News / Asia

India Witnesses Growing Conflict Over Land

Multimedia

Audio
Anjana Pasricha

In India, protests by farmers about land acquisition in the country's most populated state have focused attention on the growing conflict about land, as the economy modernizes. The growing resistance by rural communities about giving up their land for industrial expansion is throwing up new challenges for India.

The violent protests in the northern state, Uttar Pradesh, earlier this month were sparked by demands by farmers for higher compensation for land taken from them to build a highway connecting New Delhi with the tourist hub, Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. Three farmers were killed in the demonstration.

The clashes are the latest in a series of protests which have erupted in many parts of the country about efforts to acquire farmland for infrastructure projects or industry.

As India industrializes, businesses are in search of more land to build factories. The government is under pressure to quickly improve rickety infrastructure and build more highways, power stations and railways to meet the needs of an expanding economy.

The only free land available is populated, fertile farm land across rural India. Moving farmers and tribal communities off the land is not always proving to be easy.  

Farmers complain

Some farmers complain that compensation given for their land is too low. And, they worry about loss of their livelihood in a country where two thirds of the billion-plus people live off the land.

Devinder Sharma of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security in New Delhi says promises of employment in the new industries do not materialize for the bulk of the farmers whose land is taken away. He says many of them are driven to an uncertain future in cities.  

He says the new economy cannot sustain the kind of employment which farming provides in a populous country.

"No industry or group of industries can provide the kind of jobs or the scale of jobs India needs," Sharma said. "In a country which has 600 million farmers including their families, I don't think any industry has the capability or even industrial sector has the capability to provide even jobs to even one-tenth of that population."

However, businesses argue that an expanding industry can provide millions of new jobs and transform India to an industrialized nation.

Hurdles

The hurdles in acquiring land are slowing down investment and industrial expansion. Mining and steel projects proposed by big companies, such as ArcelorMital, Posco, and Vedanta Resources, are in hiatus as efforts are made to resolve conflicts with local populations. Plans for new power plants, roads and special economic zones to promote trade are facing similar hurdles.

An economist at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Anjan Roy, says the issue is complex and needs answers which can address the interests of both sides. He says one of the suggestions is to make the displaced rural communities stakeholders in the new industries.

"Possibly giving them some stake, for example while putting up land for a new mine, giving them a stake in the mine, or some kind of shareholding in the industrial units which are coming up, that kind of gives a solution. One has to try out many solutions, a combination of them," said Roy.

It is widely believed that Maoist rebels – regarded as India's biggest internal security threat – are gaining influence as they tap the growing resentment in the countryside about land acquisition issues.

Reports that local officials often collude with business interests to take away land from villagers against their will has deepened such resentment.

Many food analysts also worry that handing over large chunks of farmland to industry could spark a food security crisis in a country which has a large population to feed and where spiraling food prices already pose a worry for millions of poor people.       

Government stand

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament recently that a balance will have to be struck between the demands of industry and those of rural India.

"We shall have to ensure that the farmers are not disturbed, their interests are not jeopardized, because they have to play the most positive role in respect of ensuring food security," Mukherjee said.

Indian authorities admit that there is need for new legislation to protect the interests of farmers. But two bills which have been drafted are pending before parliament. These proposed laws are meant to ensure that farmers get compensation for their land at the market price. They also address issues of rehabilitation, jobs and training for those affected.

Development analysts say that the government has little time to lose in addressing these complex issues to ensure that the transition from a country of small farmers to a modern economy is a smooth one.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid