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Modernization and Improvement
Development-Induced Displacement

Development-Induced Displacement

Good afternoon, everyone, and
welcome to the fourth edition of the Mellon Sawyer
funded Middle East studies seminar series on
displacement and the making of the modern world. The theme for today’s seminar
is Development-induced Displacement. Large parts of global
south, including South Asia, is witnessing rapid
industrialization and various projects that fall
under the rubric of development projects, forcibly
displacing millions of people from their land. Right around the middle
of the 19th century, Karl Marx in his
monumental work Capital wrote about primitive
accumulation or original accumulation of
capital concerning the origins of capital,
and consequently how class distinction between
possessors and non-possessors came into being. He used the example of
enclosures in 18th century England that deprived a
large number of peasants from access to common
land and of course, their tiny agricultural
plots, forcing them to become laborers
and migrate to cities where they did become laborers. Moving much later
and more recently, David Harvey’s work
has brought back focus on this aspect with
the concept of accumulation by disposition. At the same time, there are
organized social movements of the people who are
facing displacement that have been using collective
action to highlight their plight, as well as to
make their demands on the state. Today we have two speakers whom
I’ll be introducing very soon, an activist intellectual and
an activist turned academic, both working on India, who
will analyze the ideas that animate these protest
action and the development projects themselves. We also hope to
learn if there are alternative ways of seeing
the projects or the protest movements themselves. So let me introduce
the two speakers and the discussion for today. The first speaker
immediately to my left is Dr. Patankar,
who is a leading activist of the left wing
Sharamik Mukti Dal, which is the toilers’ group,
and of the peasants’ movement in
Maharashtra province, which is central Western India. He is an activist
intellectual who has worked for almost 40
years in movements of workers, farmers, dam evictees,
agricultural laborers, and drought
eradication movements, as well as alternative cultural
movements, women’s liberation movements, and anti-special
economic zone displacement as well as coal-based
power plant movement. He’s also worked on alternative
energy proposals, rights of farmers on windmills, and
radical anti-caste movements. He is one of the architects of
equitable water distribution movement in
Maharashtra province. His numerous books
and articles have been published, including around
20 of them in English language, because he primarily writes
in Marathi language, which is his mother tongue, and
also the provincial language. The second speaker
for today is activist turned academic
Michael Levien, who is the assistant professor in
the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. His research and
teaching interest fall in the fields of
development sociology, political sociology,
agrarian political economy, and social theory. He has a longstanding
intellectual and political engagement with the phenomenon
of rural land disposition for development projects,
such as dams and now special economic zones. And today the work
he’ll be presenting is a summary of his forthcoming
book, which is on displacement because of special economic
zones and mobilization, and what animates these
projects of displacement. And the discussant who’ll be
commenting on both these papers is Sarah Besky, who is assistant
professor of anthropology and international public affairs
right here at Brown University. She’s a cultural anthropologist
with research interests in environment,
capitalism and labor. Her book, The Darjeeling
Distinction, Labor and Justice on Fair Trade Tea
Plantations in India, published by University
of California Press, explores how legacies
of colonialism intersect with
contemporary market reforms to reconfigure notions
of value, of labor, of place, and of tea itself. And I’m your
moderator, Vikram, who works for the Mellon project. So let’s get started, and let
me invite the first speaker for today, Bharat. Vikram, should we stay
here or over there. I think that’ll be best
because then you can see the– Yeah. I express my thanks to the
university and the institute before I start
presenting my paper. The subject is displacement,
disposition, resettlement, rehabilitation in the primary
developmental paradigm. Displacement, which is forced
or disposition, which is forced, could take place
only in a situation where there is a possession. A person doesn’t
possess anything. Our community also
doesn’t possess anything. Then there is no
question of disposition. So if you start with
humanity, the question of displacement
in today’s manner, disposition in
today’s understanding, only could come in when
the settling of agriculture started. So people started saying that
this is our local standard. We are living in this area. This is the perimeter. Nobody should come in. This is our area. Maybe in the beginning it
was a corrective possession. Maybe afterwards it went on
becoming private possession of various people. But it became a possession. Before that, people were
having the areas around them. People were having
shifting cultivation. But only these foods could have
been where these foods were– in which area you should do
the shifting cultivation. So that was not a
possession in that sense. But this second
kind of thing, when the control of a stable
area started coming in and you define the
boundaries of the area, that we or me, I myself,
possess this area, then this possession
question comes up. And researchers maintain
rehabilitation only can come in respect
to this possession, shifting other people from
one area to another area. If somebody is resettling them,
and somebody is rehabilitating them, so the state comes in. And this is until there is
a concept of development, and this is until there is a
concept of state intervening in development. Both things are there,
and this is there. You cannot talk
about resettlement and rehabilitation. And this phenomenon only comes
after the end of feudalism, end of kingships, and emergence
of the democratic states of today’s modern democracy. Then state becomes more
alienated from any class, any section. And state represent
and poses itself as different, and a
system of economy. System of culture. Or it separates itself from
any class or theory, right? It says that we are
representing all. So in that sense, state starts
a function of development. So development–
the concept itself was not there before all this. The role of the state was
defined in a different way. And because people started
electing their representatives to run the state. So what representatives
are going to do for our development– this
kind of a concept in a society could come only with
this kind of a democracy. So we are talking in a
specific historical situation. In a specific
historical situation where there is a definite
kind of a private property, there is definitely a
kind of public property which is defined in a
different way than before. Like for example,
in tribal period, people defined their property–
not the public property. Their collective property. But here, public property would
mean a state’s property also. So in that sense,
the definitions which we are going to use and concepts
which are we are going to use, all these concepts are
historically specific. And not only that, they are
specific to contemporary period also. So this I mentioned
specifically because this is not an historical kind of a thing. This disposition was there
always in the human history, and it’s going to be there
always in the human history. That is not the case. So it may not be
there in human history if a different kind
of society comes up. So if different kind
of society comes up, then these questions
may not arise. So that I want to point
out in the beginning. So in this paper, I’m going
to present different processes of displacement and
disposition in collectively different
developmental projects, transitioning legal
provisions related to the separate settlement
and rehabilitation, struggle of people trying
to get displaced, or bringing about
formal laws which would make their
future more secure and becoming part of the
development process, which also should accommodate them. Character of developmental
process, which are really not development of a district here. Alternative
developmental paradigm, which would transcend
the established developmental process
and put forward a way towards a new
kind of government, which would avoid mass
displacement in dispossession. And lastly, united
struggles of people who are threatened to be
displaced and dispossessed, and remaining toiling people
who are supposed to get benefits of the so-called
development, or bringing alternative developmental
paradigm in reality. So these are the issues which
I am going to touch in short. A very big subject, but I
am going to very briefly go into the various aspects. First of all, I’m going to
make it clear that mainly I’m going to talk about India, and
specifically, about Maharashtra state of India, one
of the bigger states, second biggest state in India. It is bigger than United
Kingdom both area-wise and population-wise. The movement is there. And how they went towards
implementing the concepts which we are going to talk about. So I’m going to talk
about a state which has the first rehabilitation
law in the history of India. In 1976, Maharashtra came up
with a law for rehabilitation, and no other state had
its law of rehabilitation. No central government had
a law of rehabilitation, public rehabilitation. I’ll go into the characteristics
of that law later on, but that’s why Maharashtra
state state has a movement which is very different than a
movement, part re-settlement and rehabilitation in any
other states in India. So here the people came
together on non-party basis since before 1976. Actually, the struggle
against a power not having a particular
kind of dam process were started in Maharashtra
before independence. Around 1930s– ’32, ’33– there was a dam coming up–
a primary dam, which was getting diverted by workers. One of the topmost
capitalists in India. And that was a struggle
which was interwoven with the independence struggle. And that was the first
struggle, historically speaking, against this kind of
displacement and disposession. But after independence,
people were drawn into the expectations
for development. The British didn’t
allow us to develop, allow our economy to develop. So this development
should be taking place, the roads should be there. Roads should be broadened,
roads should be tarred. Various developmental things,
schools should be built, et cetera. And also, dams should be built. So this period was expecting
betterment of the population. Raising things up,
expectations which were imposed upon Indian people
by British colonial rule. And so people were
in the process of developmental projects, and
were voluntarily participating in developmental projects. But by early 1970s, there
was a very bad experience through which people went. And people started
saying that if we are going to have
development, development should benefit everybody. You should not
sacrifice some people, cut throats of some people. And you should not give the
benefits of the development to other kinds of people. And that’s why there
were struggles. And struggles didn’t say– like, you know some
moments in India also, like [NON-ENGLISH] moment said
there should not be any dam. No dam position was there. But this struggle in Maharashtra
in the early ’70s– ’73, ’74– like that– they said
that because Maharashtra is in this zone, monsoons
are not really reliable. And if there is no guaranteed
water supply, a captive water supply to the agriculture,
our development is not going to take place. We are going to remain stout. So dams should be built,
but the dam utilities are– electricity developing
projects should be done, but the displaced people
should be resetttled. And how they should
be resettled? That was a concept which was
contributed by the movement, saying that if you are going to
get benefited because of the– for example, the dam. So you are going to be
benefited because of the water, then we should
get irrigated line in the same area where
our water is going to go, where our villages
are submerged. And this water has
what our villages, and our lands, et
cetera, this water is getting supplied
to the combined area, to the irrigated
area to irrigate area which was dry before. So there we should
be getting resettled. Why? They gave the reason that
once you compare a land which has got no assured water supply
and a land which has assured water supply, then assured water
supply land will definitely give you tenfold more
production than the land which has got no
assured water supply. And they give the slogan that we
should be rehabilitated first, and there should be a dam
should be built afterwards. This doesn’t mean that
total rehabilitation should come first and
total dam should be built after that, because
this process becomes, then, an impossibility. They’re saying that
once first villages are to be picked and
lifted from there, they should be given land. They should be given
alternative township, and without very
modern facilities. So land in a irrigated
area, very modern township, part of the alternative reach– that is ready. You can go and stay there. If that situation
is there, only then you can affect our land,
our settlements, et cetera. That was the real meaning of
forced resettlement, and then dam. So this kind of a
struggle came up, and it forced the Maharashtra
government of that time to promulgate a law which
was called as the law to follow resettlement of
the project affected persons. This movement was
not a party movement. Various people from various
parties came together, and it was a federation
of the dam, organization of the dam utilities from
various affected people. But by 2001 or 2002,
because of the fact that the conceptions and
people’s expectations were not matching,
people’s expectations were going ahead of the
concepts of the development of the leadership, then the new
kind of organization came up. It was under the leadership
of this league which is called Toilers’ Liberation League. And that had given various
struggles since 1998 onwards up to now. So there are various
kind of stages in that. But here I should mention that
the reason the movement as a federation came up from
within the farming communities– from all castes of
all the communities– the second period
of the movement also came up from the
local communities, but there was no leadership
coming from outside and developing the movement. So the movement itself was
led by the people coming from the farming
community, coming from the rural
community, and also participated by all castes
and creed, and women– a majority of the women were
participating in the movement. Then I will mention about
the situation of people who were getting dam-affected. You will go to the
pre-independence era, you will see that
two kinds of people went to Mumbai as
an industrial city. Or characterize it as
an industrial city. An industrial city. One kind was the eastern slopes
of Maharashtra, Maharashtra Sahyadri, the Sahyadri Ranges,
which is higher in one area, and single crop economy. Agriculture economy. And there is a western
slope of the Sahyadri Ranges on the border of
the Arabian Sea, and that is, again, a single
crop and higher up economy. And the drought prone
areas of Maharashtra. One person from every
family went to Mumbai, and that person went there
to lift the luggages. Lift the weights. So you see the
porters in the docks, the porters on the railway
stations, then various markets. All this work was done by
these people from then on. So they were not able
to live off their land because there was a single
crop economy on one hand, and there was a drought
affected economy on the other. So they were not
really well-off people. The affected people were
not really well-off. All the women and children
remained in the villages, and these people
went to the cities. And there is a song also
by one of the great poets of Maharashtra,
and the Sahyadri, that my beloved
remains in the village and I am going to Mumbai. I always remember her, and
when will I go to my village and meet her, that
kind of a song, which was actually a movement song. But it is very much
a love song also. So it is a combination
