Struggles over land are central to Indian politics and livelihoods today. Such struggles take many forms: struggles for land reform in rural area, resistance to urban slum demolitions and evictions, demands for land reforms, fights against displacement, struggles for forest rights and democratic forest control, movements for land rights of Dalits and adivasis, and so on. Most analyses of land issues in India have focused on questions of agricultural land and land tenure. This paper attempts to take a broader synoptic look at the multiple facets of the land question, across its various dimensions, linking questions of urban lands, rural lands, forest lands, common lands, private agricultural lands and so on. It also briefly touches upon the character of state institutions and state action in relation to land, as well as the various forms of struggle around land issues in India (with their potential and limitations).
Mr. Shankar Gopalakrishnan is a researcher and a former Junior Fellow of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. He did his B.A. from Bard College, USA and received his M.Sc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK. He has researched and written on development policy, resource politics, political economy, social movements, labour issues, communalism and so on and published articles in various journals ‘The American Anti-Globalization Movement’, Economic and Political Weekly, 2001, ‘SEZs and Neoliberalism’, Man and Development, 2008, ‘Understanding the Forest Rights Act’, Yojana, 2008 and ‘Conservation, Power and Democracy’, Seminar, 2010 to name a few.