% of all the resources of the Planet (based on its original source, the sun), the non-tropical world has the balance. This also pertains to human resource (population) as well as animal resource. The two worlds have had separate socio-economic and cultural developments over the millennia.
  2. Throughout the last thousands of years, the Tropical world has, by and large, been progressing in a natural manner, without looking for self aggrandizement and “over consumption”, although small pockets of “big powers” did exist, form time to time. This “natural way of living” had kept the original systems of village clusters and cultures in all these countries, intact (including those in India, which has had the greatest influx of aliens for over a millennium … China seems to be moving toward an impending “disaster” that no one seems to have noted… that of converting over a billion people under communist dictates into a totally different “meaningless” culture).
  3. The non-tropical world could be considered as having “developed” into a “conglomerate” in Europe – starting with the British, Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spaniards as the main “forces”. All of these groups started their “expeditions” (voyages to the “east”) into the tropical world (in the early 1400 AD). The local populations in all these lands have been (and continue to be) very docile and peaceful, allowing the aliens to actually “invade” their own lands. By 1500 AD, the “invaders” virtually took control of almost all the different regions, starting from the small Galapagos Island in the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines in the east (and controlling almost the entire tropical world). The new invaders plundered whatever they could lay their hands on (animals, material wealth, vegetation systems, artifacts of value…and so on). By 1600 AD, the entire tropical world became actual slaves of the non-Tropical world (better known today as the Western World)
  4. Over 300 years of colonial rule by the West in all these tropical nations destroyed the original communities; destroyed every original system of agricultural practices, local medicine systems, local governance systems, local education systems, and everything “original, including various vegetation and animal specie. The destruction is so huge that today we have the so-called Global warming, which has also  resulted in the unimaginable Poverty of the Tropical world. Huge land mass were reconstituted for alien cultivations, in the form of Coffee, Tea, Rubber, Vanilla and the like, resulting in complete destruction of the original ecologies of the entire tropical worlds. Many local domesticated species such as cows, goats, fowls and other farm animals that had lived along with the local communities for centuries were totally destroyed
  5. Today’s local societies in the entire tropics are absolute “mental slaves” of the western world in every thing … and a condition has been reached whereby most countries (especially in Africa) cannot easily come back to gain their original identities. [Perhaps India alone seems a bit different in that not only the Democratic system but the very basic original culture that has "lived" for over 4000 years would help India to slowly limp back to its pristine cultural glory in the next one hundred years!!!]
  6. As an example, let us look at Ethiopia. This great ancient civilization has had superb “original culture” of human existence, through a natural wealth of water, vegetation, animal and beautiful natural surroundings. But then, like every other tropical nation, the “brain power” of the country has been purloined to alien lands, thereby the “original culture” and human systems have been destroyed beyond repair! Today there are more Ethiopian Doctors and Nurses in the US/ Canada than in their own lands!!! Further, recently the pristine fertile lands are being “offered” on lease to the western world for their food cultivation … being done under connivance of the local “rulers”

What are these so-called Developed nations as against Developing/ Under-developed nations? All these (and everything to do with whatever we are forced to “look at”) are coined by the Western Intellectual Traditions (WIT), which is an off-shoot of the experiences in the Temperate climatic world… and has absolutely no relevance to the ground realities in the tropical world. Unfortunately, almost all the “brain power” in these “developing nations” have become slaves of the WIT, forgetting to even “look at” the local situations, in spite of these regions being endowed with huge Renewable Resources. Thus, economic development is a condition that pertains to Local resources based development, based on local wisdom and local needs. Any amount of “alien” systems (whether industry or medicine) would only add to the “underdevelopment” of Local resources, making these nations more and more poor and indebted to the “others”

Please also see: What Ails India and other Tropics

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9 responses to “WHY ARE WE IN THE TROPICS UNDERDEVELOPED AND POOR?

  1. I agree with your observations. Chancellor Wily Branadt talked of N-S divide. You talk of ecological divide. The recent ‘Avatar’ caricatured the American corporate version of imperialism in a distant planet. There is not much difference between East India Company and American Mid West MNC dinos grown to grotesque proportions based on the agricultural and hidden subsidies doled by Uncle Sam.

    Environment and the interdependent ecology knows no boundaries or borders. Like a kind of Marxist equity we should seek the equal right of every human being to equal opportunities and access to natural resources, minerals and energy. The greedy polluters must first clean up the mess they have created before even sitting in a negotiating table. They are not qualified to preach what they don’t practice. After the humans the equal opportunity approach should be extended to every living and non living matter on this planet.

    Mono culture and farming based on it is against nature, notwithstanding if humans have practised it from a distant past. We have to promote biodiversity in farms.
    Local self sufficiency and economic interdependence will foster rural economic development, reduce carbon foot print of transportation of food over long distances to satisfy human taste and hedonism.

    Our governments would have us believe that progress is measured by propagating sustainable economic development of MNC behemoths who grab IPR on global natural resources. “Cooperation” agreements at a political level to further the commercial interests of such MNCs should come to an end. This is against the interests of the poor.

    The living legacy of our own knowledge and sciences is given short shrift and token gestures are made with a a lot of pompous and pious sentiments expressed at regular intervals in seminars. These seminars innovate some catch phrase like “inclusiveness” World Bank has studied poverty alleviation threadbare and is one of the most ‘knowledgeable’ organisations on what is poverty all about and how it can be alleviated. Then there is livelihoods creation, and scheme after scheme mission after mission.

  2. hello Sri Santhanam

    While it is true that the western world is looking at their own “development” needs, what prompts our “rulers” from looking at our own Needs? Instead, they seem to bend over backwards to accommodate alien systems, against some “agency commissions” that they seem to be receiving in return for the “services”!!! How do we stop this? More over, what happened to our Bharat Ratna’s (scientists, economists etc), who seem to be silently watching this purloining of our resources from the sidelines???

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  8. I think we have made our region poor, maily because of the inner reliance on God or Gods. We are confused between faith and teachings of our faith. We might believe in covering ourselves as muslims, but we do not know about inner Hijab, we might help the beggar on the road, but we do not understand community service. We as a region have not been able to escape from the boundaries our religions have set for us. We have forgotton the core of faith and religion and instead we believe strongly in the boundary system of faith and religion. Other than this we are still confused and have not been able to free ourselves from tradition mental slavery.

  9. Hi Ayesha
    Nice to read your philosophical observation.

    Faith may be thought of as an individual human characteristic, based on a combination of observational inferences and other impacts of human interactions. For example, when we “agree’ that Mount Everest exists … we do not accept that after seeing and being there on Mount Everest ourselves. Yet, we agree that Everest is a reality. This “acceptance” comes out of “objective faith” in certain human interactive information.

    Religion could be considered as “crowd faith”/collective faith, based on acceptance through “subjective faith” in statements and concepts of people who are considered “seers”, “saints” etc.

    Blind faith in all these would be a bit dangerous, and that is the real reason for many problems that we are witnessing the world over. We need to be dispassionate and pragmatic in order to overcome blind faith

    Best wishes…. Hariharan

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