Land Questions in Neoliberal India

Land Questions in Neoliberal India

09-Oct-2017 to 11-Oct-2017
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In recent years, questions pertaining to land in India have become more relevant and critical for policy planners, bureaucrats, civil society activists and academics than ever before. Earlier land revenue was a critical factor for the consolidation of the British Empire. In the post-colonial period, the contribution of the land revenue to the national exchequer has lost its central place. Yet the importance of land ownership/land tenure/land rights as the basis of the Indian state’s vision for a just and democratic social order continues to be an important concern. Land questions /issues in India can be said to have appeared, disappeared and reappeared in the policy agenda of the Indian state since the 1990s thanks to the neoliberal economic reforms. Demographic pressure, massive and uncontrolled changes in land use, conversion of agricultural and irrigated land for non-agricultural purposes and related sustainability issues, vanishing common property resources, changing agrarian relations, marginalisation of landless agricultural labourers and tenants, growth of landlessness across all social categories, decline in per capita landholding size, rise of the  rich agrarian classes, continuities and change in tenancy, gender issues in land, forest rights to tribals and other forest dwellers, are some of the indicators of the importance of remerging land issues in India. The state in India, in the contemporary political economy, has virtually abandoned its redistributive agenda of land reform and instead is pursuing land titling regime in a “reform by stealth” approach. Land management issues have taken the place of land reform agenda.

India’s rural-agrarian scene is undergoing massive changes. Urbanisation and peri-urban growth, the rise of the so-called rurban phenomenon and urban villages, point towards important short term and long-term policy implications. In urban areas, massive investments initiated by the Indian state to develop the so-called ‘smart cities’ in order to make them emerge as engines of growth, have brought up the hitherto unexplored subject of urban property rights and records. The commodification of urban land and rapid growth of real estate sectors   in the Indian cities have created the problems of the urban commons, right to city and inclusive city. The focus of this three day seminar will be to initiate critical policy-related thinking on all these emerging interconnected land questions that confront us today and to suggest a way forward by encouraging a dialogue between scholars, policy planners and civil society activists involved in the land issues of the common people.

An abstract of 500 words is being invited from interested participants. This abstract should foreground a problematic and provoke a discussion around the land questions outlined earlier.  A three day seminar would be held with focus on the following thematic areas:

  1. The Indian land reform agenda in the context of the contemporary neoliberal political economy of land in urban and rural areas, emerging land-agrarian relations and commodification of land in urban areas,
  2. Emerging legal and policy issues around land in Special Economic Zones/Expert Processing Zones/ Coastal Regulatory Zones,
  3. The governance challenge of the new land acquisition and rehabilitation Act, 2013 (RFCTLA&RR Act, 2013),
  4. Issues and challenges in legalising/recording tenancy,
  5. Conferring land rights on the landless, dalits/tribals, CPR users and to women
  6. Constraints and way forward in implementation of the Forest Right Act, 2006
  7. Conclusive land titling (secure property rights/records in land) in urban and rural areas,
  8. Emerging legal/policy issues governing the Commons in urban and rural areas,
  9. Emerging land questions and their legal/policy implications in the North-East and the Scheduled Areas with focus on community control and ownership versus individualisation of land holding, internal land alienation, concentration of land and impact of commercial plantation and cash crops,
  10. Emerging policy issues in sustainable land use in mining, agriculture, common property resources, reality sector and industry,
  11. Issues and the way forward in strengthening land/revenue administration as techno-managerial strategy and private sector participation in land records digitisation and management: and
  12. Emerging trends in land grabs, land conflicts, land disputes and land frauds.

A limited number of participants will be invited for the seminar. We especially encourage young scholars to apply. Those interested in participating should send an abstract (500 words maximum) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to the following Email ID:


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