Displaced by Development: Confronting Marginalisation and Gender Injustice


Edited by: Lyla Mehta

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    In memory of Budhiben and her struggle for justice

    List of Tables & Figure

    • 2.1 Impact of Sudden and Gradual Displacement on Productive and Reproductive Roles and Relations 39
    • 2.2 Total Village Land and Extent of Alienation 49
    • 4.1 Mapping Impact on Children 93

    List of Boxes

    • 4.1 The Practice of Forced Evictions: Comprehensive Human Rights Guidelines on Development-based Displacement 94
    • 4.2 Ensuring Children's Participation 99
    • 4.3 How can we Prepare Children? 100
    • 8.1 Lessons from R and R Efforts 183
    • 8.2 Safeguarding Women's Interests in Resettlement 186


    Displacement is not just an issue but also a phenomenon devastating the lives of millions every year. Not just individuals but communities with very rich natural resources, cultural heritage and integrity are confronted by displacement through projects that are ‘planned’ and executed by the State. This element of knowledge and choice accepts and permits displacement with formidable consequences. That State which should care for the welfare of its population furthers its agenda of distribution or redistribution of resources without concern for displacement, which is considered as inevitable. With ‘development’ as a magic word securing maximised extraction harnessed to the expropriation of natural resources, and with consumerism and modernism as the basic paradigms proposed and imposed on the majority, the eviction of both urban and rural communities has reached an unprecedented scale. The age-old theories of sacrifice, trade-offs and trickle-down are no longer acceptable for justifying displacement. These processes are compelling the victims to challenge the plans that sacrifice human, social and cultural relations, and destroy livelihoods as well as land, water and forest resources. Irreparable loss has thus led to indomitable struggles all over.

    This volume, examining gender, displacement and development, comes out at a very critical time. In recent years, the unprecedented expansion and acceleration of displacement has come to be questioned by all who realise that as such processes cause so much human distress and destruction, they cannot be considered desirable and hence ‘developmental’. First, the exploitation and expansion take place without concern for the real investors of land and water, who are merely seen as ‘project-affected-people’. Not only is their cultural milieu bulldozed and snatched away, but the so-called environmental and social assessments rarely capture their environmental, social and cultural loss. The compensation provided does not replace their forests, rivers and livelihoods. The benefits (be they concerning employment or profit) are rarely shared equitably nor do the people ousted get the first right to and share in the benefits derived from their investment of natural resources.

    Since they have come to realise that most claims of rehabilitation and compensation are proving to be false, displaced people are now asking for a redefinition of development with parameters beyond the conventional cost-benefit analysis. At the same time, the State and market forces are employing much cruder and more callous ways of not merely justifying the speedy expropriation of resources, but also of carving out special economic and political spaces (where no law of the land applies) for corporate interests and vicious alliances with politicians. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) signify the perfect example of a State openly favouring profit over people. Displacement is just one of the major impacts of these processes, with the displaced left with no channel to fall back upon and seek justice, since the State has shed its role as a welfare provider to join private players in transferring resources. Thus, SEZs and similar neo-liberal designs must be questioned not only on social and environmental grounds, but for their long-term economic repercussions and impact on livelihoods. Justifiable questions are being raised by the struggles of the displaced, even as economists and others often lack the courage and commitment to challenge the vulgarly manipulative and repressive national and global powers. Thus, the struggles of the displaced people all over are leading to the linking of micro-issues with larger macro-concerns, just as several authors in this volume do.

    The State in India and elsewhere, however, is not in a mood to listen. In response to the fiery struggles by the people there have been increasing brutal atrocities and fictitious claims of rehabilitating or benefiting the affected. The new policies and enactments are, in reality, legitimising displacement on an unprecedented scale and at the cost of the people, especially the owners and possessors of natural resources and human power. The Land Acquisition Act of British legacy (1894) has not been abolished but is rather being misused for private interest, through a widening of the definition of ‘public interest’. Industries, with only a stated objective of employment generation, can thus be included in the public purpose category, as per the new national Indian policy statement on Rehabilitation (October 2007). The 2007 policy also provides no clarity and process directive on options assessment that can lead to plans with minimum displacement or no displacement. Rehabilitation, with livelihood compensation, has again been compromised along with market prices for resources to be acquisitioned or purchased for industries and projects. Recently, the judiciary has also started avoiding intervention on these basic issues, in spite of the acknowledged violation of fundamental rights and amidst growing alliances between bureaucrats, corporates and politicians, ranging from the local to the global. Rightist or Leftist, those in power and in electoral politics are tending to compromise on basic values due to the perks of profits and power. The Constitution, no doubt, is being upheld, though not by the rulers and the powers that be but by the common people who display uncommon strength and commitment to human rights and human-centred change.

    Thus, when the unprecedented onslaught of market forces causes uprooting and even the demise of communities, the response of the societies that face the backlash cannot be restricted to merely demanding compensation. A very strong and natural direction of the counter-attack has been developed in the appeal to the territorial rights of affected communities, who see all their natural resources as well as themselves as a unified whole that is a life support, and not an input for markets or machines. This phenomenon has been evolving over the last few decades into a comprehensive alternative development paradigm based on the due primacy of the principle of free, prior and informed consent, that is not just limited to adivasis (indigenous peoples). This has provided the only solution and hope for all the affected communities, including farmers, fish workers, artisans and small traders, who insist on their right to resources and their right to consent and dissent with respect to development proposals and projects. Such thinking has emerged directly from people's struggles as well as from people-centred theorisation and research wherein many of the contributors to this volume have played a key role. The impact of this thinking has found its way into both United Nations conventions and World Bank manuals and other reports, though much of the latter is merely rhetorical and remains on paper. However, such visions can only come true through sustained struggle and by challenging the dominant notions of ‘eminent domain’, on the one hand, and farcical forms of democratic representation on the other. Such thinking is also the basis of a new form of economics, which is an alternative to the neo-liberal paradigm.

    This book's focus on gender justice and the feminist vision provides powerful alternative ways to look at development and sustainability by highlighting equity and respect for nature, by questioning conventional notions of costs and loss, and by calling for life-supporting change to be seen as progress. Any alternative vision cannot ignore these trends and potentials, which need to be made real and carried forward through the generations. Gender issues, gender injustice and gender empowerment in both ideological conception and the execution of ‘development’ are parameters which necessitate serious public debate and popular understanding by all those who are up against the injustice done to the oustees. Gender, it must be realised, is not merely one of the criteria but a main social test, which helps us assess and define the impact of policies and programmes, besides acting as a source of vision to determine our future course of action. Our values and our responsibility to the vulnerable sections can be better reflected in development conceptions and the planning process only if we are sensitive to gender-just perspectives and are able to mobilise women's power in our battles.

