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

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Privatising the Commons

Communities, Commons and Corporations by Perspectives (New Delhi: Perspectives), 2012; pp 164, Rs 100.

Several hundred million people across rural India depend on the commons – natural resources such as forests, pastureland, “wasteland”, coasts, lakes and rivers that are shared by the community – for their livelihoods. These livelihoods are under threat with the state handing over these resources at an accelerating pace to corporations for industrial or commercial use. How has it come to be that communities have no legal rights over the natural resources they have used for generations? How does the state justify privatising these commons? How are communities reacting to this challenge to their lives and livelihoods? These and related questions drive the subject matter of the book under review.

Communities, Commons and Corporations is authored by Perspectives, a group of students and teachers from Delhi’s universities. The group declares in its programme that its task is to “document the lives and struggles of people on the margins of law and society”.1 Perspectives has produced a few other works of such documentation in the past. Its earliest work, Abandoned: Development and Displacement, dates to 2007 and has been reviewed in this weekly.2

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