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

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs