The three communities under study might at first be seen as unrelated profiles other than belonging in a southern part of the respective country as an indigenous populace, thus tentatively referring to the emerging half of the ‘North-South’ dichotomy. The present account is aimed at comparing and contrasting the three traditional setups toward a set of crucial implications that might carry over to more generalized contexts. It will be shown how the institutional, as opposed to market-driven incentives as well as impacts, have resulted in very different developmental scenarios despite common mechanisms and a uniform sustainability agenda that might potentially apply. The coverage will demonstrate how the standalone issues, e.g. of market or institutional dominance versus their preponderantly negative or positive effect, are closely intertwined and can hardly be treated independently.
San Bushmen of Kalahari
San or Saan could be seen as referring to the hunter-gathering profile, with Bushmen being a generic cognate that is more European than authentic in nature. In a sense, both names might be seen as inferior alternates, as neither one was a matter of self-reference from day one. On the other hand, San would seem less of a misnomer, when referring to a broad ethnic and cultural aggregate by the socioeconomic status or path.
It should be safe, as a first iteration, to view this San society of Kalahari desert as one living in harmony and building on strong informal ‘social networks’ that have nothing to do with digital technology or indirect media per se. Social interaction, as well as the capital, may have been so intense as to imply cohesion and preference for cooperative rather than competitive developmental equilibria. Although this community might incur heavy losses in terms of the opportunity forgone by failure to make full use of free and complete markets, still the leisure spared may have been placed a far greater value on, with an eye on self-actualization and stimulating social exposure.
Needless to say, this is where the core clash lies in, as the Western counterparts may have espoused second thoughts as to which ways the host environments should best attempt, with inherent segregation or divide driving the bulk of convergence mechanisms (Watson, 2013). Among other things, market economy and possibly democracy would soon be ushered in—predictably at odds with the local preferences, institutional legacy, and consent rather than weak majority-based social choice. In fact, it is by overlooking strong preferences and enforcing weak coalitions (that are inherently unstable, defecting, or corrupt) that the Botswana government was at one point engaged in seeing the San community displaced and relocated into reservations on a dubious claim of its long attempted switch into settled farming and mainstream infrastructural planning.
In fact, the very nature of property rights enforcement, as well as bargaining over these issues, has long been obscure or ill-defined by the very design of colonial and neo-colonial lawmaking and enforcement. Whereas, according to the English or US common law, the incumbent host or defendant would have every title to it's sustained, historically practiced customs and modes of living, that need not hold in overseas jurisdictions—much less in ones having little to no bargaining power as immunity against manipulative abuse.
It is no wonder that far from all of the displaced San hunter-gatherers were allowed to move back legally, as some of the government’s as well as Westerners’ property rights had by then evolved over a time span, too. Moreover, moving on to infringing on rights to natural resources and derivative or related intellectual property rights such as patents and trademarks was a natural next step in privatizing the San area plants to be used as medicines or obesity remedies. The silver lining could be about the fact that some reward sharing was bargained into and brokered, which could be made into a precedence to inform further conflict resolution or lawmaking.
In effect, on the pretext of securing a superior growth and development trajectory for the Sam people over the long haul, a major assault on their long-standing institutions was flagged with an eye toward the short-term windfall gains that accrued as a major ordeal to the folk under study. Worse yet, the overall negative impact or spillover had to do with effective destruction of a uniquely authentic culture that had long amounted to an anthropological gem.
The indigenous narratives spanning the colonial era likewise features the sad stories of ‘raid over trade,’ lost primordial harmony, and a ghettoized culture as the flipside of the mainstream iron cage. The bulk of that could apply to the Amazonian Yanomamo (or Yanomami) case largely the way it does to South Africa’s San, with the only major qualification being that no such harmony is perceived in the literature. By and large, this society has long been seen as a proverbially violent arrangement, with excessive cruelty appearing so abnormal within as well as outside it that forced institutional upheaval is seen as less of an awkward agenda. Somewhat superficially, then, Yanomamo could be viewed as San’s direct opposite for most practical purposes.
