Terra Firma: Re-Examining Land Rights within the Mosaic of Development, Democracy and Justice
11 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 7, 2015
Past few months have witnessed an intense debate and emotional turmoil over the Land Acquisition law not only in the Parliament but also on streets and corners spanning India. The struggle over land rights is not new; rather it has been long and continuous. However, in contemporary situation, the state is abetting pro-capitalist neoliberal agenda while amending the existing land laws and policies. Under the new scheme, the plan is to allow acquisition of the land while overriding several social clauses and award the same to industries and businesses on highly lucrative terms. This is a cause for contestation, resentment and struggle. For years, farmers, peasants, fisherman, local artisans and all those actors in communities who depend on the land for their livelihood and survival are facing serious issues in the realm of compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation and most importantly, in the arena of ownership and their continued existence. Therefore, this neo liberal development model is leading to destruction and devastation of the poor and the marginalized by taking away their 'everything' – from the community style living and culture to their entitlement to land and their livelihood, alienating them and making them vulnerable and the 'other' in their own soil. Hence, they are protesting in different ways at various places. The current situation therefore is such that the government is pushing for reform in land laws on one hand and on the other the subalterns are strongly resisting this restructuring of laws and policies to evict them from their home. It is leading to an intense ideological conflict and a new form of democracy is emerging out of this churning, giving rise to a new form of politics where marginalized are countering the state apparatus to negotiate their claims and entitlements. This piece of writing will examine the situation of hegemonic economist regime through the critical framework relating to rights, justice, redistribution, equality and ethics which is resurrecting the new politics of citizenship thus altering the discourse on democracy and people’s participation in governance.
Keywords: Land Acquisition Act, land laws, development, rights, justice, democracy, subalterns, citizens
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