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

Ajay DandekarSubscribe to Ajay Dandekar

Lives in Debt

A study in two districts recording high numbers of farmer suicide—Yavatmal in Maharashtra and Sangrur in Punjab—explores the tipping point for this desperate act and finds that in addition to the shame of indebtedness, especially when borrowing from members of the family, several other factors contribute to farmer suicides. These include faulty cropping patterns, rising input costs, aspirational consumption, and the absence of non-farm sources of income.

Contested Spaces, Democratic Rights

The Maharashtra government's village forest rules seek to overturn the rights regime established in the letter of the law by the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act and the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 in terms of both community rights, as well as the rights over minor forest produce. Moreover, the rules write away the future rights of the community over forests and their management and control over minor forest produce in perpetuity. These are also ultra vires of the rules regime agreed and enacted by an act of Parliament.

Democracy and Its Inconvenient Questions

The case of the local people's grievance against the mining of iron ore for the Bhilai steel plant from Rowghat in the reserved forest area of Chhattisgarh, a Fifth Schedule Area, is just one more example of the infringement of constitutional rights and guarantees. It also portends what is to come with the polity poised to take a decisive right-wing turn.

The Case of Maharashtra's Disappearing Water

Maharashtra is facing a severe drought while there are allegations of a massive scam in the execution of irrigation projects. The white paper on irrigation projects, brought out by the state government, glosses over a number of major concerns. Until there is a fundamental shift in state policy based on the willingness to look upon the right to water as being on par with the right to life, the state will continue to frequently face the spectre of drought.

The 97th Amendment

The 97th amendment to the Constitution inserts a critical point into Article 19(1)(c) by recognising the right of the people to form cooperative societies as a fundamental right. It envisages their insulation from political interference, and infusion of greater managerial skills and autonomy into their functioning. However, there is the possibility of the managerial element overriding the concerns of the members and lack of sufficient room for an effective state intervention when required.

Warli Social History

The overwhelming motif of this study that stretches across three periods of Warli history - the pre-British period; the colonial era and the post-independence era, is the depiction of the 'outsider as exploiter'. However, an increasing devolution of self-assertion in recent years has provided such hitherto marginalised groups a new opportunity to claim their rights and reaffirm their identities in a new context. But self-rule needs a history and a reconstruction of Warli history can only begin with a relook at their oral traditions.
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