Review Assignment and Note for Module E 2006


On the basis of your reading of Meghna Guhathakurta’s article “Globalizatio\n, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-Western Bangladesh,” the Report on the Workshop on Engendering R&R and the chapter entitled “Shefali” in Marginal Nations, analyse how lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women?

Hina Shahid

If we unfold the pages of ancient history, the lack of control over resources in women’s pocket is noticeable within and outside the house. Impact of degradation of the agricultural land due to the fallout of grossly mishandled government projects and natural disasters, and thus the reduction in the resources on the local villagers, has been catastrophic in the coastal areas. The coastal communities, which had been living there since centuries in their ancestral abodes, were compelled to migrate by circumstances, as their key livelihood resources were completely wiped off.

In her article, the writer Guhathakurta has sketched the impacts of large-scale shrimp farming on women in south-western Bangladesh, and has accounted the serious aftermaths on the lives of women due to de-linking of the people from agriculture-based economy to an export-oriented, agro-based shrimp industry. The writer has captured the devastation of world’s largest mangrove forests, the Sundarbans, and focused on the most fragile group, i.e. the women, that is worst hit by the changes in social and economical structures of the area. A significant part of the article is comprised of a historical role of a woman and that is household economy, which somehow, at present, is also overlooked in terms of public documents or governmental census. The involvement in agricultural household from threshing to husking and parboiling, every core work is done by women. Activities like cattle-rearing to poultry farming or kitchen gardening, all land-based livelihoods provided them the opportunity to add to household income. Soon after the increase in circumstantial pressures and market demand goaded them to go for a change, with intensive shrimp farming replacing agricultural as their primary profession. This lack of respect for local system of livelihood in the present market, victimized the poor women, who were displaced due to absence of employment which they used to easily get previously in the rich households. The Multinational Corporations, coupled with the support of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, gained all the access into the local areas and markets, and blocked traditional users’ access to coastal resources. This has meant loss of food, health, and income, causing large displacements of poor people. One important aspect of the article is the loss of grazing land at the Union of Kaliganj, in Bangladesh, that is situated on a slightly higher plane. In this area, most of the poor people earn through looking after these cattle. But the gradual degradation of such land through expansion of shrimp farming has not only affected the employment of poor people, but has also pushed the poor, landless women to get involved in shrimp collecting from the river. Working in knee-deep water causes accidents, as the presence of sharks and crocodiles are reported in the area. Such conditions and the absence of male guardians play an important role in poor women’s displacement. Another factor that contributes in the apathy of the destitute women is that they fall prey to unsettled marriages with the out-of-area labourers that are hired by these companies seasonally. The fear of insecurity and lack of resources for women, forces them to form such relationships.  

While studying the sections of R&R report, it is revealed by presenters that whether it is a resettlement plan, or dealing with government and private concern policies, it is a woman who faces inequalities in terms of resources and distribution. Lyla Mehta painted a true picture of inequality by first pointing out that already in a male-dominated set-up, a woman is mostly deprived of resource allocation; furthermore, she goes on to say that under these typical circumstances, women’s rights, their assets and their spheres of control are generally misunderstood by policy-makers, and there is a great amount of risk involved in the course of their resettlement. The living and working conditions of displaced women, as pointed out by another presenter, Ravi, through the example of Jadugoda uranium mines, remain hazardous. Women are forced out of their land-based work, and pushed into menial and marginalized labour. 

The influential and resourceful traffickers take the innocent women miles and miles away from their homeland, to an entirely alien world, and put them into bonded sweat-shop labour, slave labour and forced prostitution. This is reflected in countless ways in the article, titled ‘Shefali’, one of the prominent chapters of “The Marginal Nation”, written by Ranabir Samaddar. The process of humiliation, in this chapter, begins right from Shefali’s marriage to a violent man. Beaten and tortured, Shefali still did not guess the impending danger, as circumstances and lack of resources to survive delivered her onto the doorstep of a trafficking cartel. As stated by Samaddar, “it is difficult to guess how many Shefalis are sold across the border!” Destitute women and girls from the down-trodden and rural areas are more subjected to such victimization, when they lose control on land and other resources. Large family setups, with fewer resources to feed the family and arrange dowry for the young girls, force the poor parents to indulge in the unthinkable, i. e. to sell their daughters. The available statistics in the article, do not include the big lot of the women being displaced or migrating to other countries. The expansion of shrimp cultivation after the birth of globalization in developing countries has affected women worst. The insight, which Samaddar has tried to give to his readers through chapter Shefali, is the patriarchy, an underlying cause of violence against women, which intersects with capitalism that breeds economic inequality. Political changes, combined with economic crises, have devastated the entire region, causing millions to slide down the poverty line, and thus increasing the forced displacement of vulnerable women.