    Women are at the forefront of the millions who are out on the streets and in the fields opposing displacement and realising that rehabilitation is neither a salvation nor achievable. These people include the socially and economically disadvantaged dalits (the erstwhile ‘untouchable’ castes), adivasis, farmers, fish workers and others, but there are women across all these groups. Women, whether in resource-dependent societies or on the move towards ‘modernity’, still play a major role in sustaining their families. Their social status and economic contribution (especially in the tribal-rural context, but also in the labour-intensive occupational groups such as agricultural labourers and urban construction workers) is highly dependent upon natural and human resources, and they become paralysed and peripheralised without those. Since their rights and lives are often more rooted in natural resources than in marketable commodities, they tend to respect the non-quantifiable value of resources more than men. Thus, when cash compensation is clearly rejected by groups confronted by displacement, it is usually women who lead the way in this. Men tend to accept, play and plunder when cash compensation is accepted. Time and again, I have witnessed how women in countless struggles rarely demand or accept cash compensation. They also question their menfolk when the latter accept compensation, and resort to further struggle.

    These are the themes that have been brought out and analysed in this remarkable volume. Budhiben, the adivasi woman from a family affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project in the Narmada Valley, to whom Lyla Mehta has devoted this edited volume, and what happened to her life, her natural treasures and her community, are all symbols of genderised struggle. Within her ancestral habitat in the Vindhya mountain range on the banks of the Narmada and with the river symbolising the life flowing with her, she was all alone in catching the system by its horns. She stood up against the exploitation and denudation of both humans and nature. Reckless though she was, Budhiben had to exhibit extra courage to prevent the trucks and the officials (whom she considered to be ‘thieves’) from entering her forest to strip it bare, and to expose her own community brethren who were in alliance with them. None else but the police, in the infamous state of Gujarat, representing the cumulative strength of both statutory power and patriarchy, raped her. The resultant protest by the women and men in the valley was quelled, and no forum of law and justice could grant her any solace. She is no more, but the decade-long struggle by others in her community continues. Even today, with much of their land and forest lost, the river stagnant and homes submerged, her spirit is still alive.

    Budhiben and the Budhibens all over, from Narmada to Nandigram, have borne the brunt of the battles but have not given up. In the struggle, we have witnessed that whenever women are enabled to occupy decision-making and strategising spaces, they are always marked by innovation and creativity. Still, it is true that such movements sometimes cannot offer women their due place when the challenges are deep and formidable. Movements can also fail to advance women's interests. For example, men can demand that women be used as shields to protect themselves and the agitators from the police and the brutal forces of the State. Women are also brought in to make up the numbers. But often the leaders of the movements realise that women's contributions go far beyond these aspects, and that they have something unique to contribute and their strategies work better in the present world of money and markets. This happens when men themselves change and are more sensitive to gender concerns, and begin to treat women and other subordinate groups as equals. When this happens, gender inequities, class and caste divides within society are addressed. It also leads to changes in relations within the family and changes in relationships with subordinates. This is not easy to attain but can only take place through a long and deep process of empowerment of both women and men.

    In the course of struggles, many women have argued for the need to use resources in more equitable and sustainable ways. This is what gives them the strength to raise basic and radical questions fearlessly. Often powerless and compelled to remain in the fourth corner of society, with patriarchy, power, the police and physical force dictating ways and means, women leaders are usually the ones who strike with a difference, with patience, perseverance and penetration. Women's power and the feminising strategies of a mass movement allow for the possibilities of non-violent strategies and creativity which conventional resourcefulness or power can neither evolve nor carry forward for long. For example, when the women from urban slums in Mumbai reached and blocked the gates of the Mantralaya (the administrative headquarters of Maharashtra state) or those from the Narmada Valley encircled the World Bank officials in the early 1990s, they expressed both outrage and grief with satyagraha (non-violent resistance), a medium that was strikingly different and innovative. Women have also played a major role in keeping other movements alive for decades, for example, in the workers’ movement in Chhattisgarh, in adivasi struggles in Jharkhand and in the dalit and adivasi communities’ assertion for the right to land in Kerala. Furthermore, in building self-reliant solutions, whether in the water, power or industrial sector as in Gujarat, it is often women who are at the forefront. This has always startled those in power, who at times become speechless, and are compelled to react and meet the demands of these women.

    Lyla Mehta has been a sensitive witness to many of these events and upheavals. She and the volume's contributors address the issue of displacement, gender and development with great analytical ability, sensitivity and respect for the displaced people and their movements. That is what has made her an academician-researcher raising appropriate issues at the right time. All the pieces in this volume, despite arising from people from different backgrounds, are united by two common causes, namely, to explore the impact of the gendered dimensions of displacement on the socio-politico-economic spaces of women and men, and to critique the current processes that legitimise unjust displacement. The authors also unite in highlighting how the displacement project, with its claim of rehabilitation and the inevitability of forcible eviction, is flawed.

    Only an academic close to social movements such as Lyla Mehta can bring together leading scholar-activists and contributors from people's movements to provide a trenchant critique of contemporary displacement politics, making gender visible while also presenting ideological and strategic perspectives. This book will go a long way in providing independently documented impacts of displacement, the role of the State and State policies, and also in addressing radical alternative visions.

    I hope that this book will be on the shelves of not just scholars and activists, but also of policy-makers and administrators, who need to embrace new visions of development to be able to resist displacing options. I also hope that the book will be translated into regional languages and reach out to many in local communities and small townships, beyond the libraries and universities. That would be the success of the book: to be attained by linking up with social movements.

    The remit of a work with contributions from senior analysts and activists obviously cannot merely stop at description or abstraction. It has to project future steps, help others who are seeking to attain an agenda for a world free of displacement and prepare for truly humane development, which will be in the spirit of humanity and nature. That is where this book leads us, and hence its contribution will surely go way beyond classical academic research to positive action by charting out a framework of not just legal but human justice. We look forward to this achievement.

    December 2007



    Every year the lives and livelihoods of more than ten million people across the globe are affected by forced displacement due to infrastructure projects such as dams, mines, industries, power plants and roads. Millions also leave their homes ‘voluntarily’ to seek new livelihoods or to avoid conflict and hardships in their place of birth. Most displaced people belong to poor and marginalised communities, and within them, women and children experience special vulnerabilities. It was in this context that the Institute of Development Studies, UK, and ActionAid, India, organised a workshop on ‘Engendering Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policies and Programmes in India’, held in New Delhi on 12 and 13 September 2002. It was attended by 60 participants representing a broad range of interests—ranging from displaced people, social activists and academics to those working in NGOs, donor agencies and the government. Drawing on a range of cases from many displacement contexts, the workshop participants discussed how resettlement programmes and schemes had so far been blind to social and gender justice issues and had thus often failed miserably. The workshop was rooted in the conviction that projects entailing forced displacement must be avoided as far as possible and that development models that legitimise forced displacement must be questioned. In the first instance, non-displacing alternatives must be explored. When displacement is absolutely unavoidable, resettlement schemes must actively incorporate gender and social justice concerns at every stage, from decision-making to implementation processes. The workshop also examined the political economy of displacement and resettlement processes and explored how social activism that challenges displacement can create new spaces for displaced women and men to assert their rights. For many people, it was the first concerted attempt to explore concrete links between gender, displacement and resettlement. This volume is an outcome of this process and my own research on gender and displacement.