What is missing in this attitude is a willingness to appreciate the context or indeed the causality of the escalatory spiral that may or may not has shaped the institutions and socioeconomic designs accordingly. For one, a straightforward thought experiment or historical reconstruction could allow one to envisage how a desperate society reacts to a warp in their domain and standard of living—perhaps not so much with the advent of the European alternatives as it was during the more recent garimpeiro miner raids in the early 1990s.
It may well be that, unlike other indigenous tribes, Yanomamo (or Guaharibo authentically) could be neither bribed nor otherwise liaised into Western coalitions, which failed to cooperate came at a cost. On the other hand, even if there is little about the institutional underpinning or culture that could have stressed inferior equilibria over the optimal ones, the game may early on have collapsed to something affording second-bests only. It remains to be seen whether that excuses home violence, yet that propensity may not be rare-to-find elsewhere in emerging or ‘high-context’ societies while tending to aggravate out West as well, e.g. amidst recessions or crises.
Much controversy has persisted throughout the San and Yanomamo cases alike. Although formal ancestral land rights were acknowledged legally, this landmark decision has not been seen through at full (from the standpoint of the mining industry and the related interest groups). As it happens, unrestrained or rent-seeking growth in the mining sector could soon exhaust the natural endowments and milieu to a far greater extent than routine nomadic or gathering activities might possibly have done over a longer history horizon.
On the other hand, it is unclear which aspects of property rights and to what extent should reasonably be enforced. Among other things, it has yet to be shown whether the acknowledging of the land title would amount to or prove complementary with endorsing of the native tribes’ habitual modality or institutional excesses. One further concern would center on whether the indigenous people’s interests should be observed at full while overlooking the other stakeholders’ optimizing issues, as under the National Integration Plan that was undertaken by the Brazilian government back in the 1970s.
Yet another parallelism between the two cases could stem from the excessive hazards as coupled with displacement in areas known for a volatile climate. A compact traditional community may end up prone to a vicious circle of stagnation due to its small size that enables very limited technical experimentation as further threatened by small and reduced residential or migration areas.
The Ancient City of Amaravati
For Amaravati of Andhra Pradesh, the transition to modernity could be seen as having fared rather gradually in short time spans despite major upheavals over the long haul. To begin with, the original Hindu legacy had to compete with a variety of incidents of Buddhist rethinking and further retreats, as followed by Christian and Islamic incursions that were mixed in consequences (Appendix A). In fact, any of these domains ushered in major and complex effects in terms of the local demographics, economic issues, and cultural or institutional identity beyond formal rules of the game.
Mention was made about the ever-growing impact of foreign institutions that may or may not have spurred economic growth in rural areas with an eye on exposure to foreign trade or alternate business practices. By far the only domain that can be desolated with certainty has to do with Amaravati’s cultural and artistic value as a prerequisite for an ample tourist market to have sustained the local economy. It remains to be seen whether the pieces of art that migrated into the Western museums were looted and smuggled in the post-colonial era or served as shelters and means of sharing the artifacts with the rest of the world. In fact, some of the intangible values have remained ‘non-tradeable,’ which refers to the village’s remaining temples, Buddha statues, or Kalachakra festivities. In other words, the perceived value largely hinges upon the marketing constituent of the tourism or HoReCa sector (see Appendix B for qualifications).
In light of the above, Amaravati's participation in HRIDAY programs appears a natural solution along the sustainability lines of striking an optimum balance over economics concerns, the societal and otherwise stakeholder interests, and the natural or institutional environment in a long-term or inter-generational setup. For one, this could be seen as path dependence, with the ancient city’s cultural profile serving as the initial condition or indeed the permanent core of comparative advantage nationally. On a local (state or southern region) scale, that translates into a major competitive edge with the resultant infrastructural project proceeds to be weighed against the direct costs or incremental outlays, as well as the more latent losses such as negative externalities or spillovers—whether it be environmental or reputation hazards.
