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Bali: A Culture in Decline?

Professor Windia: With Baliís Agricultural Culture Under Threat, the Daily Life of the Balinese is Also in Grave Danger

(3/2/2014) A professor emeritus at Bali’s Udayana University Dr. I Wayan Windia is warning that the destruction of Bali’s centuries old water distribution system known as subak will have an impact on every aspect of life in Bali.

Quoted by the National News Agency Antara, Dr. Windia said: “Concern for the destruction of the ‘subak’ through the changing function of agricultural lands and the siphoning-off of irrigation water for non-agricultural purposes has long been discussed in principle, but never really given serious consideration.”

Dr. Windia is head of the Subak Research Team at Udayana University.

Windia warns that if the Bali's subak system is destroyed the heritage and culture of Bali will follow that same path of extinction.

Continuing, he said: “If Bali’s culture is destroyed, then all sectors of Bali’s economy will also be destroyed. In the end, they are all inter-connected.”

Windia, who is a leading professor in the agricultural faculty, explains that all sectors of Bali’s economy are rooted in the local agricultrural culture, especially the tourism sector.

However, the fact of the matter, according to the professor, is that tourism is destroying agricultural lands and the subak system in Bali. In Windia’s view tourism is cannibalizing the farming sector.

“This has happened because the tourism sector in Bali has developed beyond the carrying capacity of the Island to accommodate such development,” he said.

Windia is urging urgent and serious attention be paid to this problem first identified in 1985 when a study supported by the government declared the "ideal" carrying capacity for international standard hotel rooms in Bali was only 24,000 rooms. That total has been long surpassed by more than 300% with the current number of rooms on sale in Bali estimated at between 80,000-100,000 rooms.

Windia decried that the government has failed to introduce the promised moratorium on new hotel development in Bali, with regents defending tthe regency's need for the wider tax base created by more hotels.

“Bali’s culture is the foundation of all segments of life on the Island,” warned Windia.