    This volume could not have been possible without the support and hard work of many individuals who contributed with their ideas, time and enthusiasm. The project has taken on a life of its own, given the time that has elapsed between the workshop and the final publication of the book. As each contributor to the book is either an engaged researcher or activist or both, and is actively involved in ongoing social justice issues in India and elsewhere, the final versions of the chapters took a long time to see the light of day. It has been a pleasure to work with such a committed and interesting group of people, and I thank all the authors for their hard work and patience, and for tolerating my editorial interventions and the long delay. Unfortunately, not everybody who presented a paper at the workshop could write a chapter for this volume, but hopefully the following pages will capture some of the rich and stimulating discussions in Delhi.

    I am extremely grateful to Mohammed Asif then with ActionAid, Delhi, who helped co-organise the 2002 workshop. His contribution was immense, both in terms of creating an intellectually coherent programme as well as organising the logistical arrangements, along with his other ActionAid colleagues. I am also grateful to Harsh Mander, former director of ActionAid India, who agreed to co-organise the workshop and provided guidance throughout the process. I also thank Bashabi Gupta, Natasha Kandwal, Nilanjana Sengupta and Carol Yong who worked hard to ensure the overall success of the workshop.

    I am grateful to those who contributed actively at the workshop (as chairs, discussants and speakers) and later with ideas and guidance. In particular, I thank Sarah Ahmed, Vimal Bhai, Urvashi Butalia, Anita Cheria, Vasudha Dhagamwar, Alex Ekka, Jean Drèze, Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, Arjan de Haan, S.R. Hiremath, Reidar Kvam, Miloon Kothari, Smitu Kothari, S. Parasuraman, Vijay Paranjpye, Mahesh Rangarajan, N.C. Saxena, Shekhar Singh, Nandini Sundar and Shiv Visvanathan. I also thank Rewa Nayar, who was then Member-Secretary of the National Commission on Women, S. Jalaja of the National Human Rights Commission and M.S. Rana of the Ministry of Rural Development.

    I have been interested in gender and displacement issues since 1991, which is when I first went to the Narmada Valley. I am particularly grateful to those whose ideas and work have inspired me over the years. I owe a very special thanks to Alok Agrawal, Asit, Michael Cernea, Arundhati Dhuru, Pervin Jehangir, Matamai, Amit Mitra, Nandini Oza, Chittaroopa Palit, Medha Patkar, Urmila Patidar, Anand Punja, Ramkuwar and Rukmini Kaki. I also thank the countless families in the Narmada Valley who have taken me into their homes and shared their lives and stories with me, in particular from Manibeli, Gadher, Malu, Pathrad and from the Nimar area in Madhya Pradesh. I am grateful to the Department for International Development (DFID), UK, for supporting my research in 2000 and for funding the 2002 workshop. I fondly remember and thank Bina Srinivasan, Kersi Sabavala and Sanjay Sangvai for their friendship and inspiration. Their passing away (at different points in time) was far too early and a tremendous loss for displaced people's struggles for justice. In particular, Bina Srinivasan's recent death leaves a tremendous void in debates and practices concerning gender and displacement.

    I am also grateful for the support and patience from SAGE, in particular, Ashok Chandran, Rekha Natarajan, Trinankur Banerjee, Richa Raj and Meena Chakravorty. At the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, I am most grateful to Petra Bongartz, Chris Hunter and Naomi Vernon for their help. Deepa Shankaran's editorial assistance and insightful comments were crucial during the final months. I was greatly assisted by Naomi Vernon in finally putting the volume together. Many thanks! The book eventually saw the light of day during a fellowship at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Noragric at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Aas, Norway. I am grateful to my colleagues there for providing me with such an enabling and peaceful environment to make this and other work possible. I thank Morten Sjaastad for engaging with the ups and downs of the editing process and for encouraging me to work on the volume during the unforgettable summer of 2006.

    I dedicate this book to the memory of Budhiben, whose story captures how despite many disempowering experiences and victimisation, displaced women can be agents of social change.1 She was a spirited adivasi activist from a tribal village in the submergence zone of the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Project in Gujarat. I enjoyed spending time with her in 1993. Budhiben unfortunately was the target of both state-sponsored and gender-based violence and died suddenly in 1994. The fact that such a fiery and dynamic woman suffered due to both State and community prejudices is striking. I think she would agree that all displaced people, especially women, should be spared the same fate that befell her. But Budhiben was not just a victim. She played a crucial role in the protests against unjust forced evictions in the early 1990s and inspired many people. Thank you, Budhiben. May your struggle for justice be one day realised and may this book be a small step in that direction.

    November 2007


    1. I am usually against revealing the identity of women who have been the targets of gender-based violence. However, Budhiben was a public figure and in the early 1990s, her case was discussed (perhaps wrongly) by journalists, activists and officials in the press and in reports without concealing her identity.



    Displacement arising due to ‘development’ or development-induced displacement is one of the key areas of contentious politics in India today. This is largely due to the proliferation of protest activities on the part of displaced people and public actions highlighting the painful and disastrous outcomes of past displacement and resettlement experiences in India. Every year, over 500,000 people are displaced by infrastructure construction, including hydro-electric and irrigation projects, mines, industrial complexes and super-thermal and nuclear power plants (Kothari 1997: 95). Unfortunately, there is no consensus on how many people have been displaced by large projects since India's independence. The estimates range from 21 million to 50 million (see Hemadri et al. 2000).

    The critical nature of displacement issues in contemporary India rudely came to the fore in early January 2006. Twelve adivasis (indigenous peoples) affected by displacement were shot by the police in Jajpur district in Orissa in the course of a protest action. The police, under the auspices of senior district officials, had opened fire on a large group of adivasis resisting displacement and the appropriation of their lands for the construction of a steel plant by the Tata Industries. The victims included two women and a young boy. It was later discovered that the bodies of half the victims had been severely mutilated. A little over a year later in March 2007 in Nandigram in West Bengal, 18 peasants were killed by armed police while they were protesting against the acquisition of their land to form a controversial Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Despite the rising tide of opposition to development-induced displacement in recent years, never before have so many protesters been killed at point blank range in one instance (Michael Cernea, personal communication). Protests against displacement and land acquisition for SEZs have since then been on the rise all over India.

    Such incidents reveal that the issues at stake go well beyond the need to provide adequate compensation for land and just resettlement for those who are displaced to make way for development and industrial projects. Instead, the politics of displacement brings wider development paradigms into question, regarding how to balance the pains and gains of infrastructure development and how to address the disproportionate loss borne by the marginalised and the poor, especially women and children.

    The last two decades have witnessed a surge of literature on forced displacement and its far-reaching social, economic and cultural impacts (Banerjee et al. 2005; Dhagamwar et al. 2003; Drèze and Berger 1997; Fernandes and Thukral 1989; Morse and Berger 1992; Parasuraman 1999; Scudder 2005; Thukral 1992). The writings of several scholars and activists (some of whom have contributed to this volume) have highlighted the processes of impoverishment that accompany displacement and resettlement (Cernea 1997, 1998 and 2000; Mathur and Marsden 1998), the scale of the problem (Fernandes 2001) and the legal, socio-economic and political implications (Kothari 1996; Palit 2004, Ramanathan 2006a and 2006b). This volume builds on and adds to these debates and is a significant contribution on the part of leading researchers, activists and commentators to address the issue of how social and gender justice must not be compromised in the course of displacement and resettlement. The volume, thus, has two overarching aims.