of the two. Then I will go to the
character of 1976, other characters of 1976
Act, which would show you that what happened
to these people who were marginal farmers, landless,
or at the most middle farmers. So nobody was able to
live off their land in their own village. So the 1976 Acts here, which
was prompted by the movement– it was not willingly
promulgated by the government– but the struggle was there,
and it was six month sittings. Long drawn sittings. After that it was brought
forward in the assembly for approving it. So what was that? The person who had no
land in a reasonable age will get one acre. This is 1976. Not way back from then. Very old. Then 0-2 acres, the
person will get two acres. And from two acres
onwards to anything, they will get four acres. But this in irrigated area. If you cannot get this
land in irrigated area, you should give four
acres to the landless. And two months to buy our food,
eight acres to the middle slab, and 16 acres to
the highest level. So what difference does it make
for these people was this– one, that landless
became landholders in an irrigated area. So they were not that
much comparable to become almost slaves of the people who
wanted to use them as laborers. They had some economic autonomy. Then marginal and middle farmers
became very well-to-do farmers on the of basis of irrigation. And people having 50 acres
of land, 100 acres of land, 25 acres of land. All this went away,
and everybody came up to the four acres. So this is the limit. So that gap between the topmost
landholder and the landless was lessened because of the
rehabilitation, and people having no land or
almost no land, or marginal farming people,
they became a people who rely– at least they can
sustain themselves. And they are not forced to
migrate to the cities for very, very laboring manual work. Secondly, this also
gave a reservation– not exactly a reservation–
but the priority in employment. So 5% seats were given as
a priority in employment in governmental jobs. At the same time,
the government had supposing finance of the
cooperative sector– like sugar factories, or
anything like that. So this– whatever they
should do that’s financed by the government– you should also give priority,
5% seats, to these people. The main aspects were this. And then as the
movement went forward, some more important
aspects were added. So I will just mention them. The one aspect
which was added was that they should be given
a sustenance allowance up to the point they are not
getting alternative land. Now, this was a
meager allowance, but this was forced upon
them, and the government had to spend lots of rupees
because of the numbers of the people displaced. So the government
was sort of pinched for giving the land
as early as possible. But for some period,
government was supposed to promulgate a
government rule that they should give these allowance up
to the point their land doesn’t get water. So that allowance should stop
only when land is irrigated. So that kind of a
condition was there. Second condition over there,
whatever amount of money remains from the old
compensation of the land with the government. If you are not going to
get land within one year, then you will give interest
of 12% on that money to the babies. This is a tremendous amount. In some of the examples
in Maharashtra, they got the amount
of money which were double or triple than
the amount they deposited through the government. So this is definitely a
different kind of advance which they made on
the basis of this– otherwise you do rehabilitation
as early as possible. Third was that the law said
that supposing a father was the owner of the land, a
possessor of the land, then what would happen that
descendants were only the fathers and
father, mother’s son? So poor male
descendants of there, they will get only the equal
right to rehabilitation, for getting the benefits
of rehabilitation. But then there was a struggle. We said that no, why only
males are descendants? So in 2013, we were successful
in giving a struggle and making the government,
forcing the government to amend the law to say that all
the male and female descendants are to be treated equally,
and as equal descendants having equal rights for
getting rehabilitated. So this is, again, a
very different kind of item in relation with the
women’s liberation movement. I’m not saying that this
can bring the total women’s liberation into
practice, but there are small things which
are also very important, and they also have
not happened anywhere. They are possible here. And this also was possible
because a large number of women’s
participation was there. Women’s participation
is more than 50%. Why more than 50%? Because many people are
working in the cities, as I told you, as
minor laborers. So if you are having a
movement in the local area, women’s percentage
is definitely more. With this we also
demanded– and it was forced upon the government–
that our rehabilitation doesn’t mean that only land, irrigated
land, and that’s all. How we are going
to get employment? We are not going to get full
employment because of this 5% priorities while recruiting. Because government doesn’t
recruit continuously. So we said that there should
be special training given, and people should be trained for
various vocational functions. I’m sure that small industries
could be started in our village with the cooperation of
two or three villages. And so they should
have their own kind of employment generated
out of their own labor and out of their own
individual ideas. About the 2013 law– first law of central government
of India came in 2013. Basically this law doesn’t only
talk about land acquisition. One gets the impression
that its name starts with the
land acquisition, but it is also rehabilitation. So land acquisition
and rehabilitation law. This is first time that
the movement could include, because there was a committee
established in Maharashtra out of this movement
representatives to suggest some more
things in this law. So one suggestion was supposing
that a project is coming and you are given an
alternative to the project– you are saying that this dam
is going to get built here, and this is submerging
to say 100 people– then the same dam could
be divided into two– one here, and one downstream. So submergence gets reduced
but the amount of water stored is same, and benefitted
zone remains the same. So what is the problem? Economic expenditure
also is the same. And the movement proved
in one of the cases that one dam was
divided into three dams, and 80% of the
displacement was saved. And 20% people were
displaced, and could be rehabilitated in a nearby area. A nearby area. But 80% of the
displacement could be avoided because of
this, and one principle was established that you
can give alternatives. And this law provides that if
on the scientific, technological basis, alternative
is given by people, then you can put it forward
and it could be implemented. Same thing we did about
[NON-ENGLISH] with a dam. There was engineer
called [INAUDIBLE],, and some other people from
people’s science movement in Maharashtra, and they
came up with the proposal that another dam could be
frozen up to 100 meters height. So 75% of the rehabilitation
could be avoided, and water would be provided
to the drought areas. So both are satisfied,
and rehabilitation becomes an easy project. But that was not accepted by the
movement which was at that time working there,
and we couldn’t go against the people’s movement. But now the dam is built.
People are displaced, and the dam is going
to get fully built. And this alternative is not
going to be implemented. But it is still possible
that this alternative is a technically
workable alternative. Thirdly, you can also
give alternatives. Supposing there is an
airport expansion is coming. So we can give an alternative
because this law says that if it is a cultivatable
land, or irrigated land, then if you give alternative
of the barren land, then project should be
shifted to the barren land. If it is irrigated land,
it could be shifted towards a non-irrigated land. It would not get irrigated
any time in the future. So this kind of alternative
was given for the airport, and the airport’s struggle
was victorious on this point that there is a
place where there is a barren land which
is not cultivated, couldn’t be cultivated. And it is good for
a bigger airport than this instead of
expanding the smaller airport. So they couldn’t
argue against this. But what I’m saying is that
this niche in the law, 1913 law, was created, which is
now useful for people. At the same time,
I would tell you one more example of
the coal waste project in the area of Maharashtra. The Amanis, which are the
topmost capitalists of India, and probably one of the
capitalists’ names in post 20, or 50– I don’t know. Their company was establishing
a coal-based power plant in a nearby district
of Maharashtra. So we said that this
area, people are producing a bumper crop of the rice,. 25 bundles per acre, which
is incomparable in India. And again, a crop
in [INAUDIBLE].. And also, especially
in the ocean. Because it is an
ocean-related area. It is a coastal area. And this generates
this much amount of electricity, the employment. If you are saying
that this project is going to bring in
employment in kokum, then it is not
going to do it here. Because only 300 people
are going to get employed. Others are going
to get devastated. So employment argument
doesn’t stand. Secondly we said that
out of the brand of– from the rice husk, and here’s
other parts of the standing rice, you can
produce electricity in a very modern way. You can produce electricity. At the same time,
windmills could be the– people can build more windmills,
establishing windmills in a cooperative way. And also, waves
of the ocean could give some kind of electricity. So why you are posing this
polluting, maximum polluting kind of a thing? No generation of the employment,
and unnecessary, costly electricity will be
imposed on people. And that went on for
five or six years. A very strong
mobilizing was there. And tenacious
struggle was there. By that time they
had illegally gone to position up the land
and name of the government, and the monies were put
on the land records. And now it is reversed. And with their own record, land
now belongs to the farmers. So this is 22 villages that
are going to get affected. So why I mention this is that
this could be related to what kind of development we want. Whether electricity
could only be produced on the basis of matter,
on the basis of the coal– if it is possible
to have electricity on the basis of
other things which don’t require this
much amount of land, or which can have the cropping
as well as electricity production at the same
time, why don’t you do that? About the windmills in India
also, it dispossessed farmers. We say then, why you
are dispossessing us? The wind doesn’t belong to you. Wind is a new factor
in production process. What is wind? What do you pay for the wind? If you are not paying for the
wind, then what kind of a wind you are doing and
what kind of a price you are giving to the land? So if you are not
buying this land or you are not acquiring this
land, because land is fertile or not, it is simply because
the density and velocity of the wind or my
land is of your use for producing electricity. So why not farmers themselves
have these windmills? Why dispossess them, and we
start some other kind of oil companies– some American
companies are also there– why they should come
there, and they should have this kind of a thing? So in various ways, people
are also accepting it. Trying to have an alternative
developmental paradigm. Why natural environment could
be used for strings and twines? For example, small timber
could be used instead of steel. It is proven by some
experts in India that these things really could
be used in a different way. So there are
possibilities and there are advanced technological
possibilities, on the basis of which,
even for building roads you have this steel grid
and you have concrete roads. So why you should not
have a power grid– treated power grid? It is also tried and true. But people who are– for example, diesel. Why there could be
only the natural gas, or that kind of a thing you
should use for the cars, and et cetera? So you can have
bio-diesel, bio-petrol. How much money you are investing
into research and development for this, for
thinking about this, for researching in
this, for finding out new ideas about this? So people are going for
that kind of a demand now, that these projects are not
really developmental projects. These projects are
polluting projects. These projects are
destructing projects. And these projects are
devastating people’s lives. So governments
should give a type of alternative
developmental paradigm based on renewable and
ecologically balanced ways of production. And it might then make a
difference between the cities and where you can
do reorganization. Some of our people
say reorganization; not organization, but
reorganization of a new kind. So I’m coming to
the end with this. Lastly, I’ll just read some
things, and I will stop. How am I on time? You have five– seven minutes. Two or three achievements could
be useful for the movement. So what we did, we imposed
before on the government that supposing we are
starting to build a dam– so you are at the
foundation level. Some kind of a land is
going to get affected. Before you even
test that land, you have alternative village
and alternative land. So you have a total program. You come to this level. The alternative is there. So people can go and– first time in history, we are in
Maharashtra alternative program up on one end, dam building. On the other end,
a rehabilitation. And at the same
time, rehabilitation with the irrigated land. At the same time, what
we did is that our water movement of the drought-prone
area people and the dam movement, they came together. So there was no opposition. People in the
benefitted zone now are that the dam
should be built, and affected people
are going to say the dam should not be built. So we said that we want the
dam– all of us want the dam. We always want it. Ensure water, ensure irrigation. So we come together and
fight for equal development distribution. Equal development meaning by
that supposing I got no land, I should get an
amount of water which is sufficient for using on
land to produce sustainable production for my family. So in terms of biomass, by
international standards, on the basis of
various studies are necessary for this
kind of assistance. So how much water is required? Experimentations
were done, and we said that 500 cubic
meters of water per family would be given to every family. What amount of land
doesn’t matter. Ownership per
person also will get that that of water,
and landless also will get that amount of water. So every family gets equal
amount of water and sustenance. If water remains, then it
would be given commercially to the people having more land. So productivity
would be increasing for the nation’s national
GDP growth in each sector. Last month this
alternative was under way of really priming itself
from inequitable distribution to equitable distribution. So 10 years we studied
along with engineers, and nowadays it is proved
that water is there. Conjunctive use of water
can make it possible, and equitable water
distribution is possible within the same
economic parameters as they were talking about,
cost-benefit ratio. So if that is the case,
then beneficiaries are more. And that would increase
the GDP much more than– and GDP not only at
the national level, but GDP means human welfare
index also will be increasing, not only in terms of economy. So this kind of a
thing was possible because dam abilities and
benefitted zone people came together, and
they went further with the alternative
in the water sector. So water would remain
a public property. It cannot go to the people more
in quantity who are owning more land, but it would be equalized. Equalized for sustenance,
equalized for one’s betterment on the
basis of one’s labor. So this is a rare
example where you can see that people who
are supposed to be opposing sections to each other
are coming together, and they are winning the fight
for a new kind of water regime. So I will just read,
then, the provision for the first rehabilitation
and then construction of the project. This is now– legal provision
is done in Maharashtra. I don’t think it is
there in 2013 law, but it is in
Maharashtra state law. So you cannot go on building– you just can’t go to the
court, not like before, that we have to struggle. But you can go to the court
and bring the state now if they are not
