Famous Brown Girl: Medha Patkar

14 Jun

This year, my Business Law professor focused on indigenous people in Central America displaced by the building of dams, such as the Panama Canal.  Though building such dams is meant to improve the often undeveloped country’s economic situation, it usually only benefits the upper class.  

Protests are often ineffective since the dam builders are usually the government aided by a first-world country like the United States.  I have great admiration for anyone who stands up to these powerful people to protect their land.


Photo: publicradio.org

Photo: publicradio.org

I recently discovered Medha Patkar, certainly deserving of Famous Brown Girl status for her social activism, most notably for going on a hunger strike to prevent the raising of a dam across the Narmada River in Gujarat, India.  

She was a leading spokesperson for the Narmada Bachao Andolan, an NGO seeking to mobilize those affected by the dam construction.  Though the Indian government ultimately struck down their appeals, Patkar and NBA raised awareness for the issues and people displaced. Patkar was honored with awards from the BBC and Amnesty International.

To learn about the issues surrounding dam construction, I recommend reading Confessions of An Economic Hit Man.

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