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

Conflict, Transition And DevelopmentSubscribe to Conflict, Transition And Development

Peeling the Onion

Afghanistan's hope that market-driven agriculture will ensure its economic transformation demonstrates a wilful disregard of the links between the economic and political marketplaces in the country, and the pervasive rent-seeking practices of informal and formal power holders. This paper, based on a study of the onion markets in Nangarhar, a south-eastern province, reports on how an agricultural commodity market works in practice, and the ways in which social relationships regulate access to it. It is not access to credit and market information that constrains growth, as aid agencies seem to believe, but the practices of a trade elite that largely operates on informal credit and relationships of trust based on close personal networks.

Making Pickles during a Ceasefire

Development projects in the North East are packaged as economic interventions to improve the lives of people, but are detached from militarised ground realities. These initiatives to rebuild post-conflict societies mainly focus on training entrepreneurs and promoting livelihood schemes while overlooking how violence has transformed the very foundation of these societies. Generalising from the example of a workshop on food preservation in Nagaland that had no participants, this paper points out that governance should be rooted in the political and social history of a place - it should not be categorised as a time-bound crisis management project.

Myanmar: Conflicts over Land in a Time of Transition

Secure and just land tenure, and sound management of land and natural resources are crucial to easing conflicts between farmers, the State, and extractive industries. This paper underlines that Myanmar cannot hope to achieve inclusive social and economic development without a just and comprehensive framework that protects the land rights of small farmers, ethnic minorities, and the poor. A lack of participation and transparency in land management, coupled with legal and institutional weaknesses that work in favour of big capital rather than small farmers and the rural poor, poses a major challenge to the country's social and economic reform programme.

Contradictions of the Sri Lankan State

The policies of the Sri Lankan state since the late 1970s have seen a widening gap between its neo-liberal foundations and its attempts to claim popular legitimacy, and this structure of politics seems set to persist. This paper argues that the tension between neo-liberalism and populism is articulated in the disparity between the island's urban and rural areas, and vice versa. This defines contradictory aspects of the Sri Lankan state as we understand its appeal to different constituencies, both the new urban middle classes and increasingly impoverished small farmers. Instead of looking at how neo-liberalism deploys populism to garner mass support, the study examines the messy consequences of the ways in which populism attempts to manage the effects of neo-liberalism, manifest primarily in the increasing immiseration of the masses.

The Reintegration of Maoist Ex-Combatants in Nepal

In Nepal, a decade-long insurgency, led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) continued till 2006, claimed more than 13,000 lives, and displaced thousands of people. Arguing that Nepal has moved forward in reintegrating its former combatants, this paper points out that this is a task that many other countries have failed to carry out successfully. It demonstrates that the country's approach to reintegration was unique and unorthodox, but, in some ways, effective. Nevertheless, there were problems and some of them persist, especially to do with social reintegration, in particular, gender and caste relations. The process of reintegration is far from complete, given that the former combatants left their cantonments only in 2012.

Protests and Counter Protests

The value of civil society lies in that it provides a space for alternative views, debate, and dissent. Yet, this paper points out, civil society in post-war Sri Lanka is captive to the forces of local and global politics. While this has resulted in the emergence of new forms of resistance and dissent, it has also given rise to less palatable, illiberal, and dangerous movements such as the resurgence of radical Sinhala Buddhist activism. The tacit state approval granted to these movements has meant that state response to different civil society groups has been markedly lopsided. Thus, post-war Sri Lankan society has been subject to greater state control and an extreme polarisation of values and ideas.

War, Conflict and Development

These articles on the challenges of development in post-war or post-conflict societies offer an opportunity to engage critically with the issue from a viewpoint that embraces politically contextualised and non-paradigmatic approaches to war and conflict. At the same time, they underline the importance of exceeding it to enable the recovery of other political, economic and social problematics. Such an approach is a necessary first step in reimagining dominant approaches to development in the context of war and transitions and setting really transformative agendas.
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