doing this process. Provisional for the maintenance
allowance to the PAPs. If alternative land is
not given, including the interest on the deposit kept
with the government by the PAPs up to 12% rate of the interest. If the original landowner has
died before rehabilitation– I told that equal
rights, so all the male and female descendants,
bringing gender equality by including female
direct descendants becoming independent PAPs. Heavy penalty and
criminal action against the person
obstructing PAPs from cultivating PAPs
and affected persons. Cultivating alternative
land given to them. Landless, marginal farmers,
and small landholders affected zone people will
get more land than they held before rehabilitation. Big landowners
get alternate land in a benefited zone, which would
not make them as big landowners as to dominate the
erstwhile weaker sections. Thus there is a
redistribution of land, not only among the
affected people, but also among the
benefited zone landholders because their land
is to be taken out for giving alternate land
to the displaced people. So there is also equalization in
a benefited zone, equalization in this zone. Both zones there
is equalization. Armament was provided
giving maintenance allowance not only up to the point
PAPs get alternative land, but up to the PAPs getting
their land irrigated. Was redrawn, but now also order
that 15,000 rupees per month should be given as a
maintenance allowance to the PAP whose land is now
given irrigation facilities. Because of the
pressures at the moment, the government was forced to
provide for self-help groups, self-groups of PAP families,
women and men, and provision for the development of
skills of young people also was done by the government. This gives an instrument in the
hands of the movement of PAPs to have their alternative
developmental paradigm, and get it implemented
with primary help from the government in the
beginning of the project, which are part of this paradigm. And the last here is
reviewing that this is not remaining at this
level, but this is becoming an alternative
developmental movement. It is now becoming not a
movement for resettlement and rehabilitation,
but movement for having alternate developmental
paradigm to be implemented, and so that development
is redefined. So if development is defined in
a polluting, destructive, and– the nature, as well as
destructive to the human beings, then that
is not development. So this is our alternative. That should be brought forward. There was a tradition
in Maharashtra, in Kerala, that in the past,
people-science movements helped these kind of
movements to come forward with alternatives. So technological kind of
research, and other things could be pulled together
by the movement. And then government
could be pushed to spend more in
research and development on the basis of people’s demand. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Bharat. I would now invite Mike to
come over and take charge. All right. First, I’m very
excited to be here, and I want to thank first
Vikram for organizing this and inviting me to it. I’m also very honored
to be on a panel with Mr. Patankar, who has done
so much to fight dispossession practically, and kind of improve
the outcome for many people who are displaced. Really having a large impact
on the lives of many people. So I’m very excited to be
here and on the same panel. I’ll also thank Sarah again
when she comes back in the room, but I want to thank her
for commenting and reading the introduction to
my book manuscript. And I want to thank
you in advance for comments and criticisms. Because I’m going to present the
argument of a book in progress, and I still have time
to revise it because I’m waiting for revisions
to come back. So any suggestions you have
will be really appreciated. So I’m going to present the
main argument of the book, which is titled right
now Dispossession without Development. If you have a better title,
I’d really appreciate it. I really hope that’s
not the final title. I really can’t think of
a better one right now. And that’s going to sacrifice
some depth because I want to give the whole
argument of the book rather than focus
on one chapter. But I’m happy to talk about
anything in more depth. Thank you again, Sarah, for
reading the introduction to the book. So the book’s an ethnographic
study of villages in Rajasthan who had their land dispossessed
for one of the largest private SEZ’s in North India. And I’d really ask
how their relationship between dispossession
and capitalism has changed in
post-liberalization India, how have things
changed from the period of state-led development,
which large dams were the main story to the
post-liberalization era, when new forms of dispossession have
become increasingly prominent. And what are the
consequences of the shift in the political economy of
dispossession for farmers, when they are dispossessed? And how has it transformed
the politics of dispossession in India? And in answering
this question, I challenge some of the existing
theories of the relationship between dispossession
and capitalism, and offers an alternative. With this audience,
I think I can skip a little bit of the
context, which is namely that it’s really not
obviously a new phenomenon to have land dispossession
or land grabs as becoming a kind of big deal globally. But a lot of recent
literature is focused on transnational
agricultural investments in Africa or Latin America. Arguably, India and China
are the global epicenters of land dispossession protests. And I don’t know how
many of you are aware that, I mean, in the
last decade or so, while they were kind of
groups that for a long time, like Mr. Patankar is like, the
nominal struggle right there. Been struggling against
this for many decades, it’s only really in
the last 10 to 15 years that these
anti-dispossession struggles have shot to the center of
national attention they really struggled to get
for a long time. This gives you a kind of sense. This is just the yearly
mentions of land acquisition, which is the term
commonly used in India. This is yearly mentions of land
acquisition at times of India. So you see it’s fairly
steady until about 2007, and that’s when Nandigram and– 14 farmers were massacred
in West Bengal for refusing to give their land for an SEZ. And at that time these
kind of land wars start really popping up
everywhere and getting a lot more attention, and
becoming electorally salient and actually arguably
deciding some elections and force this big change to the
land acquisition law in India, finally, in 2013. By one estimate, capital
projects worth 3% of India’s GDPR are now
stalled due to so-called land acquisition problems. So it’s easier to convince now
people that land acquisition, that land dispossession
is a kind of big deal. I think that existing
theories of the relationship between dispossession
and capitalism are actually adequate
to understand this. But quickly, because the theme
of this series is displacement, I thought I should mention
why I use dispossession rather than displacement. To me, displacement
doesn’t quite get at the kind of coercive
and redistributive element of the phenomenon that
I’m talking about, that states are taking land
from one group of people forcibly and giving
it to another. Displacement was the term
that in the ’70s and ’80s when movements kind of forced
this issue onto the agenda of governments, institutions
like the World Bank– this became known as
development-induced displacement. You had the World Bank
paying anthropologists and sociologists
to look into this and kind of develop safeguards
for so-called project-affected people or families. And then you also had
more critical scholars who were doing work on this who
are also using similar terms. I think that displacement
just doesn’t quite– first of all, it
seems to just happen. Displacement just
kind of happens, whereas I think
dispossession gets at more of the relationship
of dispossession. That there’s a
coercive relationship, that resources have been
taken from one group and given to another. There’s also more of an
emphasis on emplacement, and the kind of
displacement from that. It’s not necessarily
not important, but it does have in
some uses a very highly draconian connotation about
people kind of embedded in place, and so on. But I mean, it’s
not just nitpicking, but I think that, to me,
the more problematic use of the term is when it’s used
as a compound phrase, which is development-induced
displacement. Because that really
to me assumes what needs to be
explained or questioned, which is actually whether
the result of dispossession is indeed development, and what
development means, and for who. So that’s why I
use dispossession. And I argue that
there are basically three theories of
the relationship between dispossession
and capitalism. The first one I call
the modernization theory of dispossession. This is familiar. It’s common sense, really,
because it’s arguably embedded into the very word
improvement, which comes from the English enclosures. They argue that dispossession
is the necessary and inevitable cost of development. This is, I think, more
of a normative, political justification for dispossession
than an analytical theory, per se. But I do give examples
of people who, today in the context of debates
around land dispossession, kind of fall into this category. I mean, I think that
the problem with it is that it’s more of a
normative justification for the unlimited, really,
upward distribution of property. And it doesn’t really capture
variation and dispossession over time and place. So is dispossessing
land for the dam the same as dispossessing
for a Formula One race track? Has dispossession
now changed for– is dispossession
in contemporary day any different from
the way it used to be? So those kinds of
questions it simply can’t answer, and sort of
explain then, therefore, why the consequences
of dispossession might have different
distributional consequences, different political consequences
in different periods. OK, I could go on, but
I’m going to move on. This is what I think
Vikram started out with, which I call the
dialectical-redemptive theory of dispossession. This is Marxist theory of
primitive accumulation, the idea that dispossession is
not just necessary because it contributes to
improvement or growth, but because it’s a necessary
stage in the transition to capitalism, and
therefore socialism. So embedded in this
argument is a set of assumptions about how
capitalism generates socialism. I think this theory
is also anachronistic. It’s not really useful anymore. I could go into
depth, but I don’t know how much people are
really interested in this or invested in this concept. Because I’ve written a lot about
it, but I don’t want to get stuck on it. But I think that the
main problem with this is that today
dispossession is clearly not an original
transition to capitalism. I mean, dispossessed
land for SEZs, or Formula One race tracks,
or real estate projects– this is not part of a
necessary, inevitable transition to capitalism. It’s driven by advanced
capitalist demands for land, very little– often increasing the
requirement for the labor power of the dispossessed. And indeed, a lot of
contemporary forms of land dispossession are for
purely speculative purposes. And I don’t think in
any way they’re not informing industrial
proletariat, and I don’t think we can say
in any way they’re creating the foundations for socialism. So I think adherence
to this concept is not only kind of
nonsensical, but it actually turns Marxist into kind of
the B-team for modernization theory. I think that’s what
a lot of Marxists have become in a sense. They’re the backup team. And once this assumption’s
no longer whole, you’re just kind of cheering
along the same processes. And then therefore also has
the same analytical failings as the modernization theory. Then of course, there’s
the predatory theory. This is what I would label
Harvey’s theory of accumulation by dispossession. You could put other
people in here– Massimo, D’Angelis– the
assassin’s book on expulsions. The idea is that
dispossession is the predation of sub-altering
populations, vaguely defined by neoliberal capitalism. Now this is probably closest
to what I would argue. But I think there’s a
few problems with it, and I’ll focus on Harvey. One is that it builds a theory
of dispossession in general from a specific analysis
of neoliberalism, right? So Harvey has this analysis
of over-accumulated capital in the global economy, and reads
every instance of dispossession in the world off of
that, which I don’t think is true or useful exactly. It also doesn’t really
capture the State, which is a crucial
actor in dispossession. So it’s a very poor
political sociology, I think, in the various renditions
of this theory. It can’t capture variation
over time, but also over place, like how is politically
economic forces driving dispossession in India different
from Brazil, and so on. And because of the high
level of abstraction, it just never gets into
the everyday process of dispossession, and
what its consequences are for people, why people resist in
some places or not, and so on. All right, so my
argument is we should think in terms of
regimes of dispossession. Starting point is to say,
look, land dispossession is a social relationship. It’s a social
relation, of course, of redistribution, most
often mediated by states. And while capitalism
creates systematic pressures to dispossess, the precise
form of accumulation, and class interests,
driving dispossession vary across time and
across uneven geographies of capitalist development. So we can think of
dispossession as being organized into socially and
historically specific regimes. Regimes of dispossession
are political apparatuses for coercively
redistributing land. There’s an analogy here
to regimes of production that can be differentiated
by the form of accumulation and associated class
interests that drive them, and by the means through
which they produce compliance to the dispossession. So different regimes
of dispossession have different ways of
making people comply. We have to understand
then how different regimes of dispossession interact with
particular and diverse agrarian milieu. This interaction,
I think, produces– gives us a better
ability to understand the kind of divergent
political responses to dispossession, why
some people comply in some situations
and resist in others, and permutations in between. When it does
generate compliance, it enables specific
trajectories of economic change and inequality, not
development, which is a kind of generic normative
term that really doesn’t capture these variations. And my argument is the
payoff of this thinking this way is that it’s
natural as a dispossession as this kind of necessary,
inevitable process, right? So it allows us to
dispath with that. It also helps us to see the
contingency of dispossession and where it can be stopped by
noncompliance of real people with their dispossession. All right. So that’s abstract, but
I’m going to put now some kind of flesh on that. The main book, after
the introduction I have a historical
chapter, which is really telling about the story of
the genesis of the land broker state, so a shift
from what are called developmental regime
of dispossession to a neoliberal regime
of dispossession. I’m actually toying with
whether I should actually call this basically a
state productivist regime of dispossession, and a
private speculative regime of dispossession. Because I don’t want to
imply that this was really development. But in this period,
roughly from independence until the early 1990s,
the Indian State mostly just dispossessed
land for large public sector infrastructure. Large dams were
by far the biggest source of dispossession,
with tens of millions of people displaced. Public sector industry was
another big thing– steel plants, industrial estates,
and so on, and other kinds of associated infrastructure. But almost all of it was
in the public sector. It was actually legal to acquire
land for private companies. But in practice, because the
development model was rarely actually done, most
of the land consumed was for these projects. They also reflected
these kind of commitments of the developmental
state, which were never fully successful, to create
balanced regional development, labor intensity, and so on. The way industrial states
were kind of scattered throughout the country. So there were those
kinds of emphases that didn’t always actually work. And of course, the promise,
as Mr. Patankar was saying, of irrigation was
that all these farmers would improve their incomes
and increase food production. Now I wouldn’t say that
