Mobilizing Social Movement:Land Grab, Peasant Resistance and Role of State in India

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Himadri MISTRI, JNU, India
Notion of resistance is an inseparable part of any Social Movement. Social Movement with its collective characteristic, not only represents contemporary ‘time and space’, but also demands a historical understanding of politics and society. ‘Land Grab’ as a phenomenon deeply rooted in the ‘political economy’ of a state and transcends its visible temporality by connecting past with present social structure and influence future, essentially by using ideas like control, power and domination as its elements. India, as a British colony and historically being an ‘agrarian state’, uniquely experienced these. As a part of colonial idea of ‘The White Man's Burden’, colonial ‘modernity’ successfully ended the peoples’ sovereign rights on their land and grabbed them in pretext of colonial laws like Chota Nagpur Tenures Act, 1869 or The Land Acquisition Act, 1894. In post-colonial period, there is hardly any change in the outlook of new rulers. Idea of colonial modernity continues to drive successive governments and development of ‘democracy’ was attached to Big Dams, large industrial projects, large scale mining or urbanizing the nation. As a result, just like their colonial predecessor land grab is legitimized by usage of term like ‘public interest’. But also like colonial period, contemporary India too saw many anti land grab movement.

The proposed study intends to conceptualize a framework to explore how anti-land grab resistance through mobilization transform into social movement and in that context how peasant identity interact with notions like control, domination or power in Post-colonial Indian democracy. It also critically examines the corporate and state relationships in discourse of land and development. The study specially focuses on anti-land grab social movements (of different period of times) of eastern Indian state; West Bengal and how these movements negotiate with Indian state and bring changes in state’s policy outlook in question of ‘land-peasant’ relationship.