Accepted Paper:

Contemporary dalit political mobilization: a case study of the Dalit land rights federation's struggle for reclamation of common grazing land  


Sundara Babu Nagappan (Vikas Adhyayan Kendra)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the dynamics involved in the Dalit political mobilizations in contemporary south India in the context of Dalit land rights struggles.

Paper long abstract:

The control over land and other natural resources has a great significance in contributing to the empowerment of the marginalized people, particularly among the historically disadvantaged communities like the Dalits, especially in the reduction of poverty, in proving food security, human dignity and social inclusion.

For more than three decades now, the question of land reforms - including implementing various lands ceiling laws effectively and redistributing the surplus land - has been more or less ignored. The government documents had even stopped referring to this issue anymore. Moreover, the Government while abandoning the welfarism for the Dalits in the context of land re-distribution has in recent years been on the drive to acquire more and more land, including those that were under the utilization of the Dalit communities, for its economic growth.

However, this also has led to a backlash from the marginalized sections. Many protests across the country against the enforced acquisition of land for Special Economic zones (SEZs) and other purposes have already began to force both the central and state (federal) governments to talk about an adequate compensation and rehabilitation policy that explicitly recognizes the rights of these marginalized sections.

Under this back-drop, this paper will explore the role particularly played by the Dalit Land Rights Federation in the context of the struggle for Dalit lands. The paper would focus on a particular case of the Dalit struggle for the reclamation of the common grazing land in Tamil Nadu taken over by the government for industrial purposes.

Panel W067
The developmental turn in Dalit activism: disquieting caste and capitalism in contemporary India