Accepted paper:

Producing Underdevelopment: The Politics of Hunger Deaths in Odisha (India)

Authors:

Rajakishor Mahana (Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS))

Paper short abstract:

How do development interventions continue to sustain despite the fact that they tend to fail to produce intended consequences? The paper argues that development interventions justify their continuance by producing "underdevelopment" of various kinds.

Paper long abstract:

Why do "development" interventions fail to produce intended consequences? The conventional analysis overlooks a potentially more useful analysis of whether the development interventions themselves are based on false assumptions. Building on the insights of Ferguson's "anti-politics machine", the paper identifies the roots of the false assumptions as a lingering of the Weberian tradition of ideal type state. Joel Migdal's challenge to the ideal type state helps to understand the existing fragments of power brokers in a society that guide social control and political power. Based on these theories, the paper provides an adequate understanding of how development works by exploring the politics of hunger deaths in Kashipur, Odisha (India). It shows that development interventions failed to address the issue of hunger deaths in Kashipur not because there were drought in the area, lack of development interventions or failure of institutional support mechanisms but because of the power play of the local elites who controlled the food as well as apathy of the state to address the root causes of hunger deaths. By attributing hunger deaths to "drought", "food poison", or "cholera", attention has been diverted from the fact that severe food shortage is a chronic problem in Kashipur. The development interventions mostly in the form of "relief measures" have ensured disempowerment and vulnerability of the tribals and reinstated the simulation that land in Kashipur is infertile to produce enough for the tribals to sustain. Therefore, the paper argues that development interventions justify their continuance by producing "underdevelopment" of various kinds.

panel BH10
Development of the underdeveloped