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

Articles by Shankar GopalakrishnanSubscribe to Shankar Gopalakrishnan

The Conflict in India’s Forests: Will State-driven Expropriation Continue?

State-driven forest management has essentially been about expropriation for powerful interests. What will this mean for the Forest Rights Act under the new government?

There are Signs of Hope in the Fight against Saffron Violence in Uttarakhand

After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in the 2017 elections in Uttarakhand, there was a spike in efforts by various groups to stoke violence. At the same time, there was also a resistance to these efforts and it now seems that the resistance may be having some degree of success.

It Is Not Just about Fences

Discussions on human–wildlife conflict in India typically take place within a narrow frame, viewing the problem as a result of human “encroachment” into wildlife territories, and hence, one that primarily needs to be addressed by “compensating,” relocating or “protecting” local communities. Most research focuses on protected areas and severely underestimates the scale of the problem. This study, based on field surveys in Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, throws up a different picture, where conflict is a major problem, but one to which structures and practices of forest management in the country are a central contributor. It also points to how more democratic and rights-respecting approaches to forest management must be an essential part of any solution.

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.

Nightmares of an Agricultural Capitalist Economy

This essay presents the findings of a detailed study, done in late 2014, of the conditions of tea estate workers in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu. It attempts to place these findings in the context of larger debates over capitalist agriculture and current policy efforts to promote corporatisation and commercialisation of the sector.

A Struggle Over Class and Space in an Indian City

Daily wage workers, the most marginalised urban residents, standing at roadsides to secure work is an age-old practice in India. The recent police atrocities towards them at the Jakhan Chowk in Dehradun, in the name of "clearing", reflect several facets of the evolving political economy of India's cities.

The Nature of Recent Media-Fuelled Movements

There is an inherent problematic in the media-fuelled protests and street demonstrations - these are characterised by depoliticised demands and fragmented mobilisations, played to create an "echo chamber" effect for the media's purposes. However, it is not as if they do not create a space for expanding popular struggle, something that progressives should be aware of and must utilise.

Blame the Forest Management System

The Elephant Task Force's report draws attention to the basic difference between tigers and elephants in that the latter do not operate in bounded territories. However, India's forest management system, inherited from the British, is still based on the premise that forests cover a specific territory that have to be governed in a repressive fashion for the extraction of profit. The plight of elephants is only a small part of the larger social and economic conflicts and issues this has thrown up. Unless there is true social and democratic land use planning in the country, there is little hope of the task force's many recommendations achieving anything substantial.

Corporate Retail: Dangerous Implications for India's Economy

Rather than being a panacea for Indian agriculture, corporate food provision will likely accelerate many key elements of India's agricultural crisis. It will produce a decline in land productivity, reduce food security, adversely affect price stability and will tend to negatively impact employment and credit relations. This paper explores the changes in class and social relations that come about with the transition to a corporate system of food provisioning. It considers the potential impacts of such changes in the Indian context.

Forest Rights

Madhu Ramnath’s ‘Surviving the Forest Rights Act’ (March 1) is a good survey of the debate around the Forest Rights Act. However, some facts may need clarification or correction.

Negative Aspects of Special Economic Zones in China

The general impression that China's special economic zones are a remarkable success is an incomplete one. Left out of the picture are inequities in development, arable land loss, real estate speculation and labour violence.

Defining, Constructing and Policing a 'New India'

The advance of neoliberalism is seen to have either resulted from or accompanied the accession to power of repressive and socially reactionary political forces (as seen in the UK and the US of the 1980s). However, in understanding India of the 1980s and 1990s, the nature of the links between neoliberalism and the Hindu right does not appear entirely obvious. This article explores the deeper, common political goals that neoliberalism and Hindutva share. Such sharing does not represent a complete merger of these forces nor is it a purely opportunistic alliance. On the other hand, such alliances represent common class interests by articulating shared notions of a bounded, unitary and individual-based conception of society, as opposed to a community-based society.


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