this was some golden age of dispossession. For the most part, the
resettlement and rehabilitation policies were non-existent. The competition
was extremely low. The people dispossessed
for these projects, except for in a few cases– I think because of
Mr. Patankar’s work– I’ve only come across– there’s
a pretty big literature, at least from the ’70s onwards– there’s very few positive
cases that you can find. The vast majority of people
who gave their land were just absolutely impoverished,
given very little, almost never given housing. Or common resources
weren’t recreated. Very, very seldom did
they actually get land in the command area of dams. I think this is one of
the only ones, right, and I think there was
another case in Orissa– very few. There’s a few cases in which
political agitation allowed people to get jobs in
public sector industries, like in steel towns. But for the vast
majority of cases it’s pretty dismal actually. But the Indian State
or Indian states were quite successful
in producing compliance in dispossession through
a combination of appeals to the national
interest, appeals to the national development,
as Mr. Patankar discussed, plus a good dose of coercion. When people didn’t
want to go, the police were called in repeatedly. And many people were beaten. People were flooded
out of their villages without warning, and so on. All right. So not a golden age
of dispossession, but dispossession for a
different phase of capitalism. In the 1990s,
though, things start to shift towards a different
development model, increasingly driven by private
capital for increasingly non-labor absorbing and
speculative purposes. So how did this happen? Briefly, economic
liberalization in the 1990s unleashes private
demand for land. Increasingly for
non-manufacturing activities, because in these
manufacturinrs sector they’re not not very dynamic. Same obstacle to consolidating
large plots of land– that was always a problem for
public sector industries there. Now it becomes a
bigger problem when you have this huge
private demand for land. Now when incentivized states
get into this business of just dispossessing land for
any kind of private capitalist that wants it was partly to
increase interstate competition for investment, which
really takes off in the early 1990s with the
dismantling of the license permit Raj, right? Which controls where
industries can be located. So now states are
competing with each other for footloose capital. At the same time, there’s all
these licit and illicit rents that states can kind
of capture by getting into the business of acquiring
land for private companies. And that was also
a big incentive. The result is that pretty
quickly after liberalization, state governments morph into
like land broker states. And these are
government agencies that are advertising land for
entrepreneurs and builders and so on, that’s
all forcibly acquired through eminent domain,
land acquisition act. Also the enclosure
of grazing lands in the peripheries of cities. All right. So this starts in the 1990s
and really reaches scale in the mid-2000s, with
India’s economic boom and real estate boom. So for land broker
states, maximizing what I call the rate of
accumulation by dispossession becomes the end of
dispossession itself. So capturing this
increment between what you’re paying to farmers
and the market value becomes actually
the only purpose, devoid of any other so-called
developmental considerations. Now some of this,
the government keeps. So P2 is the price at which
the government agency sells to the private capitalist. P3 is the market value that
that private capitalist is able to capture once
they have resold that land. So the public increment creates
this government revenue, which is actually quite a lot,
much more than municipal taxes for a lot of urban
development authorities. And then the private
capitalist captures– and this windfall’s huge– very often as I’m going to show. All right. So most of the book, though,
looks at then the collision between this new regime
of dispossession, of increasingly speculative,
non-labor absorbing forms of dispossession
with a cluster of villages in Rajasthan. This is roughly where it
is, pretty close to Jaipur. Most of the SEZ’s or close
to cities or near ports, because that’s where the
real estate values are. Let me say a little bit about
the particularly milieu I studied. Main village I
did ethnography of was over 400
families near Jaipur, the state capital of Rajasthan. In 2005, it was one
of nine villages that lost a total of 3,000 acres,
2,000 private land, 1,000 grazing land for the
Mahindra World City SEZ, which is one of the
first big private SEZ’s to actually get
built in North India. A few things I would say
about agrarian milieu that are important to what unfolded. One of them was
rain-fed agriculture, and that’s a single cropped in
the context of increasing water scarcity in the region. So people are diversifying. Most families are partly
at least diversifying into different kinds of either
wage labor or self-employment. High levels of
inequality, which reflect the failures of land reform in
post-independence Rajasthan, like many parts of India,
but which was characterized by a kind of structured
princely rule, in which you had a landlord that
controlled all the land, and they evade land reforms,
as I’ll show quickly. But then also the
dominant caste farmers come out of the
process with most of the land and a relatively
quiet political history. People say this about a
lot of parts of Rajasthan, but under princely rule,
it was not one of the areas that people write about with
a long history, a rich history because of insurgency. Now these features,
combined with the Rajasthan government’s market-based
compensation policy– which I’ll explain
more in a second. But instead of giving
farmers just the low price, they gave them little plots
of land next to the SEZ that would have
real estate value– prevented a land
war in this village, which is why I went
to actually study it. Because you could see what
a built SEZ would look like while they are being
resisted in many other places across India. But I also argue this
made the Mahindra World City probably the best SEZ to
be dispossessed for in India. And so it’s kind of a limit
case for the modernization theory of dispossession. If dispossession is to be
really developmental anywhere in contemporary India,
for this it might be here. Now the fieldwork was
ethnographic fieldwork between 2009 and ’16. Most of it was
between 2009 and ’11 with follow-up visits
every year or two. I also did a survey of 94
households in four villages. And methodologically I’m using
the extended case method which I talk a little bit more about. But it’s about looking out and
connecting the micro processes of village life and
connecting those to macro forces
of dispossession, and extending thereby
from the case to theory. So you’re not arguing that
every village in India or SEZ is like this one, but that by
studying the micro-processes in this life gives us some
purchase on the larger social forces that have
kind of broader remit, even if they play
out differently in different locations. All right. So then I look at the
immediate consequences of this redistribution of land. First the accumulation. So there is
accumulation that this makes possible within the SEZ. What was that? That was mostly real
estate speculation and knowledge-intensive growth. So first there is this
kind of huge windfall despite that the SEZ
developer by getting this land acquired from the
government and being able to resell it
to other companies and to private real
estate investors– What is ABD? That’s the rate of
accumulation by dispossession. So that’s the discrepancy
that I showed on the graph. And I calculated it
using various pieces of data I got from interviews,
through Right to Information Act. But that was about 250%
on the industrial land, and now it’s
probably about 1,500% on the residential
part of the SEZ, which is half the land
that was acquired for them. And then it’s not
simply real estate. But you have to get these
producing companies into it, and consistent with
India’s growth model– in which the knowledge IT
and IT-enabled services are the most dynamic sector. Most of this was IT and IT
industries coming in here. And that’s true of
2/3 of India’s SEZs are kind of focused
on that sector. And they’re
basically going there because it’s a tax haven,
pretty straightforward actually. Now, the flip side of this
accumulation inside the SEZ is a dis-accumulation
within the village. Now when I first came to the
village, Mahindra executives, I first interviewed
them and they said, well when we first came, there
was nothing in this village except for prickly bushes
that got caught in your pants and so on. But I know we see this
again and again actually, going back to English enclosures
and cases of dispossession, this claim that the
land’s unproductive, the people are
backward, and so on. And yes, it was single
crop agriculture. But what you find is that
when you take the things away, there’s quite a
lot of consequences that came from losing the land. I mean, obviously farm
incomes, means of subsistence are kind of destroyed. Over 2/3 of livestock
herds had to be sold off for lack of fodder. And this is an area where
actually, the livestock industry was relatively
profitable because of proximity to Jaipur. And also, obviously, important
means of subsistence. This was a really big issue. Fuel wood, other resources
from grazing land. So less important
issue, but important. And a really big issue was
the worsening water scarcity. So actually, the SEZ
wound up paving over the big tank in the village. And a lot of people’s
wells were on their land. And this all made the
village increasingly dependent on tanker water that
was brought in from villages near this small town,
Sanganeer, which these villages near
that town only had water because they were getting
industrial runoff from block printing mills. So actually people were drinking
toxic water in the village. It was tested. All right. So that’s basically the kind of
accumulation, dis-accumulation that immediately results
from the loss of land. Now I’ll turn to the kind
of net effect of this on household income,
food security, well-being after looking at the median
effects of land speculation and employment. But the point for
now is that it was against the substantial losses
that any subsequent gains were measured. And those gains to the extent
that they came entirely through real estate speculation. So the main effect of
putting this SEZ down in the middle of villages that
are dependent on single crops agriculture and
livestock rearing was to create a tremendous
real estate boon. As soon as– actually
before this is announced, investors start coming
to this land from Delhi, from Mumbai, from Jaipur, from
Dubai, probably from the US. NRIs start buying up land
all around these villages through a strata of local
brokers that emerge. You have big companies
coming in creating kind of these types of
real estate colonies. There actually was nothing,
even really fancy facades. There’s nothing behind them
because the financial crisis hit pretty soon after. So it was mostly fancy facades,
and then a lot of vacant land being grazed on by goats. But these things got
bought up really quickly. And the land prices go
from like, rupees to lakh, so that’s like $4,000– a bigha which is like– there’s four bighas
to a hectare. It goes to like, 25,
like really quickly. And now it’s over a crore. So I mean– Vikram, you want to
translate that for me? 10 million rupees. So we’re actually talking, I
mean, unbelievably expensive real estate. More expensive than in
Baltimore, where I live. It’s really quite
astronomical land appreciation that happens really quickly. So you get these brokers
that emerge everywhere, and the land sales
in this village peak really dramatically. What’s interesting is
that, so up until 2004 you never really had more
than 10 real estate land sales in a year. 2004 is interesting
because the project is not actually announced until 2005. So what this means is
that people are tipped off by government officials who
knew that this SEZ was coming, came in and bought up land, and
a lot of them through– it’s called Benami companies, right? Front companies, basically. And then you have this
huge boom, dips a bit with the financial crisis,
has come back up a little bit. All right. And then this is what was
novel about this project. Though it’s increasingly
being practiced elsewhere, I believe also in
parts of Maharashtra, which is that instead of
giving farmers this sort of– giving them three
lakh per bigha. They give them
these little plots of land, a quarter the size
of their original land. And so the idea was that the
market value of that land would go up because
it’s near the SEZ. And farmers would benefit
from that appreciation. But what I’ll show is this was
key to generating compliance, not because people consented–
there was no negotiation, there was no consent– but it did individualize
people’s relationship to the project. So different people, you
know, calculating, can I benefit from this and so on. It really fractured the
village on the basis of people’s ability to
navigate land markets. Now their people’s
very unequal ability to navigate those
land markets quickly became the main determinant
of upward mobility of people’s socioeconomic trajectories. But the point of departure
for those trajectories was the preexisting agrarian
class and caste structure. I want to do this
just very quickly. This is too many numbers. What we can see is that– I’ll just do this very quickly. The upper caste had
a lot more land. They had a lot more
shops and businesses. That had a lot more
formal sector employment. And they had a lot more formal
employment or business outside of the village, which was
important because that gave them social networks
to the city that many used to become brokers. Lower caste, highly dependent
on informal wage labor and much lower education
than the upper caste. And this is again the kind
of failure of the state through land reforms
and other policies, you know, to really undermine
the kind of inherited inequalities of princely rule. Some people call it feudal–
debates around that. And in particular, it shows
that yes, the economic capital is important, who had land,
how much land, you know. The ability to profit from land
depends primarily on how much you have, and also how
much economic assets you have also
shapes your ability to wait, which is crucial
for real estate speculation. Also important was people’s
comfort with land markets– literacy very
basically, but also some idea of what
an SEZ was, what it would do to land markets,
was it profitable to sell it and so on. And also kind of
those social networks were important for determining
who became a broker. This is just to present
the results of the survey. This shows at the time
I did my survey in 2011, the vast majority
of the lower caste was categorized in these
schedule castes, schedule tribes. They’d already liquidated their
plots at relatively low prices. Pretty quickly people came
in, said sell your land to us. It was two lakh per
bigha, now it’s three. You’ll have a profit, and so on. Many of them sold. Couldn’t wait, or were tricked. The Brahmins and Jats who
came out of land reform with a lot more land and
assets, and also education held onto those plots. And they’re the ones
that are actually really going to
benefit from this, the ones that hadn’t sold yet. Because the land
value is probably close to what it is in like
East Providence right now, you know, like around Brown. I don’t know. And when they did
sell, upper class got more money per
hectare for those plots, and were disproportionately
represented among the brokers. So it shows very
highly unequal ability to profit from real
estate speculation. Now almost everyone
invested the gains from real estate speculation
into either more land where they either were
just speculating or became absentee
landlords, petty trade– small shops and so on,
or money lending– good, old-fashioned money lending. So it’s interesting as you
get these kind of advanced, you know, cutting edge of
modern Indian capitalism kind of reinforcing these like
landlord-ism and money lending, and petty trade. Now the class
positions at the end of these trajectories in the
village are very complex. They’re very difficult
to categorize in classical Marxist terms. But I divided them
into a few categories. So you have these neo-rentiers. This includes the sarpanch
of the village who comes out of this process
with a gigantic house, huge landholdings. He built a six story apartment
