People's CarIndustrial India and the Riddles of Populism

People's CarIndustrial India and the Riddles of Populism

Sarasij Majumder

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780823282425

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

People's Car explores one of the major movements for resisting the acquisition of land by the government in the interests of siting a Tata Motors car factory in Singur, India. The factory becomes the alibi for nuanced interrogations that are both material and theoretical on resistance, changing rural realities in globalizing India and the very nature and idea of land. It asks why such long drawn resistances against corporate industrialization coexist with political rhetoric and slogans promoting fast paced industrialization. It argues that such contradictory rhetoric and promises target divided sentiments in rural India where land is more than a simple agricultural plot to middle caste small and marginal landowners aspiring nonfarm futures. People's Car breaks new ground by ethnographically establishing the incommensurability between land and money. Such incommensurability or non-equivalence, the book shows, simultaneously drives protests against land acquisition and fuels the demands for non-farm jobs and industrialization, the crux of rural middle-caste aspirational politics. It questions the dominant trend of romanticizing rural life and associated anti-development protests that uses the clichéd dichotomous tropes—rural Bharat vs. urban India.