Central India : Land Rights ~ Progress and Dignity { 33 images } Created 26 May 2010

These are complex times, when change is a mantra of development, progress and success derive skewed meaning; times where compatible and indispensable are a social dialectic; goals are material, aspiration and hope are apportioned in tangibles. Set in these changing times of liberalization and privatization, major players in mineral processing industries are coming forth to invest in the mineral rich state of Orissa, in the south east of India.
One of the ramifications as a result is a large involuntary displacement of the resident population of marginalized sections, some of them tribals, who've lived in these forests for centuries. However, there is stiff resistance by some farmers against the proposed displacement. These movements have experienced severe restraining methods and the state's brutal suppression, as in the case of TATA at Kalinganagar, Vedanta at Lanjigarh and POSCO at Jagatsinghpur.
Farmers simply distrust the government and feel they are being asked to sacrifice far more than the compensation and resettlements are able to provide. Subhash Mahapatra, one of the farmers fighting for his rights, posed a simple question to me "If I don't want to sell it, do I not have the right to say no?".
Inherent in the farmers' struggle for land against the state and industry is close social and emotional association with their land. With my current project, I am trying to document this relationship of people with their land and language of their struggle against this dispossession.
I personally feel, the choice to do what they want to do with their lands should remain with the rightful owner i.e., the farmer.
Their struggle is an example of such struggles all across India, over time. I feel my work is an important means to carry the message of their social and emotional association with land and the courage, determination and their right to dignity.
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