building in the village market. He’s got a petrol station,
a farmhouse, I mean, all kinds of stuff. Because he was the sarpanch at
the time of the SEZ’s arrival and became a huge broker. The former feudal landlord’s
grandson is even richer. I should have said
that this leaves out the outlier of the Raj
Patankar’s family, which owned 375 hectares
when the SEZ arrived, against an average of
four in the village. So insane. So it goes from kind of
extracting renting kind from sharecroppers
for 50 years to being an absolute real estate mogul. So the grandson was actually
sent to these elite colleges and became an investment
banker with Citigroup, and then moved back to the
village, when the SEZ came, to be the village
sarpanch, which is a very anomalous career trajectory. But actually there’s
a lot more money to be made in that role than
as a Citibank investment banker in Mumbai. So you have all this. And you have a lot of
Jats and Brahmins who had large landholdings
and became very– like, dollar millionaire,
land speculators and brokers. So I call them neo-rentiers. Then you have what I call
petty asset managers. Now they’re not that
different in terms of what they’re doing
from the neo-rentiers except they have much smaller
kind of portfolios really. So these are people that kind
of came out of the process with a little bit of land,
a little bit more capital that they’re investing
into small shops, and land, and so on. Same kind of circuits,
but a lot less money. But they do have an ongoing
stake in this project in order to become
small-time brokers. Then you have the
proletarianized, which was the vast majority
of the semi-proletariat. The lower caste farmers who
had small amounts of land, and so on– they were pretty
much just pulverized, lost everything, and
became wage laborers. Then there is the excluded. So I’m going to
talk about those who kind of were unequally
successful in navigating land markets. As Mr. Patankar said, you
need to possess something to be dispossessed. And these are mostly
people who didn’t have any at least
privately title land to be dispossessed of– the village landless, the
grazers, the [INAUDIBLE],, who were considered a
criminal tribe by the British, and so on. They’ve been living
there on the grazing land without title for
six generations. They were brutally
shoved off with nothing, had no compensation. Also the grazers who were
dependent on the village grazing land lost everything. And cutting across, households
with land I would also argue– women in general– you could
put in the excluded category because of the patriarchal
system of land tenure in which it’s almost entirely
men that have title to land and are almost entirely excluded
from this real estate economy. So the main conclusion here is
that real estate speculation made some people
very rich, which is novel in the annals of
studies of rural dispossession or displacement. But real estate
speculation precedes on these arbitrary historical
inequalities left intact by the failures of land reform,
and is a very poor basis for inclusive growth. What we really see
here is a compounding of historical development
failures by the market, though perhaps with
some more fluidity than we see with kind of
say, agricultural capitalism. And land speculation was
the only source of value. I’m going to have to go
through this, skip this. Mostly because this was kind
of knowledge-intensive growth and rent-driven
growth, there was very little employment generated
that farmers could possibly get. So the IT companies are hiring
these relatively educated, English-speaking
middle class youth from Jaipur that are
trucked in at night to work these night shifts. You know, to do the back office
work for western companies. So you see a phalanx of these
SUVs come in at 5 o’clock to go through SEZ’s gate
as construction workers are leaving. This was a huge source
of anger for people in the village,
especially those who had some BA degree
from a small college and expected to be able
to work in Infosys. But from Infosys, those degrees
didn’t have any meaning. But even those who were
uneducated and expected at least to get wage
labor out of this were also excluded
by virtue of what they call a footloose
migratory labor system, the preference
of contractors to hire migrant labor
from other states who are more easily disciplined. So locals got very little work. These were the encampments. And of course,
that’s not to argue that migrants from
other states are less deserving in some
way of employment. But the spatial separation
of dispossession exploitation was a kind of important
factor in producing local anger against the SEZ. And I think it’s a much broader
phenomenon and something we need to understand
if we want to understand why some of these projects
are really controversial. So there’s complaints about
jobs going to outsiders. They found only 18% of
families have one member with a job related to the SEZ. But those were temporary
jobs, like one year contract, two year contract,
almost entirely as security guards, janitors,
gardeners for Infosys. And the wages from these
jobs were actually less than the income
from two buffalo. So if you had two
buffalo and you lost that because of your
grazing land was destroyed and you got this job, people
were not happy with that. Now if someone is outside
the SEZ and got those jobs, it’d be sort of
a moderate bonus. But for no one did they
compensate for the lost income. This little argument
with Chatterjee, that these kind of
social programs, right to work and
so on, were not effective substitutes
for the land, didn’t reverse the
effects of dispossession. And this is the
important point for me is that what this underscores
is the importance of being semi-proletarian. Right? Not that this was something
to be romanticized, that the kind of
preexisting agrarian economy was so great and
sustainable, but how exclusionary the current
trajectory of Indian capitalism is that holding on to
small pieces of land and a few livestock is a highly
preferable option than being dispossessed and absorbed
into the kind of growth that is being offered. So that, I think, is the
important take home point here. I’ll skip the next
chapter, which really looks at how
the SEZ otherwise enclaved infrastructure
investment created this high end premium
network space which had very few infrastructural
or other economic linkages to the surrounding areas. And I draw a little bit on
Neil Brenner’s work there, and also I king of bring
into the conversation with Hirschman’s idea
of linkage effects, of which there are very few. I’ll just put this
summary kind of slide. It begs a lot of
questions that I try to get into more
ethnographically. But the vast majority
of my respondents in the end, at least in
2011, which is a snapshot, reported having less
income after the SEZ, including a very large majority
of the schedule caste and tribe families. Same with less
food, vast majority felt a lot more
loss than benefit. That begs a lot of
questions that I try to get into ethnographically. But I think it doesn’t
provide much evidence for the modernisation
theory of dispossession. It also is more complicated
than the predatory theory of dispossession. Because clearly there was a
very differentiated outcome, and some people really did
well ultimately as speculators or even certain upper rungs
of the petty asset managers, and so on. But it also creates a problem
for the dialectical redemptive theory. Because in no way did this
actually plant the seeds of its own redemption. It did not form a kind of
revolutionary proletarian class. The next chapter
really looks at how, in fact, even though there’s
these widespread grievances, there’s a lot of anger in
the villages about the lack of employment, the lack of
infrastructure benefits, and so on. And this was kind of
talked about is this, you know, outsiders
are eating the profits, and they’re eating the
cream, and the Molai, and we’re not getting
even the milk, and so on. And so there wasn’t
that kind of discourse. But that sentiment was really
undermined by differentiation through real estate speculation. And that occurred, as it
showed in the figures, partly between caste inequality. But also real estate
speculation also created these inequalities
within castes, even within families. And it was the experience
of this kind of, I think, individualization
of life chances. So this is a Dalit
home that I lived in. And you can see that you have
this gigantic house of someone who was a little bit
more lucky and perhaps, shrewd about selling
their compensation plots, was a government worker,
you know, and so on, across from relatives that are
living in a kutcha house still. So you have these
inequalities emerging also, lower, smaller social units
that were eroding also the kinds of solidarity
that could make any collective action possible. Brothers fighting with
brothers, and so on, sisters. So this chapter goes into
that a bit more depth. But the point is that there was
ultimately one protest attempt to form a protest organization. This was by the
sarpanch brokers. And their main demand was give
us these compensation plots, give it proper infrastructure. But they never kind
of raised the issue of those who had
already sold their land, of course, as many
of them had been the brokers on those deals. And never at all
raised the issues of those who were
living on the village common lands, the
excluded who got nothing. And it kind of died down as
soon as they were given promises about those plots
being delivered. People argue that
they were bought off. So there was this
kind of simmering anger, kind of Jim Scottian
kind of everyday resistance. The war of words at the chive
stall, cursing the brokers and slandering them, and so on. But it didn’t have any
material effectiveness because there was no
interdependence anymore in the agricultural economy and
really no collective action. There’s everyday
forms of resistance. So people breaking
down the fences, grazing their cattle
inside, things like that. But those were only really
temporary resumptions of land use that weren’t going
to last as soon as the SEZ developers needed that land. So and as an aside, the
village voted heavily for Modi. I could get into that,
but what I want to argue is that this is not a
revolutionary proletariat in the making. Right? But at the same
time, we should not interpret this as
some kind of consent to the current trajectory
of Indian capitalism either. You know, the aspirational
India and so on. Some people have also
written about SEZ’s. In fact, what was
so striking to me about the aspirations of
people in the villages was how utopian they
were with respect to the current trajectory
of Indian capitalism. So people wanted formal,
secure, salaried jobs in the SEZ making
rupees $10,000 a month. They wanted good
quality infrastructure. The world-class infrastructure
should be in the village, not inside the SEZ boundaries. And until that
happened, they wanted to keep their land
because everyone knew that even if one
person got that job, they couldn’t support
their whole family. They couldn’t bring
the whole family out of agriculture even
on those salaries. So what was so
interesting to me in fact was how these aspirations really
pointed beyond this trajectory, and they’re not
going to be satisfied by people like Modi or Rajay. They’ll make these promises
that wont be realized, and then that will affect
their politics going forward, perhaps in ways we
can’t anticipate. But its more likely probably
for those aspirations to be articulated to
different political projects and places where they’ve
not been dispossessed, and individualized, and absorbed
into real estate markets. OK, so now I’m just going to
have one concluding slide. I have one minute? OK. Which I think means
that for Marxists should take the politics– so if that’s really what
politics after dispossession is increasingly looking
like, then Marxists needs to take the politics
of dispossession a bit more seriously than
historically they have. And so in the end, I
just want to discuss maybe a few implications
that I would draw from the study
for the way we think about India’s
contemporary land wars and where they might go. One is that, again,
to keep in mind that land dispossession and
post-liberalization India has been increasingly
driven by this rent-heavy and non-labor intensive growth. Really the dispossession
has changed in this phase of capitalism in India. And this pattern of growth,
I think, beyond the findings of this particular
village, I think, it maps onto larger,
even statistical findings of economists, that
I think I’m just showing in some
ethnographic different sort of micro-processes
through which this occurs. It’s marginalized
in rural labor. It enclaves
infrastructural investment. And it has little to offer most
farmers, except land prices. And land prices in real
estate speculation, I think, is a poor basis for
inclusive growth. I think I can say that
with some confidence. But it can be a powerful
political mechanism for generating compliance is
what I think my case study also helps to illustrate. That can be powerful. The ability of the Indian
State to generate compliance and dispossession will,
I argue, in the absence of a major political
economic reorientation hinge upon substituting land
prices for ongoing inclusion. I would say this is what a
lot of changes in state level and the national
level land acquisition and resettlement rehabilitation
laws are trying to do. I don’t think they’re
actually going to do it because I
think there are limits to that kind of compensation
through speculation sort of model. One is that it’s the
willingness of state and capital to make such concessions. This was Mark’s point that
[INAUDIBLE] picked up on, which is that I think the
capitalist class still can’t see beyond its nose
in the way that, you know, Anandita can also tell us. The way in which capital
lobbied vociferously against the progressive
measures of the national level amendments, the land
acquisition laws leading to lots of
dilutions, which leaves a bill that I
don’t think actually is going to be that effective. It’s supposed to say, you know,
two to three times the market price, but it’s not
actually the market price. It’s that low level kind
of agricultural prices. Anyway, the point
is that they’re not going to be close to the
amount of compensation that the farmers
in this village got through this other model, which
they might increasingly adopt. But so far we haven’t seen it. Now of course, the other
is the reach and stability of the land boom. So these are peri-urban
villages where you have these huge astronomical
increases in land prices. This is going to be
less effective in more interior villages where
the land price is lower. Also agrarian
social structure is less amenable to compromise
than [INAUDIBLE].. So again, I talk
about various factors that made this particularly–
that facilitated the generation of compliance
here, which was rain-fed agriculture, high levels of
inequality, relatively quiet political history. But if you look across the
agrarian milieu of the subcon, you see huge variations in all
of those, which then creates a very uneven terrain
for the Indian State to produce compliance. The upshot of that for me is
that I don’t think land wars are likely to go away. I think there are checks and a
highly exclusionary trajectory of capitalism. Now they are defensive. They are single issue. They are often ephemeral,
and all the things that people say about
social movements in a rather negative way. But they are sort of a check. Right? And the question I think
is whether obstruction can create openings for
more promising politically economic trajectories. So I’ll just end there. Thanks. [APPLAUSE] Thanks, Mike. Just have a seat. Sure. OK, so there’s hope, and
then there’s no hope. And let’s find out
about what Sarah thinks about the
hopeless and the hopeful. Please. Should we sit
here, or sit there? Yes. OK. I have a slide. Oh. I do. How do I get to it? I’m in. Whoops. Yeah. I’ll get to it in a minute. OK. So I’ll move through
this as quickly as I can. So these are obviously
rather different cases, rather different papers. And so what I’m going to do is– my comments are kind of aimed
at rubbing them together to see what we can
kind of think about. And a second kind
of point is I’m an anthropologist in the field. I ask questions about
history and meaning. And I’m going to ask you as a– probably most of my
questions kind of orient around history and meaning. So I’m going to talk about each
of the papers individually, and then for the latter
part of the discussion I’ll kind of put
them into discussion. So first, Dr.