The process of taking control of the resources by Multinationals has caused the displacement of a huge population. Women have always the least or no access to resources, credit or opportunities. Thus, such conditions lead to large displacement of women within and across the border to meet their economic and social demands as bread-earners. Policies, if well-planned and intelligently implemented, could better protect them from such victimization. 

In a final analysis of these three studies, as a detailed survey of Globalization policies, it can very well be ascertained that the global forces and institutions generally seem to be depriving us of our basic rights to human development and our rights as women and as nations. Same as India and Bangladesh, similar manifestations are in Pakistan, where government projects and intervention of Multinational projects has caused lots of discomfort to the people.


Guhathakurta M ‘Globalization, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-western Bangladesh’Report on the Workshop on Engendering Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policies and Programmes in India held at the India International Centre on September 12 and 13, 2002, Institute of Development Studies and Action Aid, India with support from DFID.
Samaddar R (1999) ‘Shefali’ in Marginal Nation (Sage: New Delhi)

On the basis of your reading of Meghna Guhathakurta’s article “Globalizatio\n, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-Western Bangladesh,” the Report on the Workshop on Engendering R&R and the chapter entitled “Shefali” in Marginal Nations, analyse how lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women?

Judith Macchi

How and to what extent does the lack of control over resources[1] force women in South Asia into migration? This question will be analysed in the following essay by contemplating the article Globalisation, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-western Bangladesh by Prof. Meghna Guhathakurta an expert in gender, development and South Asian politics, the chapter titled Shefali in ‘The Marginal Nation’ a book written by Prof. Ranabir Samaddar an expert in issues of justice and human rights and the report on the workshop concerning ‘Engendering Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policies and Programmes in India’ held at the India International Centre in September 2002.

Prof. Meghna Guhathakurta’s article highlights how the people living in South-western Bangladesh, in the course of the transition from traditional subsistence agriculture to an export orientated agro-based shrimp industry, were deprived of a relatively steady income as well as the gain of natural produce from subsistence farming and therefore of the security to make a living. This change in land use had serious impacts on the lives and livelihoods of all people, but turned out to be particularly crucial for the lives of women, especially for those that are poor and landless. In the subsistence peasant economy women used to play, although this was not acknowledged, an important role in production as it was their responsibility to process the harvested rice and to preserve seeds for the next season. Furthermore, they also gained income raising cattle and poultry on communal land that is nowadays leased off for shrimp cultivation. Women with neither capital nor land, as well as without a male guardian had to go into wage labour and to start collecting shrimp fries in the rivers. Besides being only seasonal as well as risky in terms of labour and security those jobs are not easy to get as shrimp cultivators do not tend to use local labour for their farms and bring in employees form other regions. Hence a lot of men decided to migrate, leaving women behind, depriving them of male protection and therefore of rights that a woman can only call upon as a member of a family and not as an individual. Left unprotected, working under exploitative and insecure circumstances, not earning enough to pay the now market dominated prices for food a lot of women, therefore, decide to migrate in search of security and livelihood, some fall into the hands of traffickers unknowingly, some consentingly (see Gahuthakurta [unpublished]).

Prof. Ranabir Samaddar (1999) in his book about ‘trans-border migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal’ writes the following about migration from boarder regions in Bangladesh: “With immiserization among a section of population in the border districts, unemployment due to expansion of shrimp cultivation at the expense of rice cultivation, rising domestic violence, polygamy and lumpenization among the under classes, more and more women are pushed out on the streets and if many of them go to Dhaka in search for security, many cross the border in the same journey” (Samaddar 1999, p.192). Furthermore, Samaddar points out that girls often agree voluntarily to go with traffickers in the false hope for a job, a good marriage and other forms of security; or parents, being unable to put together a dowry for the marriage of their daughter, hand her over to an unknown groom taking the young woman abroad. The girls are then trafficked within South Asia, but some are also sold to other Asian countries as well as the United States and Europe with most of them ending up working in the sex industry. However, not every woman once sold ends up in the ‘flesh trade’, as he calls it, and many that have crossed the boarder have successfully built up a new life. The decision to migrate has become a way of self-empowerment for numerous women in Bangladesh trying to escape insults, torture and an enslaved life (see Samaddar 1999).

