ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Governance of Waste

Well-versed in the production of waste, corporate capital has not generally focused on capitalising on waste. The discards of consumption, previously approached broadly as mere waste, have recently found rebirth in an increasingly corporate waste market in India. Ranging from contracts for waste collection and incineration-plant installation to sales of recyclables, formal businesses are entering the business of revaluing waste, often to the detriment of India’s already existing informal waste sector that has long conducted its own waste-based businesses. This new, increasingly corporate, business of waste is intimately connected to a new waste governance regime in India. Concerns regarding two symbolically significant waste streams, municipal solid waste and electronic waste, illuminate waste beyond its “management,” and demonstrate its embeddedness in matters of consumerism, informal-sector livelihoods, and urban ecology.

Why Do Institutions Shy Away from Action?

Coastal zone management authorities—which were created for the implementation of Coastal Regulation Zone notifications to regulate the use of space for the entire coastline of India at the state level—are relinquishing their powers. Across coastal states, a particular diffidence is seen in taking cognisance of CRZ violations and addressing them. First, when does an institution refuse to use the powers assigned to it? Is it when the powers to enforce are not balanced by protection to them? Or is it when there is a lack of political will? Second, are the instances of inaction borne out of a fear of backlash or a sheer lack of leadership amongst the members to take bold decisions? The paper concludes with identifying a few of the factors that can make the institutions act.

The Industrial Project and Organised Labour

This paper looks at the responses of organised labour to the “development” project exemplified by the steel plant, the big dam and the power plant. More precisely, it analyses the presence (or not) of an ecological critique in trade union/labour responses to industrial projects. The paper explores theoretical connections between class-based politics and ecological questions. It delineates some of the specific processes and conditions which can facilitate the entry of ecological issues into the imaginations of a trade union, using the experiences of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha in central India in the process. It argues that “class consciousness” is hardly a deterrent for an engagement with ecology, if one adequately understands the definitions of “class,” labour and production. In India’s specific context, the coming together of the concerns and imaginations of the industrial worker and the Adivasi peasant/farmer can facilitate this conversation between “red” and “green” imaginations.

The Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act represented a historic step forward for forest management in India, and it is often hailed as such. However, it did not emerge from struggles for the control over forests alone, but was a product of an ongoing intersection between political conflict, features of Indian capitalism, and the conceptions of “environment” and “development” in India’s political discourse. In that sense, it is not only an “environmental” legislation, but an economic and social one, and one that belongs to a particular political conjuncture, representing both its limitations, and more importantly, its liberatory possibilities. This paper looks at the FRA in this context and explores how it grew out of this kind of politics, being marked both by the constraints of this period, and by the spaces it created for genuinely new conceptions and processes of development.

The Task of the Climate Translator

Climate translations or stories must move between different registers to imaginatively engage with and express life in the Anthropocene. They must give visible form to the diverse climate imaginaries that proliferate in the world. These stories, however, remain unexamined. Following Walter Benjamin, translation is here conceptualised as a movement across domains wherein the translated version need not literally adhere to the original, but should rather aim to carry its echo. An instance of the form potential climate translations might assume is provided through an ethnographic account of human–animal relations in the Indian Himalaya. It compares and contrasts mainstream scientific accounts of animal endangerment/extinction and conflict to embedded but distinct Himalayan stories of multispecies relationality. These seemingly different accounts share a recognisably similar consciousness of human impact, inter-species entanglements, and climatic change.

India and Africa in the Global Agricultural System (1961–2050)

The asynchronous but somewhat similar agricultural trajectories of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, especially India, are analysed over nearly a century (1961–2050). Millions of pieces of data available on the past (1961–2007) and on a plausible future (2006–50 projections by the Food and Agriculture Organization) are organised in a simple world food model where production, trade and consumption are aggregated and balanced in calories. Given the current and/or future land–labour relationships that characterise India and Africa, can these regions experience the same structural transformation that the developed countries went through, or work together towards a new sociotechnical regime by developing their own regionally differentiated labour-intensive production investments and technological capacities for economic, social, and ecological sustainability?

Non-farm Economy in Madhubani, Bihar

Based on a field study of two large settlements, the social dynamics of “rural” non-farm economy in the Madhubani district of Bihar are explored. Both these settlements—a census town and a gram panchayat— have a sizeable working population employed in a variety of non-farm occupations. The different types of non-farm activities in these locations are catalogued while examining the dynamics of caste, community and gender within the social organisation of the non-farm economy. The persistence of social hierarchies, differential incomes and discriminatory practices within the emergent non-farm economy are highlighted, even as the “traditional” jajmani-type social structure has nearly completely disintegrated.

Declassification of Census Towns in West Bengal

Eighty-one new census towns in West Bengal are on the verge of declassification in the 2021 Census. This must not be understood to mean that non-farm workers are moving into farm activities. Rather, evidences suggest that growth of farm employment has simply outpaced that of non-farm employment in these new census towns and is possibly the reason behind their imminent declassification. The case of Patuli, which is only considered as an example, shows that non-farm activities, especially trading, are witnessing a fall-off phase and that it failed to expand owing to the loss of its market town/rural service centre character over time, goaded by some local factors. This has led to the subsequent inability to generate sufficient full-time jobs at Patuli. More studies are required to build a comprehensive outlook on the policy measures required to preserve the role of these new census towns as market towns and/or rural service centres in the future.

Caste Discrimination and Agricultural Performance in India

Using data from the Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households, this paper attempts to understand caste-based discrimination and differences in the performance of Indian agriculture by analysing caste-wise differences in various factors of input and output. The results show that disadvantages originating in caste-based discrimination make socially marginalised groups in agriculture end up with low access to resources, low levels of productivity, and low realisation of returns.

Farm Power Policies and Groundwater Markets

With India emerging as the world’s largest groundwater irrigator, marginal farmers and tenants in many parts have come to depend on informal water markets for irrigation. Power subsidies have grown these markets and made them pro-poor, but are also responsible for groundwater depletion, and for financial troubles of electricity distribution companies of India or DISCOMs. Gujarat has successfully reduced subsidies by rationing farm power supply, and West Bengal has done so by charging farmers commercial power tariff on metered consumption. Subsidy reforms have hit poor farmers and tenants hard in both the states. Gujarat has tried to support the poor, with some success, by prioritising them in allocating new tube well connections. We argue that West Bengal too can support its poor by tweaking its farm power pricing formula to turn a sellers’ water market into a buyers’ one.

Networks, Solidarities and Emerging Alternatives

How a farmers’ movement, in its declining phase and amidst agrarian distress, is building new alliances, incorporating new frameworks and attempting to create alternatives is explored. The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, one among the farmers’ movements of the 1980s, became a member of a transnational agrarian movement, La Via Campesina in 1996 to confront issues that were “global” in nature. Based on ethnography during 2011−12 and focusing on the linkages of the KRRS with LVC, the simultaneity of different processes at play within the KRRS are explored to shed light upon how shared understandings are intertwined with the perception and practice of politics, the multiple meanings attached to the terms “local” and “global,” and the discourses and practices of alternative agriculture.


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