Displacing farmers: India Will Have 400 million Agricultural Refugees by Devinder Sharma
It was on the cards. With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announcing the formation of a new rehabilitation policy for farmers displaced from land acquisitions, it is now official -- farmers have to quit agriculture. Ever since the Congress-led UPA Coalition assumed power after an angry rural protest vote threw out the erstwhile BJP-led NDA combination in May 2004, the Prime Minister had initiated a plethora of new policies for the spread of industrialization. After having laid the policy framework that allows private control over community resources – water, biodiversity, forests, seeds, agriculture markets, and mineral resources -- the UPA government finally looked at the possibility of divesting the poor people of their only economic security – a meagre piece of land holding.
“Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is an idea whose time has come,” the Prime Minister had said at an award ceremony in Mumbai sometimes back. Supported by all political parties, including the Left Front, he has actually officiated a nationwide campaign to displace farmers. Almost 500 special economic zones are being carved out (see The New Maharajas of India). What is however less known is that successive government’s are actually following a policy prescription that had been laid out by the World Bank as early as in 1995.
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