On the other hand, the report on the workshop concerning resettlement and rehabilitation policies and programmes shows that in many cases women are still not given a voice in the decision making process about possible displacement or resettlement schemes. Women often lack information and political power to oppose forced displacement induced by industrialisation, infrastructural or technological projects and therefore resettlement and rehabilitation schemes are far from being gender sensitive. Furthermore, the economical activity of women as for example the production of natural produce on communal property resources is being denied by the authorities and thus not compensated for in the resettlement and rehabilitation schemes. This negation of women’s contribution to the household, although crucial for most families, makes them extremely dependent on men and as they are subsumed within the family their rights and needs as individuals are ignored in the rehabilitation process (see Asif et al. 2002).

The authors of the three articles are clearly demonstrating how the lack of resources leads to large scale displacement of women. Prof. Meghna Guhathakurta impressively shows how women in South-West Bangladesh are deprived of economical resources and are forced into insecure wage labour. Although she does not give an in-depth explanation of how the deprived women are forced to migrate, one is able to deduce that most of these women do not have any other choice than to leave their homes. This becomes particularly clear when reading Prof. Ranabir Samaddar article that engages more with the actual act of migration, showing how unpropertied women fall into the hands of traffickers unknowingly or agreeably. The report on the workshop about resettlement and rehabilitation schemes finally engages mainly with the fact that women are lacking societal/cultural resources. Women are frequently denied to take an active part in the decision making process and are consequently drawn even further into the vicious circle of being marginalised and denied access to resources due to their gender.


Asif, Mohammed et al. (2002). Report of Workshop on Engendering Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policies and in India [online]. Available at: <URL:> [Accessed 10 September 2006].

Johnston, R.J, et al (2005). The Dictionary of Human Geography. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Guhathakurta, Meghna (unpublished). Globalization, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-western Bangladesh [online]. Available at: <URL:> [Accessed 10 September 2006].

Samaddar, Ranabir(1999). The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

[1] The notion of resource is referred to the following definition: “A concept used to denote human satisfaction, wealth or strength” (Johnston et al. 2005, p.706). This concept includes the idea of economical resources like labour, land, capital or raw materials as well as societal/cultural resources like education, knowledge, social security or the right to say in a matter.


On reading "Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan," in Refugee Watch (available in CRG website) and "Pakistan: Development and Disaster" in Internal Displacement in South Asia, comment and Scrutinizing the Land Resettlement Scheme in Bhutan explain how the development paradigms of the Pakistan and Bhutanese states have led to displacement of populations as well as assess their capacities to handle  resettlement schemes.

Khaleel Ahmed

Before we focus on the issue of development induced displacement in the these countries, it would be prudent to have a glance at their geography, and demography, and socio economic conditions. Bhutan’s population is largely rural and farming is major source of income.   While most of the country is covered by forests, the area suitable for agriculture is limited because of steep terrain and high altitude.   The river valleys and the flat lands in the southern foothills account for most of the fertile cultivable land, whereas the northern alpine belt below the snowline is suitable only as pastures.  The most recent estimates suggest that 7.8 per cent of the total land is used for agricultural production including dry land and irrigated crop production including dry land and irrigated crop production and orchards.  Most rural households on livestock, while graze in forest areas and pastures.

Though the Govt. of Bhutan has evolved a concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which defines Bhutan’s development objective as a definitive improvement in the happiness and satisfaction of Gross National Product (GNP).  GNH has been the overarching development philosophy of Bhutan and has guided the country’s development policies and programmes.  GNH suggests that happiness is the ultimate objective of development.  It recognizes that there are many more dimensions to development than those associated with FNP, and that development should be understood as a total process that seeks to maximize happiness rather than economic growth.