Patankar’s paper, which outlines a legal infrastructure
instigated by the Sharamik Mukti Dal on behalf
of people displaced, dispossessed, and resettled
by development, particularly those large-scale
irrigation projects. And so Patankar
argues that there was no law enacted or enforced
during the British colonial period that connected
displacement and quote, unquote, resettlement
and rehabilitation, and this lack continued
after independence. And that was until one
piece of legislation was passed in
Maharashtra in 1976. And this project-affected
Persons Rehabilitation Act was described at
length in his comments. So I won’t go over that. But I want to
importantly kind of note that this law was written
in response and mobilization by project-affected people,
which again, he discussed. And it ensured
land for people who had been dispossessed
and linked, importantly, this idea of resettlement
and rehabilitation. And so it seems to
me, and it seems that the difference that makes
a difference here in this case is this relationship
between resettlement and rehabilitation. So can and does
rehabilitation have meaning beyond this
kind of narrow meaning of the distribution of
irrigated agriculture? And it seemed like it did,
and I wanted to kind of know more about that. And I’ll ask more
questions about this. So again, what
does rehabilitation mean in its biggest, in
its kind of broadest sense? How do people talk broadly
about being rehabilitated, what rehabilitation is as
a condition, and the state of being rehabilitated? And when I think about
rehabilitation– and again, disclosure as an
anthropologist– and I think about literature–
say in both medical anthropology or animal studies,
which both examines how rehabilitation is the
product of making someone, some individual,
even an animal– again, importantly,
an individual– able to live on its own, right? But an individual with some kind
of ailment generally– able to live on its own. And it has again, in
social science literature, particularly in medical
anthropology, a particular kind of connotation. And I was kind of
thinking about that. But importantly, to make
someone live independently, to live without the support
of a rehabilitation center or the support of other people. It is this remarkably
individualized concept oftentimes to me. But what does
rehabilitation index then in this case
in Maharashtra? How does it index irrigated
land or employment? But importantly, what else? What else can it and
what does it index? And then what are the
qualities of rehabilitation? What makes rehabilitation good? What makes rehabilitation bad? And who gets to act
on behalf of others in the act of
rehabilitation, like who are the proper subjects and
objects of rehabilitation? And I’m going to
ask another question along these lines in a minute. But the point being
that rehabilitation itself is not
self-evident to me. What it does instead is push
me to ask about how different kinds of development– And I use that word
kind of pragmatized– are relying on each other,
or might different forms of development be
relying on each other. Say how are irrigation
systems relying on self-help groups,
or other forms of developmental infrastructure? How does development
beget more development? And what’s interesting,
perhaps from a social justice perspective, is the success
of this movement in putting rehabilitation– however
we conceive of that– before development. Rehabilitation
before development. And that’s, of course,
encapsulated in the statement from the talk and
from the paper, this idea of first
rehabilitation, then dam. I just find that to be just a
remarkably evocative concept. And that it was
able to be enacted. Because again,
this is what I do, I’m going to want
to push on some more of the concepts in the paper
and in the larger talk. And what we’re talking about is
of course one specific example and one specific place, and it
was able to kind of engender a dual development. And that’s kind of how I see it. Development of both some
sort of infrastructural thing and community development. So it’s kind of
dual development. We see the construction
of an irrigation system, but also a kind of
dual development. So development in the paper
and in the talk kind of has this double entendre. Development is this
super big concept. So how do we kind
of pull it apart? And so I teach here at Watson. I teach these large
lecture classes– I almost said wicked–
wicked huge lecture classes, because they are– in development studies. And you know what we talk about? We talk about, and we take
these big, weighty concepts like development,
or conservation, or sustainability, and we
critically engage, right? Kind of the object,
the questions we ask are what is conserved
in conservation, or what is developed
in development? And I think this
case is interesting because there is this kind of
dual development happening. And most the times
what we see is when we ask that
question, again, what is developed in development, is– or what is sustained
in sustainability– is, of course, a stable
accumulation of capital by interests far
removed from the place or location in question. What is often
sustained is capital. And that’s evident
in the second case, but we’re on the first case. But, of course,
we all know this. And so that’s what makes
this case in Maharastra so fascinating. But I wanted to think beyond it. And again, in thinking about
social justice struggles, thinking about enacting
a change in the world that you kind of intimate
throughout the talk, I wanted to know
more about the how. I wanted to know more about the
social and material conditions beyond the law itself
that were able to make this action possible. Again, the law is
important, but what are the social and material
conditions on which this mobilization was built? How did mobilizations build on
existing social organizations? Not just that it built on
existing social organizations, but how did it do it? How did it do this
moving beyond? How do these
mobilizations perhaps exacerbate existing
social inequalities that did not relate to the
amount of land a person held? How were inequalities
perhaps exacerbated that were not land-based? And so I want to come back to
this idea of how development perhaps maybe begets
more development, or how the things being
developed relate to each other. And I’m thinking spatially
and materially here, so both spatially and materially. And in the paper– and
in the larger paper, this is really clearly fleshed
out because he starts there– Dr. Patankar gives us a
typology of development. He talks about two categories
of development projects. You close your talk a
little bit more with this, but I’d like to kind of
think about this typology a little bit. There’s two categories. So the first category is that
positive category, right? There are development projects
that deliver immediate palpable benefits to particular
communities, so development projects
that benefit a community. And then second, there are
these development projects that again, in Patankar’s
words, quote, “claim to benefit society in general, but there
is no palpable benefited zone created by them,” end quote. So in this first category,
we can put things like irrigation or various
manufacturing projects. These are projects that
generate employment because of the establishment and
manufacturing of various goods or things say, like electricity. There’s a distinct benefited
zone, in his words, for these projects. They provide something–
irrigated land or permanent jobs, for example– by those being moved out. The second category
includes projects like protected forests, or
the broadening of roads, and the building of airports– the benefited zone of
which is not so exact. And perhaps the people
being moved out of place do not benefit from
these projects at all. So there’s a distinction
here between these two kinds of development. And it’s a difference in the
qualities of people’s lives in relationship to the
thing being constructed, the thing being developed. So the relationship between
life and development or life and the thing itself
being developed. And the difference I see,
it is not necessarily about the thing being
developed, but again, it’s about this relationship
of people to the thing, of a quality of community. And it’s a difference
in the kind of publics a development
project can create, the difference in the
qualities or inequalities cultivated through
the coalescing publics around these projects. And the assumption then
with this first category is that people can maintain
a particular place connection and develop themselves– the place and displacement–
there’s a particular place connection– and develop themselves
generation after generation– and that seems key– through the implementation
of a given project. The first category enables
long-term employment. So key to this positive valence,
it seems, of the first category is time. And there’s a kind
of long-termness. Giving one generation a job
is not a long-term solution. But I would argue too that
long-term employment also needs to be thought of
in terms of quality. I work on plantations, which
are some really old cases of resettlement
and dispossession. And long-term employment kind
of comes with the territory of the plantation. But there’s a
difference in quality. And you know,
long-term employment is guaranteed by the
plantation, and herein lies part of the dispossession. Herein lies part
of the inequality. And I know, of
course, you’re talking about these kind
of positive cases where autonomous people
have autonomous employment. But I want to push
on the abstractness of this typology a bit
to highlight that place in historical context matter. And this is a particularly
inspiring case in Maharashtra. But again, what do we
do with this typology? I guess these are my own
self-serving questions about how do we think
about social justice. How do we think about change in
long-term protracted struggles against dispossession? How do we bring these
into these typologies that both authors are
really putting forth? How do we bring in long-term
protracted struggles? But it seems also
that when we’re talking about the
successes of this movement and the efficacy of these
legal infrastructures, we are mostly looking
at farming and farming for oneself on one’s land. But it seems in this
typology that you’re really opening up or pointing us to
the transformative possibilities that are way broader
than this, way broader than individual farming. And this could
include wage labor. But I really wanted to
hear more about this, and how would that
possibly work, what would they look like beyond
perhaps the government job. I wanted to hear about how
we could envision scaling this up and out of Maharashtra. What would it look like? And what are those other
livelihood strategies that might enact a kind
of positive change? And is it enough to say that
employment should be long-term? So the other social
justice question perhaps is a simple one,
and that’s how do we ensure that this seeming
inevitability, kind of pragmatizing that,
seeming inevitability of development-induced
displacement facilitates a kind of
community development that it possibly can’t, or
this development generation after generation. So to get at a similar
distinction then we might be able to ask
what kinds of places do development and
displacement make? What kinds of
places do they make? And who are these places for? Who can they ever be for? And so I wanted to
end with more of a– it’s not important. Yeah, no, I do want to end
with this on this paper. And this is really my main
provocation for the paper, I guess. Can we hold onto this typology,
this good development/bad development
topology, if we think about how these categories of
development are really messy? Like one and two are
not really that neat. And that they’re
messy and connected in these really
complicated ways. Then say the manufacturing
of a widget that allows for your first category
and this more seemingly positive displacement
actually enables the manufacturing of some
kind of machine in an SEZ somewhere else that firmly
falls into your second category. So how can we hold these
categories together if the widget of
development style one enables the machine of
development style two? How can we really kind
of think about these as really fundamentally
different? Can we hold these
categories apart when we know that they
mutually support each other? And how can we look
at them in isolation? Because it seems that they
really are inextricably linked. How do these places, and
therefore, these projects always rely on each other? This is one of the theoretical
occupations of myself, perhaps, but also one of my
favorite theorists to think with right
now, and that’s the feminist eco-critic and
environmental philosopher Val Plumwood. Val Plumwood, anybody? I don’t know. My favorite. But anyway, so
she’s looking at how we think about place in
these very singularized ways. So a place is a place of
attachment, is a place of home, it is a place that
I think is beautiful or that I can kind of valorize. But those valorized
places, those good places are always supported by shadow
places, shadow places that supply the things that we need. And those shadow
places are always what we do not pay
attention to when we think about valorized places,
when we think about when things work, when we think
about parks, for example, when we think about home. Home, and parks, and
all of these things are always linked to the
production of things elsewhere, and the unequal production
of things elsewhere. So how can we think
about solidarity across development,
across inequality, if we think about
the relatedness of these different spaces? OK, so then on to
the Levien paper. So there is this
really interesting multi-sided research
that links villages and these offices in
Mahindra private capital, as well as bureaucratic
offices as well. And he walks you through
this in his talk, so I won’t do that there. But I will kind of
think a little bit more about the theoretical framework. And the introduction starts
with a tension between him and this kind of literature,
this massive literature on land dispossession and
land-based displacement. And it argues– the literature,
this literature that he’s against– argues that these phenomena– land-based displacement,
land dispossession– are the same everywhere. And importantly, they’re the
same everywhere across time, or at least under capitalism. And this literature
argues that dispossession is either progress
or it’s predation. And laid over this binary
are kind of the qualities of dispossession. And they’re related to a dualism
describing the lives of those affected by dispossession
that they are either doomed to extinction by
their economic backwardness or are sustainable
peasant communities. So we have these
binaries that are related to each other at play. And such binaries, he
argues, are unhelpful. I agree. They’re remarkably unhelpful. But instead of
those binaries, he puts forth what
he calls in terms of sociology or sociological
understanding of dispossession that would require
that we descend from the heights of abstraction
to understand whether, how, and with what effects different
forms of dispossession collide, interact, intercede
with specific agrarian milieu. And such a sociological
approach then can neither take
dispossession as progress, nor can it romanticize
the dispossessed. Again, totally buy that. And so you answered
many of my questions about descending
from abstraction. Because again, I only
read the introduction. But I would still kind of want
to know more about what does this concept of the agrarian
milieu actually do for you that context or specificity can’t? What does it do
operatively as a concept? And perhaps this
