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

Kuntala Lahiri-DuttSubscribe to Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

Gold Mining Institutions in Nilgiri–Wayanad

An exploration of the complex development of gold mining in the Nilgiri–Wayanad region of southern India demonstrates how entwined histories disrupt simple taxonomic structures of “formality” and “informality.” Drawing on the long history of gold mining in the region that dates back to the 1830s, this paper presents a counter-example to the conventional view that institutions develop in a trajectory of informality to formality. To do this, the paper identifies three distinct phases of development in the gold mining industry of this region that mark and encompass shifts in governance of the area, global economic trends, commercial investment, property rights, government funding, influx of repatriate communities, and other social issues in the local economy. The analysis concludes that institutions in the region have evolved from formal–artisanal to formal–industrial, and then to informal–small scale.

Reconsidering Women’s Work in Rural India

The most recent data gathered by the National Sample Survey Office on work participation for women in India reveal a sharp decline, primarily due to the NSSO’s conventional measures not accounting for economic activities undertaken by women for the benefit of households. Alternative definitional approaches to the production boundary, such as the Indian System of National Accounts and the United Nations System of National Accounts, somewhat better account for unpaid work by women for households’ own consumption. An analysis of data from the part of the NSSO schedule on employment and unemployment (for 2004–05 and 2011–12) that enquires about various activities undertaken by individuals who report performing household activities as their principal activity, reveals a less dramatic decline than that presented by the more conventional measure of work participation. This finding contributes to a significant rethinking of how rural women’s contributions to economic activities for their own households can be better recognised through data.

Livelihoods of Marginal Mining and Quarrying Households in India

Presenting an exploratory approach by which quantitative data from the National Sample Survey can be analysed to throw light on the most marginal households whose primary occupation is recorded as mining and quarrying, this paper finds that a large portion of mining and quarrying is carried out informally by marginal households from disadvantaged social groups. The majority of them are concentrated in stone and marble quarries, living on the edge of poverty, earning irregular incomes, and with poor access to services and utilities. Considering the likely numbers involved and their vulnerability, the paper suggests that mining and quarrying households should receive better policy attention.

PhD Theses and Online Availability in India

Locking away awarded PhD theses instead of publishing them for public and academic knowledge only encourages mediocrity and enhances poor academic practices. It also propagates unhealthy hierarchy among universities and hinders the advancement of knowledge.

Land Acquisition and Dispossession

This article presents an investigation into strategies employed by privately-owned companies to gain access to land for resource extraction in Jharkhand where much of the land being put under the shovel is inalienable adivasi or tribal land and deedless commons. It concludes that although policy reforms are welcome, cosmetic changes in mineral governance laws are inadequate to protect the interests of the poor. It suggests an alternative vision, a complete overhaul of mineral ownership to allow the poor to share the revenue benefits.

Illegal Coal Mining in Eastern India:Rethinking Legitimacy and Limits of Justice

Commonly presented as arising from poor policing and corruption, and as destroying the environmental commons, "illegal" production and marketing of coal is a significant aspect of everyday life in eastern India. Representations of illegality hide unpleasant social realities of the coal mining tracts: poor environmental performance of the state-owned mining sector, social disruption and displacement of communities, and a general decay in the traditional subsistence base. This paper works through the complex layers of mining laws and investigates whether the laws protect the interests of the disadvantaged. It offers a rethinking of what causes and constitutes illegality when a large number of people's livelihoods depend on this kind of mining.

Coal Sector Loans and Displacement of Indigenous Populations

This paper deals with the issue of displacement of the local communities as part of the Coal India mining project in Parej East in Jharkhand. It analyses the report of the World Bank's inspection panel, which examined the complaints regarding the handling of resettlement and rehabilitation of project-affected persons by Coal India. The panel found numerous flaws in the planning and implementation of the project, including several instances of non-compliance with the Bank's directives.

Of Surviving Change

Contested Belonging: An Indigenous People’s Struggle for Forest and Identity in SubHimalayan Bengal by B G Karlsson; Curzon Press, UK, 2000; pp 310+XVIII, price not stated.

Barmicede's Feast

Effects of Globalisation on Industry and the Environment edited by Rajat Acharyya and Bhaswar Moitra; Lancer’s Books, New Delhi, 2001; pp 306, Rs 595.

Ecological Economics

Ecological Economics Ecology and Economics: An Approach to Sustainable Development by Ramprasad Sengupta; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp xvii+264, Rs 495.

From Gin Girls to Scavengers

In the beginning, the coal mining industry employed women from the adivasi and lower caste communities in various stages of production. Their role continued to be significant as long as technology remained labour-intensive and collieries were small and surface-bound. The expansion of the industry and increasing mechanisation saw a decline in women's participation. This paper based on research in the Raniganj coalbelt in eastern India describes how the work of resource extraction becomes gendered, the growing marginalisation of women, and their increasing alienation from access to environmental resources and their transformation into illegitimate and invisible beings.

Rebirth of a River

Two almost simultaneous yet dissimilar decisions on the fate of rivers - Australia's decision to release waters to 'restore' the Snowy river and the Indian Supreme Court's judgment on the Sardar Sarovar Project - raises questions once more about notions of 'river planning' and 'harnessing of rivers'. Following environmental concerns about the Snowy's declining flow, a popular agitation that saw a broad-based participation of experts, politicians and even the layman, finally restored to the Snowy much of its previous flow. The judgment will hopefully set a precedent for similar cases, not merely for Australia, but across the world.

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