Further the influence of population dynamics Compared to its neighbours in the Hindukush and Himalayan ranges, Bhutan's population pressure is not significantly threatening the country's landed resources. Owing to low population density, Bhutan has the majority of its land under forest cover (64 percent). For the same reason, however, shifting cultivation is still being practised in 16 out of l 8 districts. Therefore, while population pressure is still not a big threat in Bhutan, population dynamics have played a role in the evolution of the present land use. The demographic pressure caused by the 2 percent population growth rate has been responsible for an 18 percent increase in cultivated land between 1966 and 1983 (FAO, 1986). Less than one-tenth of the total area of the country is cultivated land. The unfavourable biophysical setting has restricted the expansion of permanently cultivated land and slowed down the elimination of shifting cultivation, which now accounts for one-third of the cultivated area.

he distribution of the prime cultivated land type (wetland or chushing) is highly skewed: 92 percent of it is located in the southern and the western regions of Bhutan. This uneven distribution renders the eastern region more prone to shifting cultivation, for lack of alternatives. The eastern districts have rugged terrain, steep terraces, comparatively less rainfall and the lowest potential for irrigation development. This adverse biophysical setting has led to a situation in which almost 66 percent of the land under shifting cultivation is located in the six eastern districts. The impact of population on land use is more pronounced in the southern region, where 42 percent of the country's population is residing in 17 percent of its geographical area. Almost all the suitable areas in the region have been brought under permanent cultivation and potential for further expansion is limited. Apparently, as a consequence of this scarcity of land, farmers are forced to continue shifting cultivation. This causes a creeping expansion of agriculture into marginal forest land.

Land allotment practices and access to public land Past policies of the government on different aspects of land administration have greatly influenced the evolution of present land use, such as land distribution policy, rights and privileges defining access to public land, land reforms, land tax, land tenure and land use policy. Before the promulgation of the Land Act in 1979, public land was distributed by officials of the theocratic government to individuals, religious bodies, communities or government organizations (before 1907), by His Majesty in the form of royal gifts (after the establishment of hereditary monarchy in 1907), and by districts, the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Forests to landless families that applied for cultivable land or to any religious body or government organization. During this process, the best land was distributed to the religious institutions and influential persons who served the country during difficult periods, as well as to personalities close to local power. These land distribution practices gave rise to the expansion of rain-fed cropland and shifting cultivation practices at the cost of forest land.

The influence of economic development on land use changes. The level of economic development greatly influences the evolution of land use. A higher level of economic development normally helps to stabilize the rapid land use changes by absorbing the surplus of rural labour in other forms of off-farm employment. It also restricts the conversion of public land into cultivable land by increasing the production per unit area. However, in Bhutan the rate of economic development has remained low and has had little visible impact on traditional land use such as shifting cultivation.Under the circumstances cited above, thousands of Bhutanese have left the Bhutan and taken shelter in Nepal, leading a refugee life. Bhutan is not facing the problems of refugees or displaced persons, but the people of Bhutan have fled their land under economic distress, discrimination on the basis of religion etc.

Before focusing on the issue of development induced forced migration in Pakistan, it is prudent to have a glance of its history, how Pakistan came into existence?, and what were the socio-economic conditions prevailing at that land?   Pakistan came into existence on 1947, as a result of frenzy principle of two nations, and partition of undivided India on the basis of religion.  Though the very concept and principle of partition on the basis of religion, was based on misunderstandings of religion, Islam, human nature.  The very concept of Pakistan was based on migration of people on large scale.  All the more it was also ironical that those who carved the idea of Pakistan, and pursued the agenda of partition, and two nations theory, have either an attitude of apathy towards those who were to migrate under their plan, or failed to take care of their sufferings and security.  Further, partition was  a step taken in haste, without considering of its effects.  Result was millions of refugees, massacre and bloodsheds, rapes and murder. In 1947, on the eve of independence 7 million refugees from India migrated to Pakistan

Further the land has faced disasters after disasters.  First it was due to partition, than it was due to Bangla war in 1972, and thirdly due to disturbance and violence in the neighboring country of Afghanistan. Each of the incident added millions of refugees in Pakistan.   To take care of such a large number of refugees, was a Hercules task, and the  result was under development and shattered economy, poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, malnutrition, and law and order problems.

The political leaders and planners who have to set aright such a shattered economy ridden of so many severe problems, were under pressure, as the land was lacking infrastructure, and without infrastructure development no progress was possible. The planners were bound to focus on infrastructure development particularly on power generation and transport infrastructure. Further this is an age of globalization.  The nations are to face international competition in their trade, commerce and industry.  This factor has put immense pressure on planners, who have to yield to hydropower projects, and highway projects hastily.  As a result, 81 large, medium and small dams are constructed across the country since 1947.