is a particularly disciplinary thing,
this argument, that I’m not quite getting. And it seems a little kind
of strawman-y, again, to me as an anthropologist. Because come over to the dark
side with us in anthropology. This is exactly what we do. We kind of like sit in the
agrarian milieu all the time. And there’s lots of really
interesting people looking at just this, the everyday
experiences of dispossession, and through really,
really detailed ethnographic engagements,
whether they’re agrarian or otherwise. And so it was set up as a
little bit stark for me. Then Levien also argues
that the qualities of so-called development
and land dispossession have changed dramatically
since the early 1990s when India transitioned
from this kind of state-managed capitalism
to neo-liberalism. So part of this shift was a
move from land dispossession for the purpose of public
sector industrial projects or infrastructure projects
to land dispossession to benefit on behalf of
large corporate entities. And so both periods
of development achieved their mean through
different strategies of coercion. But the qualities of this
means of dispossession differ. So we have post-independence,
pre-liberalization development, and post-liberalization
development. And he suggests that we
can take these periods of different kinds of socially
and historically specific regimes. So to work against
this abstraction, to get at these historical
shifts of dispossession, he introduces us to the idea
of regimes of dispossession. Regimes of dispossession
capture how coercion is used to
dispossess the rural poor and how that coercion
varies over time and space. So the concept of
regime of dispossession, however, really is designed
to allow us to think about state-based action. At this scale, we can
think about in regimes. Because he argues that there
is a more discernible pattern, quote, unquote, a more
discernible regime-ness when we think at the
scale of the state. And so I would
argue that patterns exist at smaller scales too. As anthropologists,
again, we look at patterns at that quote,
unquote de-centralized level you mentioned, the scale
of mafias, militias, armed gangs, and landlords. And I would add
women and families as well, and even non-humans. And I mentioned
to you, for those of you interested, Radhika
Govindrajan’s work is looking at how monkeys are themselves
actors of these land mafias, and they’re used to
displace rural Paharis and [INAUDIBLE],, or
Marisol de la Cadena has looked at
historically about how cattle are used by colonists to
displace peasants in Colombia. And I’m kind of partial
to these kind of actors, but I’m not asking
for a different study. But I want to
know, is there room for these kind of
non-state actors or just actors not working for
the state in this framework. And where is it? And so if we are thinking,
again, with states here protest two has
a clearer opponent than at this murky micro-scale. And it’s a state. It’s these overt
political actors. They’re discern-able. And here’s a clear link
then between the two papers. How can we think
of Patankar’s case as an exemplar of this
state-driven development and a particular regime
of dispossession? Is positive rehabilitation
in the framework Patankar talked
about in his paper possible under the
neo-liberal regime? But another question I have
is with this regime framework. And how can we account
for heterogeneity, messiness in development
and dispossession? And the way are largely
understood– and again, this comes from conceptual
baggage that I’ll kind of close with– is that regimes are
temporally sequential, sociopolitical,
economic assemblages. They work to help us understand
the hows of dispossession and how hows change over time. And in the context of
this sequentialness, how do we understand things that
don’t fit the current regime? How do we understand
heterogeneity? Related to this notion then
of regimes of dispossession is the idea of the land
broker state, which is associated to me in
my mind with this idea of the post-liberalization
regime, but maybe it’s both. And land broker states
justify dispossession as necessary for development. But these justifications
obscure the changing forms of dispossession in
post-liberalization India and beg the question of whether
they are in fact developmental. Herein lies the title. And it’s interesting
to me that it seems that these are
material semiotic practices that the land broker
state is enacting and that these are really
discursive justifications. And I wanted to know more
about the discursive practices of that justification
and how perhaps is this in instantiation,
for example, of Ferguson’s
anti-politics machine. What are the discursive
justifications? How do we understand that? And brokerage itself is an
interesting concept too. And it’s interesting that you
work on brokerage elsewhere. And to me thinking with
the political economist, thinking with Eric
Wolf, brokerage is always Janus faced, right? And that kind of speaks
to a particular kind of discursive practice. How is the state
as an actor which, again, makes us anthropologists
get really nervous because how is the state a particular– who are those brokers? How do we understand that
going back and forth? And then this kind of leads
me to that conceptual baggage question, which is if we think
about regimes of dispossession as state-based and state led,
then what holds them together. What makes people consent
or comply in your words in a [INAUDIBLE] sense. You introduce ideas of
legitimacy, coercion and compensation. And because we have to ask
what holds a regime together, I guess my really short way
of asking a more complicated question is, isn’t
this just a lot like regime of accumulation
theory, which doesn’t really, to me, factor into the text
at all, which asks us to think about the stable accumulation
in particular regimes, but also points to the
fact that we don’t actually know what a regime is. We don’t actually
see the discreteness of a particular regime
until it falls apart. And I don’t know if that kind
of until it falls apart-ness is perhaps evocative here. We don’t see the end of the
regime until we see 1991. So OK, to rub these papers
together a little bit– how am I doing on time? Really? Was that 20 minutes? I prepared 20 minutes. And I prepared this
amazing picture. OK. Then take your minutes. Well then, I’m not going
to talk about this. No, you should. Go ahead. OK. So I have this picture out–
and this is from Seattle, and I can talk about it. But in short, the Seattle
Museum is being accused of land grabbing a park. And there’s a long story here. I was just in Seattle giving a
string of talks, one of which was at the museum. And this was outside the talk
on Saturday when I was talking. But I was using this
to think about what– Michael, you in your
paper talk about that the words we use to frame
the phenomenon we study. A park kind of group of the
volunteers– the volunteers of volunteer park are accusing
the museum of a land grab, I thought was
particularly evocative. But to think about the
words that people use. And both papers kind
of think about– to think about the
framing of these projects. But there’s a serious question
here about land grabbing, closure, dispossession,
displacement, dislocation. All of these are kind of getting
at what we’re talking about. The papers are at odds with
each other, most clearly here. And they’re at odds about
how to frame the problem. Levien calls displacement
a euphemism, as compared to the more
emotionally charged grab, which has its own kind of
register now post-Trump. And the large populations
who lost their home at the hands of
large dam development in the mid-20th century have
been commonly talked about as being moved at the hands
of development-induced displacement. And this became
particularly evocative in the ethnographic
present of Patankar’s paper in which displacement
becomes codified. It becomes a kind of term of
art in activist and policy communities. So the question is,
how do we understand the emotional balance
of these words, the political action
of these words, the policy relevance
of these words? Does displacement
appear just to happen? And I would love to hear
you both talk about this. And I would like to kind of
think about while displacement may be a turn for policymakers. What does it mean to
reject displacement? Is a rejection of
displacement a rejection of place, a
rejection of context, a rejection of a particular
kind of framework for home and belonging? Again, for me place
always gets at belonging. It gets at home. It gets at family. So to reject displacement for
me would be to kind of reject those concepts as well. And I appreciate
a particular kind of Marxist grounding
in your paper, Michael, but my Marxist
feminist leanings make me want to know more
about that micro-scale. And again, a push
away from displacement would be a push
away from family. So a rejection of
displacement, does it kind of work well with your
scaling up to the state level? Are those kind of
intimately connected? I mean, that’s kind
of a larger question. But I have two short
questions as well. And the first is on the long
term notions of dispossession. What kind of long term
notions of dispossession are at play here? In both of your research,
we could perhaps think more about a
stratigraphy of movement and marginalization,
that kind of move beyond the particular starting
points that you both choose in your papers. And the last question is
really a series of questions that I thought were kind
of absent in both papers. And that is what does
development, displacement, and dispossession mean to
the people you work with? And the introduction is, of
course, the introduction. But even also in your,
Dr. Patankar’s paper, I thought the people were,
in a way, kind of monolithic. How do people themselves
view these projects? What are the specific
possessions that people themselves see losing? What does it mean to possess
something in the first place? If it’s really just
land, how does land figure as a possession at all? How does it figure as a
possession in the first place? And I don’t just mean
legal possession. Is there a debate? How can we account for
difference in contestation? What is home and
how do you make it? What makes development
good or not? And how do people see themselves
benefiting from or falling outside of the purview of the
utilitarian frameworks that so often guide
development practice? What did people want to see
in a post-development future or in a future of ongoing
dispositions and dislocations? And I’ll end there. Yeah. I’ll end there. [APPLAUSE] Please sit here. They’re the ones
that have to comment. You can still stay here. OK. Thank you. OK. Thank you, Sarah, for a lot
of thought-provoking questions and comments. Unfortunately, both
speakers did not stick to their allotted times. And I’m sure you’d want to
hear more questions, right? So how about this? Please– yes, if you have any
questions, raise your hand and shoot. And I’ll give them probably
two minutes each at the end. Thank you for a great seminar. I’m a Syrian citizen who just
got his citizenship here. A question that I have is when
you talk about these models, there are unintended
consequences of so many different levels that
really gets looked away from. One is like when
you look at people in the process of
disposition, you focus on the people
who are landlords who are losing these
assets to something that is going to acquire. But you completely ignore
people who don’t have ownership to these assets that are gone. So an example is
in Syria, when you have an agricultural
economy, you have a group of people
who are called followers. They follow the herd,
and they collect the feces to produce manure. There are other
economies that develop in the other industries, like
someone who owns a machine that can actually Plus,
these grains add value, like maybe someone who
actually sells plastic bags. All these will get
away with nothing out of this development. The other unintended
consequence is let’s say you are in a
village nearby that you used to be able to afford
living in, and nowadays as you urbanize in
this area, in a sense, you actually can no longer
acquire a small land for you to actually build a
house for your son, or actually expand your own
yard, or do this and that. So these are
unintended consequences that we would never have
been able to address. The second thing is how can
you propose rehabilitation. I mean, in German it was a
process that actually tried to bring people, women,
post-war from agricultural and industrial life to more
service-oriented careers. But again, now you are
losing jobs to machines. How can you retrain
and rehabilitate folks when they will not
have an ability to participate in these
positions that are lost? I mean, it’s lost to
a machine and there’s nothing you can train
him for to replace that. Thank you. Two very important questions. What do we do when it’s– Please. Yes, here. I had a question for Michael. Thanks. I like the idea of thinking
about dispossession not as one thing that stays
the same over time and place. But I wonder if we have to
think about different regimes of dispossession,
whether we also have to think about different
types of accumulation and different types of land. Because clearly when we think
about the role of dispossession and accumulation,
then the distinction that you drew between
pre-1991 and post-1991 is productive accumulation
and financial accumulation. And the distinction and
the concept of land, to me, seems to be clearly
that before, land was used as a means of production. Land was acquired for
infrastructural development. And then there are
all these questions of how the fruits of
development is distributed, and then the people who are
displaced off their land don’t really get the
fruits of development. But then in the kind of
land that you described in all these real estate
developments, land is not used as a
means of production. It’s not productive
in any sense. It functions more like
a medium of exchange. It functions more like money. Yes, please. I also have a
question for Michael. So you started off
your talk by saying that these conflicts over land
have gained tremendously– they’ve become
electorally salient. And then you kind of end your
talk by saying that all of this has happened, but sort of
Rajay and the Modi regime is dispossessing more
aggressively and more aggressively in some ways. And to me, I wasn’t quite sure. I hope to hear much
more about what– I mean, of course it’s an
arrangement of factors, and elements, and classes that
you define your regime as. But I didn’t hear enough
about the regime itself. So the legal trajectory was
one part of the politics that both sustains
the regime but also is sustained by the elements in
the regime that you describe. But to me, the puzzle
still is that how then is the politics
of the regime different if the politics
itself is sustained. And what I see largely
on varying ways where you’re electing similar sorts– let me summarize my point. Maybe I’d like to
hear a little bit more about how electoral politics
serves as a backdrop, and also quite crucially
holds things together in your narrative. So maybe it’s more
of a concluding, where do we go from
here, sort of question. Thank you. Any other questions? Sure. Sorry, I had to pop
out for a second. I’ll try to form this– you both had– so
my work actually looks at entrepreneurs who
are moving back to India. So it’s kind of
these hidden kind of people that are in both of
your stories that aren’t there because you’re dealing with
a completely other side. This is why I
thought your talk was very interesting because there
was something you referred to– I wrote it down, and now I
don’t see where my notes are– that was very