In effect, ongoing urban planning is a necessary response which cannot be avoided yet could be kept sustainable as long as the set of adequate solutions are fine-tuned against critical trade-off between short-term gains versus lasting flip-side shortcomings. The very name of the ancient city connotes eternity or continuity, with sustainable urban policies having to measure up.
When it comes to overlapping developmental areas, Amaravati’s instance appears to strike a tossup of institutional versus market-based convergence to the Western benchmark, and hence to the other two traditional cases. It has been shown how the phased-in Anglophone setup may have facilitated integration or lowered the transaction cost for the rest of the indigenous tribes, albeit at the cost of some interim decay in all of the legacies under study (featuring Dutch and Hispanic imparts, respectively).
For that matter, Amaravati has been subject to urban planning along the more favorable sustainability lines—somewhat at odds with the other two cases where market-driven incentives ushered in sheer rent-seeking and looting. It was perhaps this ancient city’s good luck that its unique cultural heritage was aligned to the market rationale to a greater extent than it came in as a constraint to be bypassed or optimized against.
In all of the instances considered, however, the policymakers’ incentives have revealed very similar structures that may have resolved to divergent outcomes due to the competing initial conditions, infrastructural add-ons, and competing causes such as scientific and research interests that tend to vary or shift.
In any event, it is important to appreciate that the public good or positive externality concern will unlikely dominate private or selfish interests in setups where permanent damage can hardly be undone. Symmetrically, the would-be loss, in terms of the social costs or negative spillovers involved, is difficult to sterilize from the standpoint of enforcement mechanisms on hand. These concerns have, among other things, been made evident throughout the recent episodes of en-masse destruction of millennial heritage in the Middle East.
All of the cases under study reveal some critical overlaps beyond southern origin in the broader as well as literal sense. Apart from the immediate survival trade-offs each indigenous society faced, they all had to confront direct rivals and less obvious external challenges alike. The latter largely stemmed from Western-style colonization whose repercussions have lasted thus far. However, the greatest challenge has been to weigh the longer-term yet latent developmental impacts of institutional convergence against the short-term gains as well as losses.
Ironically, many a time, the inverted trade-off would feature questionable quick gains amidst irrevocable albeit subtle permanent institutional shocks. It is unfortunate that the Western social planners or less scrupulous market agents have failed to discount their own short-term windfalls against the prohibitively large adverse externalities accruing globally in terms of these unique heritages being compromised.
For one thing, the interim decline of Buddhism would not dissipate the mainstream momentum when it comes to establishing the Theravada and Mahayana core. On the other hand, the canonical tradition would, later on, be reduced to the Tibetan, tantra style outlook bordering on some controversial pillars to be zoomed in on shortly. That can in part be seen as a natural development or response to the Islamic onslaught while lending itself rather well with the Hindu Krishna tradition. One other layer of institutional transition pertained to the British rule which did induce large-scale use of English and Hindi as lingua franca amongst a variety of disparate nations, along with the introduction of UK style common law that did not interfere with the local notions of either dharma or precedence. For all the excesses of colonial development, that secured inter-regional convergence and further integration, which is key to statehood formation.
On second thought, it is important to appreciate that the immaterial assets extend far beyond celebrations and daily attractions or the supplementary infrastructure. What Amaravati’s Kalachakra stands for is a prominent yet arcane area of the Tantric doctrine offering cues and clues to understanding some of the more dramatic developments, past as well as forthcoming. For instance, the controversial points on a Holy War may refer to either the sequence of crusades and Islamic expansion or a rationalization behind possibly violent immunity response on the part of the otherwise peaceful religion.
One alternate interpretation would, however, be just the reverse in pointing to inner strife with the selfish delusion or Maya, in an attempt at transcending rather than inducing these. In a sense, though, this might point to the likes of ‘inner’ jihad in Islam, or internal strife with own weaknesses or lack of comprehension, as one way of curbing outer violence. Put simply, the local cultural legacy may have been impacted in a variety of intertwined ways before it was in a position to affect distant cultures. On the other hand, it might appear astounding just how the inherent tantra duality has bridged religions as diverse as Hinduism and Buddhism beyond the common core of Kalachakra divinity.