Missing the wood for the trees in India’s land policies: Of ‘Unscrupulous Elements’, Thugs, Fixers, Brokers and Others who People Policy as Practice

December 18, 2018
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Land is central to India’s identity, and has been at the core of our policy frameworks. Soon after independence, ideas of land to the tiller informed policy-making around land reform and land redistribution. Today, land liberalisation or opening up the land economy to market processes drives policy (Sud 2007). Market-facing policy might aim at open, transparent and fair land transitions. In practice, land transitions, say for large industry, infrastructure and urbanisation projects, continue being opaque, unjust and often coercive (Sud 2009, 2014). Apart from a business-state nexus that underlies this skewing, it is worth turning to the missing dimension in land policy, and our understanding of land transitions: the middleman, or as this paper highlights: the middlewoman. An ethnographic look at the world of shadows and margins in policy implementation sheds light on how land actually changes hands in India, and why this is very far from the vision of our policymakers.

About the Speaker

Dr. Nikita Sud is Associate Professor of Development Studies at the University of Oxford. She has studied land transitions in contemporary India for well over a decade. Her work on the regulation, liberalisation and politics of land has been published in the Journal of Peasant Studies, World Development, Modern Asian Studies, Development and Change, Geoforum, and Environment and Planning. Her book Unfixed Land: The Making of Land and The Making of India is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. In this talk she will discuss her book. She is also author of Liberalisation, Hindu Nationalism and The State: A Biography of Gujarat (OUP, 2012). She regularly writes on land, and India’s politics and political economy in national and international media.


December 18, 2018
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