ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Amita BaviskarSubscribe to Amita Baviskar

Democracy versus Economic Transformation?

Chatterjee sets up a number of structural oppositions but a more insightful and productive understanding of ongoing change would not only dissolve some of these distinctions but also invert some of the attributes of both "civil" and "political" society.

Contract Killings: Silicosis among Adivasi Migrant Workers

Hundreds of migrant adivasis from Madhya Pradesh have died from acute silicosis (caused by inhaling silica) contracted while working in quartz crushing factories in central Gujarat. Thousands more face the same fate.

Water Politics

The Politics and Poetics of Water: Naturalising Scarcity in Western India by Lyla Mehta; Orient Longman, Delhi, 2005; AMITA BAVISKAR Despite being as important as caste in terms of how people identify themselves, sometimes even more so, the region has been a neglected category of social analysis. As an enduring cultural formation, the region requires a closer attention. Its internal configurations and the role it plays in the larger geographical imagination of the nation need to be studied more carefully. Kutch is one such region: its distinctive topography and ecology give rise to unique modes of living, language and cuisine that mark it off from its parent state Gujarat. People from this region, many of them extremely successful in business and now spread across the world, identify themselves as Kutchi and not as Gujarati. Yet Kutch figures in the collective imagination of Gujarat only in terms of lack. It is a region defined by aridity, where starving cattle collapse on cracked earth and people migrate in droves in search of water. Such imagery was used to great effect in making the case for the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), the dam on the Narmada that its supporters declare to be Gujarat

Adivasi Encounters with Hindu Nationalism in MP

In the late 1990s, many Bhilala adivasis in western Madhya Pradesh joined the battle for Hindu supremacy, attacking Christian adivasis and, later, Muslims. At issue was indigeneity, the politics of place and belonging in the Indian nation. The affiliation with Hindu nationalism marked a radical departure from the previous decade's politics when adivasis had asserted a separate tribal identity and sought to reclaim rights to resources. These claims, elaborated eloquently during the course of the anti-dam movement, were shaped and strengthened by globally circulating discourses about indigenous peoples. How did these discourses, and the distinctive meanings of adivasi indigeneity to which they lent themselves, come to be superseded? Instead of signifying a subaltern experience of adivasi dispossession and resistance, how are discourses of indigeneity deployed to support the claims of the Hindu Right, to disenfranchise religious minorities and legitimise a politics of hate? How do Bhilala adivasis participate in this transformation in the valences of indigeneity? This paper traces adivasi mobilisation across three sites: rights to place and natural resources, religious reform, and electoral representation, to examine how discourses of indigeneity are differently constructed and contested across the terrain of class, caste and citizenship.

For a Cultural Politics of Natural Resources

This collection of essays makes a case for the study of natural resources through the lens of cultural politics. A focus on the complex material and symbolic dimensions of how 'natural resources' come to be imagined, appropriated and contested, enables one to move away from the dull rigours of economic determinism that dog political ecology. The conceptual strengths of this approach also enrich political practice. This introductory essay delineates some of the contours of cultural politics and situates the following essays within its rubric, organising the discussion around prominent keywords used in discourses around natural resources.

A Grain of Sand on the Banks of Narmada

How are the poorest of adivasis in the Narmada valley dealing with the dangers of displacement, even death? Why do people in Anjanvara, on the banks of the river, continue to take extraordinary risks against overwhelming odds?

Towards a Sociology of Delhi-Report on a Seminar

many tangible and viable projects forthcoming to be financed But can the banks claim that they have been earnest in providing finance to all die eligible small and medium borrowers, particularly in areas such as information technology? There have been reported instances of banks having left software and marine products entrepreneurs and exporters in the lunch at the last stage of the credit sanctioning process. Banks' performance in financing priority sector, IRDP and PMRY projects has also been lacklustre, even though the recovery experience in the state has been significantly better than in other states. Between 1988 and 1997 the priority sector to total credit ratio fell from 54 to 47. That there exists unsatisfied demand for credit in the state cannot be disputed. A recent report in a national English daily showed that housewives in villages in Trichur district borrow at exorbitant rates of interest from moneylenders from neighbouring districts of Tamil Nadu. There are apparently some 200 such mobile financiers operating in the district. Farm labourers, marginal farmers and construction and other casual workers form the customers of these shy locks. The quantum of loans, which are mostly taken for THE burden of being India's capital has weighed down Delhi's development in several ways. Although Delhi's population is blessed by higher public spending per capita than citizens elsewhere in the country, the role of the state in Delhi's affairs has been largely pernicious. Themes such as administrative centralisation, the paradox of a 'planned city' which is systematically subverted by its politics, and the estrangement which marks Delhi-dwellers, figured prominently in an Indo-French seminar on Delhi which was held few months ago. Entitled 'Delhi Games: Use and Control of Urban Space Power Games and Actors' Strategies', this seminar was jointly organised by the French Centre for Human Sciences and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, at the end of a five-year collaborative research project consumption purposes, is increased on the basis of the track record of repayment. This could be just the tip of the iceberg and such private moneylenders could be flourishing in the state's other districts as well Fearing the high transaction cost involved in financing small borrowers, banks may be hesitant to enter this area for possible business development. But the phenomenon suggests that there is scope for enlarging micro-credit delivery through linkage with self-help groups. Banks can take the initiative in forming such self-help groups in the villages.

Paranoia Masquerading as a Review

for empowering women, along with a well- defined gender development index to monitor the impact of its implementation in raising the status of women from time to time. The plan document, time and again, speaks of capacity building. However, at the operational part, it speaks only of invigorating some of the traditional programmes like 'Rashtriya Mahila Kosh'.

Rhetoric of Participation

A Voice for the Excluded: Popular Participation in Development: Utopia or Necessity? by Matthias Stiefel and Marshall Wolfe; Zed Books, London, in association with UNRISD, Geneva, 1994; pp 265, price not stated.

Fate of the Forest Conservation and Tribal Rights

The recent circulation of a draft Forest Act has once again brought into question the future of India's forests. The draft Act proposes to take a strongly conservationist stand against environmental degradation by severely restricting people's rights to the forest. How environmentally successful and socially just will such a policy be?

Narmada Sangharsh Yatra-State s Response and Its Consequences

State's Response and Its Consequences Amita Baviskar The reasons behind the government's refusal to reply constructively to the Narmada Bachao Andolan's arguments and demands or to engage in a meaningful debate reveal a great deal about the nature of the state and its fear of people's movements.


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