【Abstract】The First International Workshop for the Study of Contemporary India(20091213)【Abstract】The First International Workshop for the Study of Contemporary India(20091213)

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Arun Agrawal
Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihoods in Human-Dominated Landscapes: Forest Commons in South Asia?

Forests provide multiple benefits at local to global scales. These include the global public good of carbon sequestration, and local and national level contributions to livelihoods for hundreds of millions of uses in India. Community forests in India are a particularly important class of forests generating these multiple benefits.However, despite decades of work on forests in India, and the undisputed leadership of Indian community forestry policies globally,there is only limited knowledge about how benefits provided by community forests in India are related to each other. We also do not understand well the factors that affect multiple forest outcomes.

A better understanding of multiple outcomes is particularly important as the public and private good contributions of forests are being recognized anew. This paper examines more than 50 cases of forests from the Indian subcontinent to examine how the benefits from forests are related to each other, how these beneficial outcomes are related to a range of causal variables and processes, and the implications of these findings for future community forestry policies. In so doing, the paper contributes to ongoing debates about the role of forests in poverty alleviation, mitigation to climate change, and sustainable environmental outcomes.
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Pratik Chakrabarti
Curing Cholera: Water, Pathogen and Poverty in South Asia

Bacteriologically, cholera germs have been located in two different sites, the environment (water) and the human intestine. The focus of existing historical and scientific work has been on the climatic and environmental factors particularly in Indian Gangetic basic where cholera was believed to thrive. This paper will suggest that there is a third perspective to the cholera problem in India; because of its recurrence in some of the poorest parts of the world, particularly South Asia, cholera is also a “the disease of poverty”. In scientific research epidemiology and environmental factors have dominated cholera research leading to the production of fantastic epidemiological maps of cholera in India. In recent times, there has been a move towards climatic influences on cholera. Such studies have also been shaped by the growing concerns over the effects of climate change and environmental deterioration on disease dynamics. The climatic focus has one problem. It has failed to deal with the problem of the pathogen itself. Throughout the twentieth century the development of effective treatment against cholera remained illusive. It was only in 1959, that Shambhu Nath De, who worked among dead patients in the pathological laboratory in Calcutta, demonstrated that cholera bacteria secrete enterotoxin in the intestine. However, this discovery has remained low profile and the WHO reports do not refer to it. However, both these approaches ignore the issue of poverty. Cholera was not just a disease of a locality, or even the Vibrio cholerae, it was a disease of class, of the poor. Water is a resource access to which is economically determined. In the twenty first century in the era of privatisation of water this acquires particular significance. The privatisation of water in India is going ahead in spite of mounting evidence, especially from Africa that it leads to epidemics.
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Haruka Yanagisawa
South Indian Village Common Lands in Transition: The Decline of the Elite-dominant Managing System and Changes in the Role of Common Lands in Local Agricultural Production and in the Village Economy

In nineteenth-century south India a significant portion of village lands were not cultivated but were used by villagers for grazing their livestock, and for collecting fuel wood, fodder, manure, etc.. Thus these uncultivated “waste lands” supported agricultural production as village common lands. Such common lands were remarkably reduced in area from the middle of the nineteenth century through the twentieth century mainly as a result of the reclamation of “waste” lands. This serious decline in the natural environment that had supported agricultural production, however, was not automatically accompanied by a serious reduction in agrarian yield per acre in south India. This paper aims to clarify the process, implications and results of the decline in village common lands and other common property resources (CPRs) by focusing mainly on three aspects that seem to be instrumental in understanding the process and its results: how common property resources were managed in the context of the changing village social structure, the intensification of agricultural practices as farmers reacted innovatively to the deteriorating natural environment, and the impact of the increase in non-agricultural jobs in the rural economy after 1980. First, the paper argues that in the nineteenth century influential villagers controlled village common land and that this elite-dominant system of controlling natural resources declined with the gradual emancipation of the subordinate section of villagers. The acquisition of small pieces of cultivated land and the encroachment on waste lands by the landless not only mirrored their empowerment and strengthened their bargaining position but also implies, under some circumstances, the creation of possible pre-conditions for an egalitarian type of resource-controlling system. Second, in spite of the decline in village common land and the deterioration of other natural environmental features which had previously supported agrarian production, south Indian farmers managed to maintain agrarian productivity and partly succeeded in raising it by resorting to more intensive methods of production based on a wider use of commercially available manure and on the planting of green manure, and hence reducing their dependence on the natural common resources available in their localities. The growth of trade in manure and the movement of animals that developed over the Tamil districts facilitated the farmers’ adoption of the new methods for raising yields. For Tamilnadu, Blaikie et al. have already indicated that in villages in areas of old, established, and quite intensive cultivation, common lands have a marginal importance. Even in dry zone villages, where some parts of the waste lands remained unprivatized in the first half of the twentieth century, people seem, in the last few decades, to have in part reduced their reliance on common lands as a result of changes in agricultural production. Lastly, the cases witnessed in Tamilnadu and some other parts of India after the 1980s suggest that the growth of non-agricultural job opportunities in rural areas could possibly weaken the pressure on lands and also induce farmers to change their cropping patterns, sometimes leading to an expansion of farm forestry. It goes without saying, however, that such rapidly growing concern about, and engagement in, non-agricultural occupations by rural people could lead to an indifference among the major part of the village population about maintaining local natural resources. We cannot deny the possibility that the decline in the elite-dominant system of control may result in a general decline of natural resource management without a new system being created. The management system as well as the role of village common resources may be at a crossroads in south India.

 

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