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Judicial Failure on Land Acquisition for Corporations

Despite the 1984 amendment of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, the judiciary has continued to allow farmland to be acquired freely, with "public purpose" being given the widest possible scope. In the period of globalisation such acquisition has promoted private corporate interests, the state, in turn, becoming an estate agent of the companies. The article focuses on land acquisition under Part II for the state and its instrumentalities and agencies and compares this with Part VII of the Act, which relates to acquisition for a company. The way forward is for the judiciary to compel all acquisitions for companies to follow the Part VII route.

Commercial Microfinance and Social Responsibility: A Critique

Working within the logic of maximising investor returns, the strategic focus of Indian microfinance institutions seems to have shifted from serving the poor borrowers to chasing profits. The commercial transformation of MFIs has been accompanied by changes in the structure of ownership, management and nature of their stakeholder commitment. This essay discusses some of the critical inadequacies in the approaches advocated and currently practised by the commercial MFIs in order to restore the sector's focus on poor borrowers.

A Left Approach to Development

Against the "means-based approach" to development that the bourgeoisie projects, the left must project a "rights-based approach". Since "rights" are guarantors of welfare gains, every winning of rights likewise strengthens them. The acquisition of rights on the part of the people, including rights to minimum bundles of goods, services and security, amounts therefore to winning crucial battles in the class war for the transcendence of capitalism. If the left were to put on its agenda a struggle for people's rights and adopt a rights-based approach to development as opposed to the means-based approach of the bourgeois formations, it would not constitute a retreat into abstract humanism but would be an integral part of the dialectics of subversion of the logic of capital.

Primary Accumulation, Capitalist Nature and Sustainability

The relationship between capital and nature gravitates towards a policy of primary accumulation. This article provides an analysis of the imposition of capitalist property rights over natural resources in India as processes of primary accumulation. These processes are evidenced by the construction of large dams and mines, in addition to the proliferation of free market environmentalism. Moreover, the scope for primary accumulation remains substantial in view of the hydel potential and new circuits of accumulation emerge under the auspices of free market environmentalism. Are the desiderata of ecological sustainability and human development realised under the logic of primary accumulation and a neoliberal commitment to economic growth?

The NREGA, the Maoists and the Developmental Woes of the Indian State

The United Progressive Alliance government's much touted fl agship programme under the National Rural Employment Act is aimed at countering some of the developmental woes of the Indian state in the backward regions. The Maoists are active in some of the most backward areas and the government has been accusing them of stalling development. Hence, the current solution as operationalised by the government is to fl ush out the anti-developmentalists by force and then proceed with development. We examine these issues through a case study of the NREGA in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa. The districts chosen were from the fi rst 200 where the NREGA has been implemented from 2006 onwards and are also under the infl uence of the Maoists.

The Bhopal Catastrophe: Politics, Conspiracy and Betrayal

Despite the Union Carbide Corporation being criminally liable for the Bhopal catastrophe, the government, though being the sole representative of the victims, colluded with the UCC and compromised the interests of the affected people. The UCC and its Indian subsidiary, the Union of India and the state of Madhya Pradesh made sure that the victims would not obtain compensation comparable to the damages awarded in similar mass tort actions in the United States. Moreover, even with the re-institution of criminal liability, the UCC accused have been allowed to evade prosecution. The trial court in Bhopal had no option but to hand down a sentence, equivalent to what is given for causing death by negligence in a traffic accident! Bhopal has hastened the decline in the standards of judicial decisions on the environment more than any other case.

The Politics of Not Counting Caste

In the debate on whether or not to count caste in the 2011 Census, there has been too little reflection on the implicit assumptions and analogies about both the census and caste that underpin the positions that have been taken. This article attempts to identify the major models that have been tacitly at work. Questioning the view that the status quo is benign or neutral, it argues that not counting caste has defeated the desire to transcend caste, and suggests that "caste blindness" be rejected in favour of a fresh beginning.

Slumdog Millionaire and Epistemologies of the City

Much of the critical and popular controversy surrounding the 2009 fi lm Slumdog Millionaire is derived from misconceptions over the representational possibilities of popular fi lm, as well as the overwhelming national framework of fi lm criticism. By locating the ways in which the dystopic aesthetic of Danny Boyle's earlier fi lm, Trainspotting, is energised when it meets the Mumbai slum, this essay argues that Slumdog explores the role of informal knowledge in the navigation of changing urban landscapes. In this way, it is not despite, but through, the fi lm's refusal of realist generic conventions that it offers its interpretation of the city.

India's Social Question in a State of Denial

In the four and a half years of its existence the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector submitted nine reports exploring a variety of conditions in India's "unorganised" sector. It is not surprising that the analyses and recommendations of these reports have been ignored by the government, for they call attention to the urgent need to address the inequality and non-inclusiveness in India's growth process. A refl ection on the NCEUS' reports, in particular the last report of the commission on the challenge of employment.

State of Research on Forced Migration in the East and North-East

Among the major aspects of forced migration in India's east and north-east that deserve attention are border and boundary confl ict, security, and refugees, the large presence of internally displaced persons in the region due to various confl icts and development projects, and mass-scale displacement due to natural disasters and environmental degradation leading to resource confl icts in recent times. A workshop organised by the Calcutta Research Group in Guwahati in February 2010 refl ected on the present body of work and future trends in research on forced migration in India's east and north-east.

Bt Brinjal: Need to Refocus the Debate

The Bt brinjal debate has featured technological worries relating to genetically modified crops, which appear relatively minor in comparison to the critical issue of who controls Indian agriculture and therefore who controls food security in India. While there cannot be a mere technological fix to the problems of Indian agriculture, technology - and therefore GM - will still be part of the solutions. Sadly, techno-worries - pitched by many who are opposed to technology and modernity - have held centre stage in the Bt brinjal debates.

Civilians and Citizenship: Perspectives on Civil War in South Asia

We need to go beyond conceptions of civilians caught up in civil war as direct participants or supporters of insurgent parties or innocent victims and objects of humanitarian intervention. We need to see them as citizens whose choices and predicaments influence the course of such wars. When such a paradigmatic approach is adopted, new normative and theoretical concerns arise. A discussion of issues that emerged at a workshop on civil war in south Asia.

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