    First, this volume is the first significant attempt to apply gender analysis to development-induced displacement and resettlement in the Indian context, if not the world. It highlights the need to focus specifically on how processes of displacement and resettlement affect social groups differently with regard to axes such as gender, class, caste and tribe. It is now well known that displacement tends to affect disenfranchised groups the most that are deemed dispensable and amongst them women and children suffer disproportionately. It argues that without differentiated analyses and programmes, the processes of resettlement and displacement will continue to be executed in ways that serve to intensify and perpetuate gender and social injustice.

    Second, it seeks to draw attention to the injustices perpetrated in the course of development-induced displacement and resettlement, which persist as burning issues in twenty-first century India, where economic and industrial development have reached new heights. The authors argue that without radically re-imagining the practices of development that cause displacement, there will be no end to the contentious politics accompanying displacement processes and the marginalisation and impoverishment of vulnerable social groups (for example, adivasis, the urban and rural poor, and lower castes). This means putting the interests of displaced women and men upfront, instead of seeing them as non-citizens or ‘dispensable citizens’ (Ramanathan 2006b) stripped of their basic rights. I now turn to these issues in detail.

    Locating Gender

    This volume is a significant first attempt on the part of many scholars and activists to examine the resettlement and displacement debate from a gender lens. The approaches deployed by the authors range from long-term fieldwork and research, to first-hand experiences and drawing on secondary data. But all the chapters reflect a common desire amongst the authors to engage with gender—as researchers, activists and stakeholders in displacement debates—because it can no longer be ignored. Gender is increasingly recognised as a powerful construct that determines the social, cultural and economic relations and exchanges between women and men in different arenas, from the household and the community, to the State and multilateral agencies (Jackson and Pearson 1998). Gender is central to how societies divide roles, responsibilities, resources and rights between women and men. Allocation, distribution, utilisation and control of resources are thus incumbent upon gender relations, which are embedded in both ideology and practice.

    Gender is not a static concept. It differs across cultural, geographical and historical contexts and intersects with other identities and axes of difference such as age, class, tribe and ethnicity. Although gender biases exist in many parts of the world to the disadvantage of women, one cannot assume homogeneity amongst women. What is more, gender analyses do not merely focus on women but also explore the ways in which men and women interact with each other, and the gendered nature of their roles, relations and control over resources.

    Women and children constitute the overwhelming majority of internally displaced people (Banerjee et al. 2005: 20). Moreover, female-headed households are high amongst displaced people. Still, as the authors in this volume argue, despite the vast documentation on displacement and resettlement processes, national and international debates have remained largely ungendered. Project-affected communities continue to be portrayed in a rather homogenous and undifferentiated way in local and state discourses. The massive changes in the division of labour, in negotiations within communities and households, in property rights and in access to and control over resources, clearly affect men and women differently, requiring an analysis through the lens of gender. The malaise of gender-blindness is also found in policy-related guidelines concerning resettlement, wherein the settler or oustee is unproblematically assumed to be male. Due to these biases, even when women have existing rights, they are denied compensation and often face a decline in their social status. For example, in the Sardar Sarovar Narmada project, women with patta (land titles) are excluded from land for land compensation (Palit, workshop presentation). This often occurs because women and children are not considered to be subjects in their own right. This is due in part to discriminatory gender practices and biases that are prevalent across South Asia. This is also reflected in official policy debates on resettlement that further reduce women's status to that of second-class citizens.

    Just as policy debates on displacement have been ungendered, so too have academic debates. Beyond the general recognition that women might suffer more than men in the course of the displacement process, systematic analyses of the gendered dimensions of forced displacement and resettlement processes are rare. A few studies have advanced our understanding of gender and forced displacement (for example, Colson 1999; Dewan 2008; Koenig 1995; Mehta 2000; Mehta and Srinivasan 2000; Parasuraman 1993; Srinivasan 1997). But in the standard works on displacement and resettlement, references to gender have a rather add-on character (for example, Cernea 1997; McDowell 1997). This is also true of progressive scholarship on resettlement policy and practice from researchers such as Michael Cernea (various years). He has documented the impoverishment processes accompanying resettlement by developing the widely applied and influential Impoverishment Risk and Reconstruction (IRR) model. Still, systematic gender analysis and a focus on displacement politics would both critique and add to these understandings of impoverishment by highlighting the wider historical and cultural processes of marginalisation and the dynamic nature of social and gender relations and their differentiated impacts on risks (see Chapters 1 and 2 by Mehta and Mitra and Rao, respectively, in this volume).

    Thus, this volume seeks to overcome the past invisibility of gender issues as well as to raise awareness of how gender and social justice can be achieved in displacement and resettlement processes. In this context, the debate on displacement and resettlement needs to be located in wider debates of gender, social and power relations, rights, inheritance and socio-historical processes concerning ideology, patriarchal domination, discrimination and the division of labour. Unfortunately, when women and children are the focus of official policies and interventions, they are often ‘naturalised’ as passive or ‘infantilised’ (Manchanda 2004) and not endowed with agency. In reality, women have often been at the forefront of movements to overcome the injustices of forced displacement. Critical in this volume, then, is the analysis of how women can overcome both discriminatory practices and victimisation to be recognised as agents of social change (see part three of the volume). In the process, they undergo self-transformation (see Chapter 12 by Ramkuvar in this volume), and also challenge and resist social and gender injustice. Thus, displacement and resettlement need to be seen as processes that re-order social and gender relations. In some contexts, positive transformation can take place. But this is largely due to the agency of displaced women and men and not through planned resettlement processes.

    The gender lens also helps challenge the conventional logic of displacement by presenting alternative notions of accounting, budgeting, loss, resources and development planning. Feminist analyses have helped unpack the ‘taken-for-granted’ in conventional social and economic analyses in development processes (for example, Agarwal 1996; Elson 1997, 1998; Kabeer 1994). They have raised questions about who benefits and loses from development interventions, and how to unpack aggregate notions of the ‘common good.’ They have also offered alternative perspectives on cost-benefit analyses, well-being and welfare. As conventional understandings of these issues have largely ignored the differential impacts of development processes on men, women and children, or between the rich and poor, powerful and powerless, they also neglect the fact that the beneficiaries of projects have tended to be men. Gender scholars, in contrast, have long been concerned with issues of equity and distribution. Their primary concern has been to understand the root causes of gender gaps in the allocation of the benefits and costs of development and in the distribution of resources.

    Gender analysts also point to how the costs of so-called projects are borne differently by women and men. As several studies have elaborated, vulnerable communities like women and children tend to be impacted by displacement in ways that require an evaluation that goes beyond the monetary loss of land (Colson 1999; Parasuraman 1993 and 1999; Srinivasan 1997; Thukral 1996). Additionally, in an already unequal context, disparities tend to get further exacerbated (Thukral 1996).

    Gender scholars have also challenged the equation of development with economic growth. They have asserted that the drive towards growth should not detract from attempts at redistribution to meet the basic requirements of all (Kabeer 1994: 75). Growth or development that proceeds in an unequal way cannot lead to social and economic justice for all women and men. For development to achieve equity goals, it must entail a process of redistribution whereby the costs and benefits are borne equally by men and women and by powerful and powerless groups. Such logic is also common amongst displacement scholars (especially from the ‘movementist’ rather than the ‘managerialist’ tradition (see Dwidevi 2002), who question the principles that justify displacement, rather than accept it as a necessary evil. This volume demonstrates that applying a gender lens to the issue of displacement is also useful in investigating power relations along various axes of difference, from the marginalisation of adivasis, to class dynamics and the brutalities endured by minorities.

