Indians on a land-grabbing spree

The victim of colonisation yesterday has become today's coloniser. In its new avatar as an economic superpower, India has joined the neo-colonial race to capture land in poor nations in an attempt to outsource food and energy production. Additionally, private investors have discovered foreign farmland as a new source of profit.

These land acquisitions (more accurately labelled land grabs) have the blessings of the Indian government. Through direct and indirect facilitation, the government is encouraging 21st century versions of the British East India Company, the soft economic face that created the wedge for the full might of the British empire to occupy India for nearly two centuries. The helpful measures include financial assistance to make agricultural products for export to India, and schemes like ‘Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme', under which Ethiopian agro-products can enter India on lower tariffs. Not surprisingly then, Indian companies are buying up hundreds of thousands of hectares of fertile land abroad.

Full article can be read in The Hindu's Survey of the Environment 2010. The publication is now on stands. Copies can be obtained by Registered Post (not V.P.P.) for Rs.80 (Rupees Eighty) by drawing a cheque in favour of "Kasturi and Sons Ltd." (Add Rs.10 for non-Chennai cheques) and sending it to the Circulation Department, The Hindu, 859-860, Anna Salai, Chennai 600002 Email: subs@thehindu.co.in

Ashish Kothari is with Kalpavriksh, India; Anuradha Mittal is with Oakland Institute, USA.