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

Rural LivelihoodsSubscribe to Rural Livelihoods

The Need to Overhaul Wasteland Classification Systems in India

The term “wastelands” originates from land governance systems in the colonial period, and it has been criticised in academia and conservation for being ecologically flawed. Although wastelands have been redefined in the post-independence period, there has been little change in the assumption that they were unproductive, degraded, and in need of external intervention for improvement. The eradication of the term “waste” and a thorough revision of the wastelands atlas, which can then meaningfully address national and global targets of sustainable development, are argued for here. This article weaves together historical contexts around wastelands and proposes a new approach for their mapping.

The Wicked Problem of Sustainable Bamboo Management

From poor person’s timber to rich man’s green gold, bamboo is truly the “cradle to coffin timber” for the people of various strata and geographies. Bamboo is a gift of nature and India is blessed with the world’s largest bamboo resource. But the existing utilisation of the bamboo sector in the country remains underdeveloped and its share in domestic consumption and international trade is negligible. With depleting natural resources and changing policy scenarios, such as the ban on single-use plastic, bamboo is increasingly looked upon as the most preferred alternative wood material. It has thousands of well-documented applications in daily life. Despite having such enormous potential for both nature and society, the bamboo industry in the country is still at a nascent stage. Although bamboo management may appear to be a “wicked problem” with no immediate solution, changing policy regimes and growing interest of various stakeholders can potentially provide a way to revive the bamboo sector.

Restoring Employment and Rural Landscapes

The national lockdown unleashed an unprecedented economic crisis on millions of poor urban migrants who lost their employment and were forced to “reverse-migrate” to their homes on foot over vast distances. However, the rural areas—from where they originated—were already reeling under severe and rapid economic and ecological degradation and were ill-equipped to deal with this sudden increase in the demand for livelihood opportunities. In this paper, we demonstrate the potential of “ecological restoration” of primarily rural landscapes in India to generate rapid and high-volume employment along with other co-benefits.

De-feminisation of Agricultural Wage Labour in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal

A study of three villages in Jalpaiguri district, West Bengal, reveals that there is an alarming decline in female agricultural wage labour, resulting in de-feminisation, devastating poverty and outmigration of young boys and men in the Terai region. De-agrarianisation in combination with the revived patriarchal “good woman” ideology explains the crises of female wage labour. The Government of West Bengal’s Anandadhara programme seeks to integrate poor women into the financial flow through microcredit/self-helf groups. However, poor landless and marginal farm women are faced with various obstacles in becoming self-employed entrepreneurs.

Life Histories and Long-Term Change

Not only do life histories provide insights into the complexity and variety of individual lives and social relationships, they enable us to identify patterns and issues of greater generality. Analysing the'life histories' collected in course of fieldwork in a West Bengal village, this paper seeks in turn to understand rural livelihoods, while also exploring the methodological issues involved in using such information to complement other qualitative and quantitative data.

WTO Agriculture Agreement, Common Property Resources and Income Diversification Strategy

In the wake of the dismantling of the quantitative restriction (QR) regimes and the ongoing round of negotiations on the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), India and other like-minded developing countries have been raising fundamental concerns on the likely adverse impact of the AoA on their food and livelihood security systems. Simultaneously, the government of India has also initiated measures for carefully monitoring and regulating the import liberalisation process ushered in by the Exim policy 2001-02. Based on these developments, this paper advocates rigorous negotiation positions and proactive programmes of development in order to address the pressing problems arising from the AoA. Developing countries, whose agrarian economies are characterised by 'ecosystemic multifunctionality', have the scope for providing income diversification opportunities for the weaker sections of the farming communities through development of common property resources. This then could form the best safety net to contain the fallout of the agri-agreement.
Back to Top