    Displacement Politics in Twenty-First Century India

    As the Orissa and Nandigram incidents highlight, the displacement involved in large infrastructure projects remains an unresolved issue within ‘development.’ Post-colonial development policy and planning have largely followed the utilitarian and Benthamnian logic of ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’ (Rayner 2003). This has allowed for millions to be displaced in the interest of the ‘common good’ (Roy 1999). In the 1950s, industrial and infrastructure projects were considered to be the path to development and projects such as large dams generating water and power were supposed to help India ‘catch up with the West’ and promote modernity. It was unquestioned then that such mega projects would require the displacement of large population numbers. Forced uprooting was considered to be the ‘cost’ of development due to the overarching national interest. As James Scott (1998) notes, this high modernism and technical progress often leads to hegemonic planning that has excluded diverse perspectives and alternative paths to development as well as the agency of local people. Thus, not surprisingly, resettlement schemes have led to impoverishment (Cernea various years) and immiseration not only due to their top-down style of decision-making and the suppression of the ousted, but also due to the inability of resettlement schemes to rebuild lives and livelihoods. They have also often led to a decline in the standard of living of the displaced as several chapters in this volume demonstrate. While relocation and resettlement are largely physical and economic initiatives, rehabilitation is more protracted and difficult, as it involves restoring a community's and individual's livelihood, income, dignity, well-being and the capacity to interact in the new environment as an equal (Asif 2000). But as extensive research in the Indian context has documented, less than 25 per cent have been properly resettled and rehabilitation rarely takes place (ibid.). Furthermore, many of the purported benefits of this high modernism have been exaggerated (see Mehta 2005; Morse and Berger 1992; WCD 2000).

    Instead, resettlement planning has been a quasi-social engineering exercise wherein oustees are often subject to control from project and health officials, and have had little or no say in site selection or questions centring around land, grazing, water provision and so on (see Asif 2000; Fernandes and Thukral 1989; Mehta and Punja 2006). They often lack the ability to participate as equal actors in compensation procedures, in determining solutions to the problems of resettlement, in protecting their human rights and in shaping development processes. Moreover, conventional resettlement planning does not question, per se, the rationale behind resettlement or indeed raise fundamental issues concerning pro-poor development and governance. Instead, as Morvaridi argues, ‘The bureaucratic system within which displacement is managed and the legislative definitions and practices that it adopts tend to work against local people and deny them rights to protect their economic and social well-being’ (Morvaridi 2004: 720).

    In principle, a pro-poor national and international policy and legal environment could help create resettlement and rehabilitation (R and R) policies that, firstly, seek to minimise displacement drastically and, secondly, put the interests and rights of displaced people upfront. Unfortunately, despite many civil society attempts since the late 1980s, the national R and R policy has been in ‘draft’ form for many years. Progressive and pro-poor provisions, emerging through processes of massive consultation, have instead systematically been diluted and subverted. As Medha Patkar writes in the foreword (this volume), the latest version of 2007 provides no clarity and process directive on options assessment that can lead to plans with minimum displacement or no displacement. Indeed, the policy process is moulded by power relations at all stages (that is, from formulation to implementation). Thus, in practice, policies can be ‘framed’ in certain ways, often to serve powerful interests and to obfuscate complexities. For example, the notion of ‘public purpose’ that legitimises land acquisition in India has its roots in the colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1894, which fails to explain a central question: who constitutes the ‘public’? This volume demonstrates that the current state of resettlement practice rarely serves the ‘public’. Instead, the interests of those keen to acquire land, namely the State and a rapidly growing private sector, are largely served. Instead, as Palit notes, policies often facilitate the large-scale transfer of land to corporate bodies and private companies and seem to have been formulated to satisfy the conditionalities of multilateral agencies such as the World Bank (Palit 2004, see also Sahaee 2003). Thus problems with resettlement are often in-built into the policy process due to flawed conceptualisations and biases.

    Moreover, the history of forced evictions in India and ongoing resettlement practices suggest that it is somewhat naïve to rely on the goodwill of the national and state governments and resettlement officials to act in the interests of the oustees. This takes place due to several reasons. Firstly, there persists a massive gap between resettlement policy and actual practice. For example, almost every year during the monsoon in the Narmada Valley, thousands of families awaiting adequate resettlement, often face the torrential rains, which lead to massive submergence and the destruction of homes, agricultural lands and property. The submergence of tribal land and property is a violation of both international and national best practice in resettlement and rehabilitation, which enjoins that displaced people must be resettled and rehabilitated six months prior to submergence.1 Secondly, policies are bent or ignored to serve the interests of the powerful. In the course of my research on displacement in the context of the Sardar Sarovar and Maheshwar dams, I found that states such as Madhya Pradesh are openly disregarding the land-for-land policy and are instead inducing oustees to move by providing cash compensation. In part, this is because there are tremendous logistical issues involved in acquiring and offering good quality land to oustees. But it is also due to the growing corporate involvement in land acquisition for infrastructure projects. In this context, what has emerged is a shrinking or conniving State and an expanding private sector that is difficult to hold to account. Finally, the government also wilfully neglects the interests of certain groups due to prejudice and bias (for example during the unprecedented communal violence of 2002 in Gujarat—a state that has witnessed tremendous internal displacement in recent years due to the Sardar Sarovar dam and the Kutch earthquake—government officials either openly ignored or even encouraged genocidal acts against the minority Muslim community whose members witnessed massive displacement. In these attacks, women were specifically targeted, with the police often assisting the attackers (see Chapter 7 by Mander in this volume).

    Finally, as the Orissa shooting highlights, official discourses on displacement and resettlement situate oustees not as citizens with rights but as obstacles in the path of development. Their displacement is legalised and endorsed by the State, and often their protest is considered to be ‘illegal’ (Ramanathan 2006a). In recent years, state agencies and the judiciary have played a key role in undermining constitutional provisions around basic rights to housing, livelihood and participation. Instead, a new legal climate has emerged in which displaced people are cast as ‘encroachers’ on ‘public’ land (Ramanathan 2006a: 3193). This is particularly true for displacement in the urban context (ibid. and Chapter 3 by Baviskar in this volume). By pitting the right of the nation to development against the rights of locals not to be displaced, displacement discourse and practice legitimise the creation of ‘dispensable citizens’ (Ramanathan 2006b). Their agency and ability to participate in development processes are denied. Instead, the focus should be on the fundamental rights of the displaced as human beings, citizens and members of the ‘public.’ These rights must include the right to information, housing, livelihoods, development and even the right to veto such projects. Moreover, they need to be endowed with decision-making powers to participate in processes that are reshaping their lives and livelihoods.

    This volume challenges the notion that displaced people should be forced to make sacrifices for the ‘public’ purpose. While past research and thinking had largely focused on the impacts and impoverishment risks of displacement, most of the chapters in this volume raise questions regarding the rights of displaced women, children and men. But if the rights of displaced people are to have teeth, institutions must be evolved to protect and entrench these rights. This is all the more important in a context wherein state institutions have the power to declare the lives, livelihoods and struggles of poor people as ‘illegal.’

