Neoliberalization and the Politics of Dispossession in India: Investigating Three Moments in a Contentious Trajectory

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Anand VAIDYA, ANAND, University of Bergen, USA
Kenneth Bo NIELSEN, University of Bergen, Norway
Alf NILSEN, University of Agder, Norway
India’s experiment with neoliberalism is now over a quarter century old, and during that period a range of economic trends and political fault lines have become visible. This paper tracks the struggles between, on the one hand, social movements from below – that is, the various forms of collective action by subaltern groups – and, on the other hand, movements from above – that is, the collective action of capital and far-right upper-caste movements – in animating the trajectory of neoliberalization in India from the early 1990s to the present. We examine these struggles through the lens of movements against dispossession across three moments. First, from 1991 until 2004, a heightened wave of dispossession occurred in the early aftermath of neoliberal reforms. Second, a partly successful push took place in the period from 2004 to 2014 by subaltern movements to mitigate the worst effects of this dispossession through rights-based legislation. Finally, an ongoing, contradictory period, in which factions of the far right allied with capital are seeking to unravel the rights established through legislation in the earlier period while other factions attempt to gain further consent for right-wing rule among the dispossessed by defending these same rights.