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

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Changing Voting Patterns in Rural West Bengal

This paper uses two successive rounds of voter surveys in rural West Bengal in a household panel to find reasons for the recent decline in the Left Front's political popularity. It does not find evidence of any significant role of changes in voter age distribution, media exposure, private benefits received from development and welfare programmes administered by local governments, or the vote-generating effectiveness of such programmes. A more important role was played by voter dissatisfaction with local leaders on corruption and lack of involvement in the provision of education services, and with non-local leaders on attitudes towards women, the poor, and local communities.

Land Acquisition and Compensation

The web version of this article corrects errors that appeared in the print edition. There has been a renumbering of two tables and a new table that was not printed has been included. Please see Tables 3a and 3b (page 35). This paper reports results of a household survey in 12 Singur villages, six in which lands were acquired for the Tata car factory, and six neighbouring villages, with random sampling of households within each village. The results show that (a) the size of plots acquired were non-negligible; (b) the majority of those affected were marginal landowners engaged in cultivation; (c) the government's compensation offers were approximately equal to the reported market values of acquired plots on average, but the inability of the official land records to distinguish between plots of heterogeneous quality meant that a substantial fraction of farmers were under-compensated relative to market values; (d) those under-compensated were significantly more likely to refuse the compensation offers, as were those whose livelihoods were more dependent on agriculture; (e) incomes and durable consumption of affected owners and tenants grew slower between 2005 and 2010 compared with unaffected owners and tenants; (f) earnings of affected workers fell faster than unaffected workers. Therefore, land acquisition resulted in substantial economic hardship for large sections of the rural population, for many of whom compensation offered was inadequate.
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