    Wider Concerns

    Several authors contributing to this volume focus on the changing dynamics of displacement and development in a globalising world. They move beyond the highly studied process of dam-based displacement to understand a range of displacement contexts, including urban displacement, mining displacement and wider processes of alienation from land and common property resources.

    This volume also questions the boundaries between what constitutes ‘voluntary’ and ‘involuntary’ displacement. These categories are increasingly blurred in a globalising world, wherein the processes of forced displacement and migration are accelerated. In the context of growing inequality, what is understood as the voluntary displacement of ‘economic migrants’ must be re-examined (see Chapters 2 and 3 by Mitra and Rao, and Baviskar, respectively, in this volume). Similarly, it must be acknowledged that the ‘involuntary’ nature of forced displacement can be reversed if resettlement processes are designed with respect for the rights of communities to decide for themselves whether or not to move.2 This kind of ‘voluntary’ displacement based on prior and informed consent would need to be premised on a transparent decision-making and policy environment, one in which those who have long borne the costs of development would at last be able to emerge as beneficiaries. Such a vision reflects the conclusions of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), a multi-stakeholder process that lasted two years (WCD 2000). Among its recommendations, the Commission proposed a ‘rights and risks’ approach (which recognises rights and assesses risks—in particular rights at risk) to be used as a tool for decision-making. Unlike conventional balance sheet approaches, it seeks to give voice to those who face the greatest risk and whose rights and entitlements are most compromised in the displacement process.3 With this in mind, the WCD seeks to abandon involuntary resettlement in favour of voluntary resettlement through mutually agreed upon and legally enforceable mitigation and development provisions. If countries and agencies were to accept the WCD guidelines, they would need to radically rethink the way in which resettlement programmes are planned and executed, making it virtually impossible to pursue current programmes that are largely divorced from the needs, rights and aspirations of displaced people and oustees. It remains to be seen whether this is possible in the Indian context, where tremendous power differentials exist between displaced people and the directors of development. Sadly, in recent years, not only has there been a growing collusion between the State and private sector agents in facilitating displacement processes, but the judiciary too has been highly arbitrary in its decision making on these issues. It is thus not surprising that India, along with Turkey and China, was one of the few countries to openly reject the WCD recommendations.

    Part One of this volume examines a range of contexts within which displacement takes place and locates gender within these. Chapter 1 by Lyla Mehta draws on long-term research in the Narmada Valley to demonstrate how displaced women are often caught in a double bind. This is due to male biases in Indian society that both help perpetuate gender inequality and also legitimise the silencing of women's interests within state institutions, structures and policies. The chapter also systematically conducts a gender analysis of the widely applied Impoverishment Risks and Reconstruction (IRR) model of sociologist Micheal Cernea. Chapter 2 by Amit Mitra and Nitya Rao, also based on extensive fieldwork, explores the gendered implications of different types of displacement of the Santals, a scheduled tribe (ST) in Dumka district in Jharkhand. These include land alienation processes in historical perspective, displacement due to dam construction and more recently, due to so-called processes of voluntary migration. The chapter's contribution is to highlight how large-scale and sudden displacement must be viewed in conjunction with more gradual processes of dislocation due to both partial submergence and pressures on land and livelihoods. The tension between ‘voluntary’ and ‘involuntary’ displacement is further developed in Chapter 3 by Amita Baviskar, which draws on fieldwork to examine the dynamics of gender, class and place amongst migrants in Delhi, a city where nearly three to four million poor people have been displaced, not just once but several times due to the middle class environmentalist concern for clean air and greenery. There is little social concern or mobilisation on the part of civil society against such expansive displacement. Unlike tribal people in forests, slum-dwellers do not evoke public sympathy and lack the right to question their own displacement. Urban displacement is thus often cloaked in notions of illegality.

    Chapter 4 by Enakshi Ganguly Thukral turns to the critical and much-neglected issue of displacement and children. Children, in particular, suffer due to the adverse impacts of displacement and resettlement on health and education. For example, children who previously gained their nutrition from forest produce are deprived of this source once their families are displaced, which results in increased morbidity and mortality, particularly in tribal communities. It is important to include children's rights in the general discourse on displacement not only because of their position as victims, but also because of their role in struggles against displacement (see Chapter 13 by Palit, in this volume). Chapter 5 by Walter Fernandes discusses alienation from common property resources (CPRs) due to displacement. CPRs are not only material assets but also constitute the livelihood of subaltern groups such as tribals, dalits and fisherfolk. Displacement involves a change from community ownership to individual ownership, which has tended to undermine the socio-economic position of women. Moreover, gender biases in resettlement and rehabilitation programmes deny women jobs in the new projects.

    Part Two of the volume turns to the role (and culpability) of the State and other agencies such as the World Bank in legitimising displacement processes and injustices and the often flawed nature of resettlement planning and policies. In Chapter 6, Usha Ramanathan critically examines, in historical perspective, the notion of ‘eminent domain’ and the power that it bestows on the State to exercise control over and acquire land within its territory in the name of ‘public purpose’. Even though its emergence and endorsement was assisted by the jurisprudence that had developed around the colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1894, it has not been tamed by constitutionalism or by altered notions of the relationship between citizens and the State. Instead, those without access to land and rights over land (especially women and the landless), are pushed to the margins of the State's concerns because of the limited mandate imposed on the State by the eminent domain doctrine.

    Chapter 7 by Harsh Mander looks at the complicity and active abetment by the state government of Gujarat in the carnage of 2002, which led to the internal displacement of about 2,50,000 people. This chapter discusses how, for the first time in independent India, the government, as a matter of policy, refused to provide relief and rehabilitation to groups from the minority community. In Gujarat, as in other conflict situations, women emerge as the allegorical and physical marker of a social group, and not surprisingly, the mass rapes of women in Gujarat disenfranchised not only women but also the entire minority community. This chapter is the only one in the volume that does not focus on development-induced displacement. Still, its conclusions on the complicity of the State, the subversion of rehabilitation measures and the neglect of basic citizenship rights of certain groups are relevant for development-induced displacement in Gujarat, the rates of which are very high, not least due to the Narmada Project.

    Chapter 8 by Hari Mohan Mathur focuses on gender issues in resettlement planning by drawing on examples from different projects and states across India. It points to the lack of gender-related data and gender-sensitive officials in planning and implementation, which deepen gender biases, and suggests that a process of continuous monitoring and evaluation could promote gender sensitivity in resettlement planning and implementation. The chapter focuses on the attempts by donor agencies such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank to integrate gender concerns into their respective resettlement programmes, which include gender specialists and gender checklists.

