Sunday, January 24, 2010

ORF seminar on land acqusition issues related to "Mega Projects"

Observer Research Foundation (ORF) held a seminar on “Mega Project Development: Issues in Land Acquisition” on 20th Jan 2010.

The participants included top serving and retired bureaucrats, senior officers from the corporate sector and a few representatives from academia and civil society. I was invited to speak to represent a civil society viewpoint. ORF will no doubt bring out the seminar proceedings in time as per their usual practice. The following are the notes I used for my speech.

Development sans the people

Large scale development needs land and other natural resources such as water and minerals; in the current model of development, it has no use for the people living on the land. Boundaries have to be erected around the area of the development as quickly as possible after evicting the original occupants so that the work can proceed. The original occupants are not part of the development nor will they benefit from it except perhaps in some incidental way; they therefore have no stake in the project.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Food price inflation - Why is the Government helpless?

Food prices have become a major talking point for the media and the opposition parties have also just woken up to defend the aam aadmi. The Government has unveiled some short term measures to curb prices and it remains to be seen if these will be effective. The problem however is not short term in nature. A timeline of food prices of common food items shows that the rapid food price inflation dates back 2 years and even more in the case of certain items.
Several questions arise. Why have prices risen? Are farmers benefiting from the rise? And why is the government so helpless in curbing the rise?

This article in India Together attempts to find answers to these questions.

Comming a month later this article in the Hindu Business Line by C P Chandrasekhar  and Jayati Ghosh of JNU carries a similar analysis.