interesting, related to these different technologies
of energy that are coming in, and why is one considered
over the other. And so then it’s
very interesting because you’re dealing with
speculative land, Michael, where you have all
these kind of– I look at Bangalore,
so there’s a lot. I see the clean
tech industry kind of coming in, and thinking
about how to then take that clean tech into villages. So I guess my
question is where does this kind of entrepreneurship
lie in the story? Is there a way in which there
could be some sort of presence of high-tech development? Because I think the
name of the seminar is Development-induced
Displacement. So where does the development
lie in this idea of technology? And can that do anything
to kind of change the story of what
development-induced displacement means? Perfect. Thank you. Anybody else with any questions? OK, so here’s how it works. Strictly for 300 seconds–
which is five minutes– No problem. First Bharat, and then Michael. And then for all that you
cannot respond to, Sarah, we can continue
during the dinner. You can see my thoughts. Yes. OK. I’ll say that I couldn’t
go because this was not an extensive thing
into some aspects of– answers the questions. The paper. One question was what
dispossession and displacement or development means
to people themselves? For dispossession, I
would say the people think in terms of
that I’m losing my mountain by my village. Where I can go with my
goats, and where I can have– I mean, maybe I’m not on the
land, but I can go there, and they graze, and
I can have milk. I can sustain on that. Common property resource. Huh? Common property resource. Common property resources. So if you’re telling
in people’s language– So I lose my small stream. I used to have fish. You know, the fish
season is there, and I used to have fish
and crabs and et cetera. So I go somewhere else,
the different area where you are not
assured that it’s clean environment surrounded
with the mountains and forests out there. So I lose that. Then I lose my stream. I lose my stream, which
gives me inspiration for playing some instrument,
like a flute, or a new song. So many things are there,
and people talk about this. People say that you are
giving us land is what? What do you think? You’re not giving us our stream. You’re not giving us our fish. You’re not giving
us our mountain. So you’re not giving
us many things. Not clean air. So in that sense, dispossession
means dispossessing themselves from all of this. That’s what people’s
own understanding is. In that sense, no
rehabilitation can match it. No rehabilitation. Whatever concept of
rehabilitation you have, you cannot answer to this
longing to have these kind of things again. And displacement is actually– there are two things. And one thing is that
they were already displaced because of the
fact that their terrain– because of many reasons, they
cannot sustain their family in their own area. So one member from
each family has to go to Mumbai, or
wherever in these cities, and not for bringing a
better kind of income. But it is just very, very
laborious menial jobs. And they couldn’t bring lot
of the same money, et cetera, to their families. So in this sense,
there’s a contradiction in the experiences. If I get irrigated
land, if I get area where my kids can
go to better schools, then I would come out of
this kind of a situation where my family is divided and
most of the part of the year I’m outside there, and our
emotional life is destroyed. So because of this
rehabilitation site where we can have irrigated land,
we can sustain ourselves in our own village, and
we can have that family life in a different manner. So this is also
another aspect of it. These are the
contradictions in whatever they talk about when they
talk about themselves. So the rehabilitation
then in this background– rehabilitation for
them, rehabilitation would be a full rehabilitation. And that– nothing is
going to give it to them. In a sense, I
would say that when they started going
to Mumbai like this, opportunities came in. Were they not having
a sustainable life before that in their own areas? In hilly areas? They had. What happened? So the story begins from there. So economic changes,
which products you should produce in
your land so that you can sustain your families. Because of the now new economy. That changes to
sustainable livelihood because non-sustainable
livelihood. So you can see in
history that 1880s– every person from each
family goes there. Before that, they were
not going anywhere. They were there for generations. So this is a large area from
where the dispossessed people come, actually. In Rajasthan, for for example–
these people from Rajasthan– they used to move with their
cattle all over the country. And now they cannot do that. The whole thing has changed. So can you bring back
that kind of a thing? You cannot. You cannot bring that
kind of economy again. And even if you think
about, then question comes what development. So the same kind
of thing comes in. The development concept
of development also. So development in general
is historically specific and system specific. I must intervene here
because we’ve already gone seven minutes– Yeah, yeah, because
questions are like that. So– OK. So a reminder of Margaret
Thatcher and how the atom bomb came to be uninvented. OK, and so Michael– OK, thanks for all these
comments and questions. So Sarah, certainly thank
you for those comments. I think that it’s fair reading
the introduction and saying, you know, is there
enough ethnographic– I mean, if there’s five
ethnographic chapters in there. I mean, I think that
sociologists have also done it for a long time. But I think there is like, one
difference between sociologists and anthropologists is
that sometimes sociologists have a bit more of a
disciplinary tendency to try to connect the
micro-processes they are observing to macro
social forces, and to kind of think
about them comparatively, and to use that to reconstruct
theories of like capitalism, which I mean, if you have a
good example of doing that and specifically,
trying to reconstruct the theory of the relationship
between dispossession and capitalism, let me know. Because I thought I
had read everything. Like, on this– What’s that? Paige West’s new book. I read the conservation. One. There’s a new one? She had three books. OK. There’s like, one that
just came out this month. OK. So what I would say is that
what this is trying to do– and I really value the sort of
pushing at the main concepts of the book– one is the question
of regimes, and two is the question of
milieu, agrarian mlieu, and sort of how I
think about these, and why I think they’re useful. And the question
with regimes is I would say that I don’t think
a regime is like a thing. It’s a concept that helps
us to see a kind of shift in the pattern of dispossession
between state capitals and neo-liberalism. And I advanced the idea
because pretty much a lot of the literature
talking about this just was not pinpointing, to me,
what I found empirically going like historically, not
just through interviews, through going through archives
of industrial development corporations, urban
development authorities, that there is this pretty
dramatic transition. And it does seem to
occur like pretty quickly in the early 1990s where you
see like urban development authorities, industrial
development corporations going from these public sector
industrial states start taking land for hotels and all these
kinds of things, real estate, and so on. So trying to have a concept
that helps us to identify it. And it’s clear there’s a
political sort of thing, that this is something
that the state is doing on behalf of certain people. It’s not inevitable. And the second chapter
is really trying to document historically, not
assuming that capitalism just needed this and it
kind of came about, but really trying to
document the transformations in the state. And to me, you just need
to be clear about the kind of social relations
you’re studying. So like, decentralized
forms of dispossession are really important. And I look at how– I wouldn’t necessarily
call them dispossession, but like brokers form
these feeding chains, and my next project’s
on land mafias, which I think is more coercive,
operating feeding chains around these projects. But I don’t know if the same
concepts will be really useful. And it is mostly
people in this case. I don’t mean examples of monkeys
or cows involved in this, but it’s interesting. So you know, I think
that the point for me is not to have this
hyperstructuralist thing where you have one
regime and two regimes, but to notice this pattern. There’s still dams
being built. There’s still these different forms
of dispossession happening within the neo-liberal period. And to me, understanding
those forms of dispossession and how they interact
with the milieu is sort of important to help
us understand the heterogeneity of consequences of politics. And the milieu is– I’ve used that to really get
away from saying it’s agrarian structure. Because I really
want to say you have social relations, agrarian
social relations– they have history, they
reproduce, they change. And I didn’t want to give
a static picture of that. And I also want to
embed in that notion a kind of sense of
history and memory. Because I think political
histories of resistance or experience of
disposition are also important to understanding
the politics of dispossession. But I identified like say,
three important factors I think of the milieu
I studied that I think shaped the process. And I just pose as a
comparative question how those, but also many other
things that people might stress as important, like the type
of agricultural product or specific kind of
agro-food setting, agro-ecological context
might affect things, or other sorts of factors. That was good. Rehabilitation possible
under neo-liberalism? I’m not going to go there. I think the question
is was it possible in the developmental
state because there’s so few examples of it? I mean, what is
good rehabilitation? I don’t even want to– I try to avoid that kind of
type of conclusion throughout. Like I try to kind of
avoid saying something is development. Displacement, I mean, I agree. I mean, part of the reason
I think dispossession doesn’t always
generate displacement, I mean, in the cases I
studied, people mostly are still in their houses,
still in the same villages. Their land was taken. Most people were still
living in their houses. And I do try to kind
of get into gender in different chapters on
both the transformation and the division of labor,
the effect of the commons on women in particular. And I’ve also done
work trying to compare the gendered effects
of dispossession in this with other
cases across history. But I absolutely
acknowledge that my ability to do that in great depth was
hampered by the patriarchy. That definitely
influenced my ability to do fieldwork among
women in the village. And also quickly, the
gentleman from Syria there was a question
on landless. So very much I talked
about landless farmers, the landless grazers, the people
who were living on the grazing land, the sweepers,
different ways they were entirely excluded,
didn’t have property. And what I tried
to do in the paper, and I kind of had to do this
so quickly because I tried to cram too much in, was that
we have to desegregate also even the kind of
landless Dalits, because some who had really no
stake in the agrarian economy were pretty much
indifferent to the process because it didn’t affect them,
and maybe they would get jobs. But then there were those who
were landless and were living on the common land
that got dispossessed or were dependent
on grazing on it who were among the most deeply
hurt by this process, and got no compensation. And then finally,
I would just say– Irene, I think I agree. I mean, what I’m looking
at is dispossession shaped by different
forms of accumulation. And it’s not that there
was no speculation under the
developmentalists projects, like you have
speculation on canals, you have speculation
around industrial states. But it was much more closely
tethered to production. And I think that relationship
gets more attenuated in the post-liberalization
period, and just kind of
capturing that, right? There’s checks on speculation
on those projects. There’s often
avoidance, and so on. Type of land–
again, that’s sort of a question for
me with milieu, also, of like, what type
of land is dispossessed and how that affects things. And very quickly– 10 seconds– What my conclusion is trying
to do is step back and say, can this case tell us anything
about the larger politics of dispossession and
then tries to bring it into a comparative discussion. And one of the things
that I was trying to do is say, in the puritization
of dispossession, the practice of dispossession
doesn’t map very well onto the kind of legal changes. Because it’s legal dispossessed
land for private capital in the ’50s and ’60s,
but it’s kind of rarely done because the
political economy was such. I think largely
compliance– and there’s very little documentation. I’ve looked
everywhere, and there’s very little documentation. Maybe Dr. Patankar has
some other suggestions on why people, when they vacated
their villages for large dams, what made them comply? Was it just the threat,
coercion, since there was no alternative? Was it that people believed in
the promises of development? There’s very little stuff
that convincingly shows that. I mean, the resettlement
compensation was so pitiful in
almost all cases. So it’s really hard to say. But there was very
little material basis. And there was nobody to
take up those issues, like no parties really
took up the issue, small here or there,
but really not. And then what
happens in the ’90s, I think, that
eventually they’re still making the same justifications,
but they’re really not effective. And you have these
proliferating land wars, and they’re becoming
electorally salient. [INAUDIBLE] takes it up. Opposition parties are taken
up in different states as a way to kind of batter
incumbent parties, so it become salient
in a new way. And then I think
that states conclude that’s really no longer possible
to just kind of like give people crappy
compensation and say, this is for the
nation and development when you’re giving it to a
private company for like, a SEZ and real estate speculation. So then they realize they
have to pay up, right? And so there’s a kind of
internal transformation of the regime towards
trying to create a material basis for compliance. And I think that’s where we are. They know you
can’t just say this is for the nation development
and bring an army anymore, the police. They still do that in
places, but it’s becoming increasingly more difficult. So then the question
for me now is how is the Indian state going
to be able to orchestrate this material, compromise? And I think there are
a lot of limits to it. But Modi learned very
quickly that, as you know, it’s much harder to do
it the old fashioned way. When he spent the first eight
months of his reign diminishing his political capital by trying
to dilute an already diluted national land acquisition bill. So I think it’s a real
explosive question. How it’s going to be resolved
is still to be determined. OK, so the pie is
small, and then we are all competing for it. And that’s where
the problem lies. And time is up. Thank you very much for coming. Thanks. I hope you enjoyed
the discussion. And please check our
website, And please be here in spring. We’ll be back with one
seminar every month as usual. Thank you, and in
case we don’t meet, have a wonderful Christmas
and a great new year. Bye-bye, and goodnight.

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