    In Chapter 9, Dana Clark focuses on revisions to the World Bank's Resettlement policy. Largely, there is a lacuna between the Bank's policies and practices due to the pervasive tension between the Bank and its borrowers over the implementation of both resettlement policies, and environmental and social safeguards. The Bank also tends to pass the buck to the borrowers even though in the case of the Narmada and Singrauli projects, the Bank initially approved of faulty designs. The revisions to the policies have introduced new language that waters down some of the earlier strengths of the policy. This includes the focus on restoration versus the improvement of standard of living and new language that limits the Bank's responsibility for the indirect impacts of development projects. Moreover, the word ‘gender’ does not appear anywhere in the policy. In the policy revision process, the World Bank took no proactive steps to address gender issues or to try to improve the status or rights of women in the context of displacement. This amounts to reducing rather than increasing attention to women's interests in the context of displacement.

    Chapter 10 by Deepa Shankaran offers an analysis of the gender dimensions of Orissa state policy on R and R, focusing on the key issues relevant to the burgeoning mining industry in Orissa and its impact on adivasi women. Examining the extension of R and R benefits, the loss of CPRs, and the representation of the affected people on project committees, it returns to the premise that national and state-wide protests against displacement are rooted not merely in a conflict over adequate compensation, but in a struggle for the recognition of basic human and civil rights. A policy with promise in this regard must accept this premise and begin by advancing the rights of the most vulnerable groups, including women, to participate as equal stakeholders in development and displacement debates.

    This volume does not see displaced people as merely victims. Instead, in Part Three, it focuses on how displaced women and men as ‘social agents’ are actively bringing about social and political change. All three chapters in this section are written by grassroot activists, who are public figures and have dedicated their lives to fighting for social justice. In Chapter 11, Ravi Rebbapragada and Bhanumathi Kalluri draw attention to the struggle of tribal communities and civil society organisations against mine displacement in Andhra Pradesh that eventually led to the pronouncement of the Samatha Judgement. The historic judgement mandated that tribal lands in scheduled areas cannot be leased out to non-tribals for mineral exploitation. This was a major victory for the tribal people in their struggle against forced displacement as it made it impossible for the State to lease out land to mining corporations. In Chapter 12, Ramkuwar, a young displaced woman from Khedi village in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, narrates how her village today lies submerged under the reservoir of the Man dam. She and other young women have fought valiantly against police repression. Despite promises from the Chief Minister, a police contingent of 500 men and only 3 women came to their village in 2002 and forced them to leave their land. Many women were physically assaulted. Still, young girls continue to fight for their rights and draw inspiration from the examples set by women in other displacement situations. Ramkuwar's story is a moving testimony of personal transformation and growth emerging through struggle. She vividly describes how participating in the movement has made her a stronger person, aware of her rights and how her struggle for social justice addresses issues that now go well beyond her own experiences of displacement. In Chapter 13, Chittaroopa Palit (Silvy) from the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) discusses women's role in struggles against displacement. Changes are gradually taking place, not least due to the ‘imagination’ of displaced women to anticipate, perhaps more than men, the adverse impacts of displacement. Today, more than ever before, women are actively engaged in struggles resisting displacement. Since it is often more difficult to mobilise women, only by creating gendered spaces within people's struggles will it be possible to strengthen such movements and facilitate the shift from issue-based struggles to those that address emancipatory gender politics.

    Despite these dynamic struggles, there remain many constraints to actualising the rights of displaced women and men, and many challenges remain for future research and practice. As the contributions in this volume highlight, there is an urgent need to focus on why marginalisation and gendered exclusion is permitted in the name of development, instead of allowing for inclusive development and the full citizenship of displaced women and men (wherein their civil and political rights as well as social and economic rights can flourish). Thus, several people's struggles and concerned academics are highlighting the need to rethink both ‘development’ and gender, and this volume seeks to contribute to these growing calls. Indeed, as several authors argue, there is a growing imperative to challenge and reject dominant practices and models of state-sponsored displacement. This is already happening all over India and beyond, and may a thousand flowers bloom…


    1. For example, the basic provision of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA) is that the affected people should be resettled and rehabilitated with land at fully developed ‘rehabilitation villages’ with all amenities, six months before submergence is likely.

    2. This was presented by Jean Drèze in the course of his discussant's commentary at the 2002 workshop.

    3. There has now been an attempt to operationalise this approach and to link risks and rights with responsibilities (see Bird, et al. 2005).

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  • About the Editor and Contributors

    The Editor

    Lyla Mehta is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Susex and has also been a visiting fellow at the Department of International Environment and Development (Noragric), Norwegian University of Life Sciences. She is a sociologist and her work has focussed on the gendered dimensions of forced displacement and resistance, rights and forced migration and the politics of water. Since 1991, she has conducted research on displacement and resistance in India's Narmada Valley. She has engaged in advisory work on issues concerning displacement, gender, dams and development with various UN agencies and the World Commission on Dams and has also been active in advocacy and activist work on these issues with NGOs and social movements in Europe and India. She has recently co-convened a programme of research on the rights of forced migrants and their interface with policy frameworks for the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty at Sussex University. She has authored The Politics and Poetics of Water: Naturalising Scarcity in Western India (Orient Longman, 2005), edited The Limits to Scarcity (Earthscan) and co-edited Forced Displacement: Why Rights Matter (Palgrave).

    The Contributors

    Amita Baviskar is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Her research focuses on the cultural politics of environment and development. Her first book, In the Belly of the River: Tribal Conflicts over Development in the Narmada Valley (Oxford University Press) discussed the struggle for survival by adivasis in central India against a large dam. Her subsequent work further explores the themes of resource rights, subaltern resistance and cultural identity. She has edited Waterlines: The Penguin Book of River Writings (Penguin India, 2003) and Waterscapes: The Cultural Politics of a Natural Resource (Permanent Black, 2007). She is currently writing about bourgeois environmentalism and spatial restructuring in the context of economic liberalisation in Delhi. She has taught at the University of Delhi, and has been a visiting professor at Stanford, Cornell and the University of California at Berkeley. She is co-editor of the journal, Contributions to Indian Sociology. She was awarded the 2005 Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for distinguished contributions to development studies.

    Dana Clark is currently Corporate Accountability Director for the Global Finance Campaign at Rainforest Action Network. She is also the President of the International Accountability Project (IAP), which she founded in 2003. Her work has largely focused on the intersection of environmental and social justice concerns. With the IAP, and previously at the Center for International Environmental Law, she has prioritised issues of development-induced displacement, improving citizen-based accountability mechanisms at international financial institutions, advocating for justice and remedial measures for communities whose rights are violated in the context of international development projects, and working for systemic reform. Ms Clark has written about international financial institutions, accountability, and development-induced displacement. She is a co-author and co-editor of Demanding Accountability: Civil Society Claims and the World Bank Inspection Panel (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). Articles written by her include ‘The World Bank and Human Rights: The Need for Greater Accountability.’ Harvard Human Rights Journal 15. Spring (2002): 205–26.

    Walter Fernandes was formerly Director, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi and Editor, Social Action. At present he is Director, North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati, Assam, India. He has done extensive research on forests and tribal economy and on development-induced displacement in India, with focus on tribal, livelihood and gender issues. He has more than 30 books, 125 professional articles and 60 newspaper articles to his credit.

