The ReMembering and ReEnchanting Podcast

From Alternative to Mainstream: Local economies rapidly grow in India during Pandemic

April 26, 2020 Sarajolena
The ReMembering and ReEnchanting Podcast
From Alternative to Mainstream: Local economies rapidly grow in India during Pandemic
Show Notes

A long-yearned for ancient alternative is, with the Pandemic, now becoming mainstream. 

In rural communities across India, an ancient economic imagination is becoming a contemporary lived local economy. This tremendous moment is happening almost spontaneously, as producers, shut off from global markets and consumers, in need of locally sourced and accessible foods, are finding one another.  

 Our friend Ram Subramanian from Tamil Nadu, South India brings us the big-picture story, from memories of pre-colonial memories local economies embedded in agricultural, religious, medicinal and governance institutions to the past fifty years of small scale attempts at local economies that were always considered “fringe” to the sudden and dramatic growth of local economies due to the Pandemic and the recent government initiatives, including the most recent state-wide stimulus package, to support and grow this emerging new food, health, and lively livelihoods of an ecosystem.

You can find more information, including some of the early initiatives that led Ram and his team to co-develop state-wide policies supporting the same, on his blog.
Much work is still needed in this space, including mapping, learning, and giving funding to these local initiatives; and one should not listen to this and think that 'everything is great in India right now' - the ramifications of both the pandemic and the lockdown are far more complex! Nevertheless, this is a hopeful story that could absolutely be a marker on the turning point towards regenerative economies.

The Shape of this Episode:

1:50 – ReMembering pre-colonial local economies – an origin story

 National identity defined by fear and security systems vs by identity defined by culture and fearlessness

24:00 –  We have known and discussed local economies for the past 50 years, but the people discussing them were too abstract from the situation and were  not the actors who were able to make the change or they were seen as fringe. 

30:30 – what changed 

Is that the producer could not reach the far away market and so looked around and saw the local consumer, and the local consumer could not reach the far away market looked around and saw the local producer, and they said, oh! We can connect here. And the local government said, oh, we don’t have to wait for the lockdown to be over, we can support the local people here. 

39:00 Local government paying attention  and working towards internalization 

44:00 (ish) Increased acknowledgment and promotion of herbal practices by officials

 55 –  potential future contributions spiritual /religious contributions  and moving towards fearlessness

 The image for this episode is of traditional seeds from south India, placed together as a Ragoli decoration during a seed exchange festival for farmers that Ram's team organized in Auroville; photo taken by Ram and used with his permission.

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