    Enakshi Ganguly Thukral has, in the last 22 years, been involved in research, advocacy and training on wide-ranging socio-legal issues such as development-induced-displacement, issues concerning women and children, including women in the unorganised sector, legal rights, reproductive health, child labour, laws and policies governing children, education and violence. She has written extensively on issues related to development-related displacement, women and displacement, women's right to adequate housing, children and displacement and so on. She has authored numerous reports and publications, and contributed to magazines, newspapers, journals and edited volumes which include Development, Displacement and Rehabilitation (co-edited, Indian Social Institute), Big Dams Displaced People: Rivers of Sorrow Rivers of Change (edited, SAGE, 1992). She has been the Deputy Director of the Delhi-based Multiple Action Research Group and Executive Director of Mobile Crèches-India. She is the Founder and Co-Director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, New Delhi where she currently works.

    Bhanumathi Kalluri is currently heading Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children in Samata, a social justice voluntary organisation in India, which fights for the rights of tribal communities and the environment in the Eastern Ghats region. She has worked for almost two decades with adivasi communities in Andhra Pradesh. She also coordinates the International Women and Mining Network for the rights of indigenous women and women workers affected by mining. She has experience both at grass-roots mobilisation as well as advocacy at the national and international level.

    Harsh Mander is a social worker and writer. He has worked in the Indian Administrative Service in the predominantly tribal states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for almost two decades, mainly as the head of district governments of tribal districts. He is associated with social causes and movements, such as, for communal harmony, tribal, dalit, and disability rights, the right to information, custodial justice, homeless people and bonded labour. He writes and speaks regularly on issues of social justice. His books include Unheard Voices: Stories of Forgotten Lives (Penguin India, 2002), Cry, My Beloved Country: Reflections on the Gujarat Carnage 2002 and its Aftermath (Manohar, 2004) and The Ripped Chest: Public Policy and Poor in India (Books for Change, 2004). He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award for peace work and the M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award 2002. He worked as Country Director of a development support organisation, ActionAid India from September 1999–March 2004. He is at present convenor of Aman Biradari, a people's campaign for secularism, peace and justice, working for Nyayagrah, for legal justice and reconciliation for the survivors of the Gujarat 2002 carnage, and Dil Se, for the rights of homeless children, youth and women. He is also a Special Commissioner advising the Supreme Court on the Right to Food case on hunger and state responsibility, Honorary Director of the Centre for Equity Studies (working on public policy for the poor) and writes a column for Hindustan Times.

    Hari Mohan Mathur is Visiting Professor, Council for Social Development, New Delhi. He has worked in senior governmental positions as well as for several UN and international organisations, including ADB, FAO, UNDP, UNDTCD, UNESCAP, UNSECO, and the World Bank. Dr Mathur has also served as Vice Chancellor of the University of Rajasthan. A founding member of the International Network on Displacement and Resettlement (INDR), he publishes Resettlement News, twice a year in January and July (http://www.displacment.net). He has been an editor of The Eastern Anthropologist, and was awarded the Professor D.N. Majumdar Memorial Medal 2005, in recognition of his commitment to promoting developmental uses for anthropology. He has authored and edited several books on development and resettlement issues which include Administering Development in the Third World (Sage 1986), Managing Projects that Involve Resettlement: Case Studies from Rajasthan, India (World Bank, 1997), Development Projects and Impoverishment Risks: Resettling Project-Affected People in India (co-edited with David Marsden, Oxford University Press 1998), Managing Resettlement in India: Approaches, Issues and Experiences (Oxford University Press 2006), Can Compensation Prevent Impoverishment: Reforming Resettlement through Investments and Benefit-Sharing (co-edited with Michael Cernea, Oxford University Press, 2008) and edited India: Social Development Report 2008 (Theme: Development and Displacement) (Oxford University Press).

    Amit Mitra is an independent researcher based in New Delhi. He has three decades of experience in various issues relating to development, especially of indigenous people and gender. Displacement and marginalisation due to development trajectories are the prime concerns of his work. He has been on the faculty of the Centre for Social Studies, Surat and was also Associate Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi.

    Chittaroopa Palit has a Bachelor's in Economics and a Master's in Political Science from Delhi University. She also has a Master's in Rural Development from the Institute of Rural Management in Anand. She worked in a women's group in Jabalpur from 1986–88. In 1988 she became an activist with the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath, an organisation of tribal peasants working for economic, political and cultural rights and the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement). After working for many years with tribal people and their struggles against the Sardar Sarovar Project, she along with other activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan led grassroots struggles against many dams in Madhya Pradesh, including Maheshwar, Man, Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar. In her 20 years of activism with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, she has contributed to public debates on displacement, gender, development, corporate power and tribal people. In 1999, she fasted for 21 days in Bhopal to draw attention to the socio-cultural and environmental impacts of the Maheshwar dam. Again in 2002, she and her colleagues fasted for 29 days in protest against the unfair compensation packages awarded to Man dam oustees. In 2007, her fast in the context of the struggle against the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar projects continued for 37 days.

    Nitya Rao teaches Gender and Development at the School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, UK. She has worked extensively in the field of women's organisation, livelihoods and literacy for over two decades, as a practitioner, trainer, researcher and policy advocate. Her current research interests include gendered changes in land and agrarian relations, food security and livelihood strategies, equity issues in education policies, gendered access and mobility and social relations within people's movements. She has published in several international and national journals.

    Ravi Rebbapragada has been working for over two decades with adivasi communities in the Eastern Ghats. Founder and Executive Director of the social justice organisation, Samata, Ravi Rebbapragada has vast experience in working for adivasi struggles in Andhra Pradesh, for protection of their constitutional and customary land and resource rights. He has fought several legal cases on behalf of the adivasi people of which the most landmark case is the Samatha Judgement. He is Chairperson of the national alliance Mines, Minerals & People and works with several national and international level advocacy organisations.

    Usha Ramanathan is Member, Advisory Council for India and an internationally recognised expert on law and poverty. She studied law at Madras University, the University of Nagpur and has a Ph.D. from Delhi University. She is a research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, teaches environmental law, labour law and consumer law at the Indian Law Institute and conducts training programmes at the National Institute for Programmes and Policies on Child Development in New Delhi. She is a frequent adviser to non-governmental organisations and international organisations.

    She researches, writes and speaks on the jurisprudence of law, poverty and rights. Her work ranges through issues of displacement, demolition, labour, crime and punishment, the judicial process, risk and harm, industrial disasters including the Bhopal Gas Disaster, women in their encounters with law and state institutions. Her publications include a report she produced after a year-long exploration in 10 Indian states, entitled Human Rights in India: A Mapping (2001). She is currently working on a co-authored volume of essays on Law, Poverty and Development.

    Ramkuwar is a tribal activist working in Madhya Pradesh. She was born in the village Khedi-Balwadi, one of the first villages to be affected by submergence and displacement in the Narmada Valley. She has been a fulltime activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan since 2002. In 2002 she fasted for 29 days to draw attention to the situation of the displaced people of the Man dam. In 2006, she stood in the rising waters of the Narmada in Junapani village for seven days to highlight the injustices of the Indira Sagar dam. In 2007, she again faced the rising waters of the Omkareshwar dam for 10 days in the village of Gunjari.

    Deepa Shankaran is a writer and researcher with an interest in gender, migration, participation and citizenship. She has an MA in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, and has worked with grassroots and advocacy organisations including Free the Children, IT for Change, the Women's Edge Coalition and the World Health Organization.

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