In these circumstances, it s quite natural that many ill-conceived projects may be undertaken in haste and under pressure.  , without considering the human aspect and violation of human rights. These projects involved forced eviction of people, lack of comprehensive plans for resettlement of millions of the displaced persons, and the loss of lively hood of the displaced persons. The period of 1958-69, during the era of President Ayub Khan, is  known of decade of development in Pakistan.  Since this country was headed by Military ruler, there was lesser accountability, total apathy  towards the human rights and the development projects were ill conceived, and rehabilitation of livelihood, of displaced persons was undervalued.

Large dams have been declared the bedrock of Pakistan’s agricultural economy and industrial base from the early decades of its national policy and planning. We can argue, despite the differences in nature and scale of dams, the problems and issues faced by displaced people  show similar patterns.More and more development programmes are being initiated to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, population explosion and narcotics in the overall context of good governance.  But Pakistan is still to go a long way to achieve the goals of sustainable development and social justice. We may take the impacts of individuals projects/ dams to assess the situation,

Mangla dam was constructed in the district of Mirpur in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan-controlled Kashmir) and commissioned in 1967.  Mangla dam is the world’s third largest earth-filled dam and first large dam built as a part of Indus Basin Project, following the treaty between India and Pakistan on the use of water from the Indus River and its tributaries.  Official statistics quote displacement of 5,000 persons, while independent figures show displacement of around 30,000.  Overall 81,000 people of Mirpur city and nearby villages were affected.  The displaced persons were resettled in Punjab and Sindh provinces.  Thousands were encouraged to migrate to the U.K.  However, a substantial number of families settled in Punjab and Sindh have not got possession of their allotted lands so far and thus numerous cases are lying influential people.  Another section of affected people are those settled in the districts of Jhang and Khushab.  Even after three and a half decades they are still without ownership rights and they do not have electricity and drinking water supply in their colonies.

Tarbela Dam was launched in 1967 with the financial assistance from the World Bank and this was another mega project of that decade.  At he outset it was assessed that 80,000 people would have to go dislocated and 100 villages would be submerged by the water reservoir.  But towards the end of the project, 96,000 people had been displaced and 120 villages came under water.  The construction of Tarbela dam involved acquisition of 329 sq. km of land for the reservoir structures and other facilities.  Tarbela Dam Resettlement Organisation (project NGO) was set up for acquisition of land, disbursement of compensation, evacuation of affected population and their resettlement.  Policies on matters related to land acquisition; compensation and resettlement were laid down in a high-level meeting in 1967, chaired by the then President of Pakistan.  Provincial governments of Punjab and Singh were directed to allocate 60,000 acres of land (30,000 acres each).  Only Punjab could provide the land asked for in that meeting whereas the government of Sindh allocated only 10,667 acres.  Out of the 667 families who were issued allotment letters in the late 1970’s by the Sindh

Victims of Turbela dam are still waiting for their compensation, while at the ongoing Ghazi Brotha Hydro Project – resettlement plans await implementation in an integrated manner.  Without having a comprehensive plan for development of rehabilitation and resettlement the government has launched another ambitious hydropower project “Vision 2005”.

Thus we see the situation prevailing in Pakistan is quite different to that of Bhutan.  In magnitude also the situation in Pakistan is more severe, as the number of displaced persons and those effected is much higher. There are number of complicated factors responsible for this problem which have been discussed in detail in the preceding paragraphs.  The need of hour is a holistic and comprehensive plan for development and to ensure that while planning the projects and evolving the policies like land distribution, the issues of rehabilitation and compensations for acquistion of land are taken properly care of.

On reading "Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan," in Refugee Watch (available in CRG website) and "Pakistan: Development and Disaster" in Internal Displacement in South Asia, comment on how the developmental model that has been favoured by the Pakistani state have led to large-scale dispossession and displacement of people?

Ksenia Glebova

Despite the fact that resettlement of refugees from India was the foremost issue facing the young state of Pakistan after its independence in 1947, Pakistan has been unsuccessful in addressing internal displacement of its people that has accompanied its ambitious developmental model from the start and whose effects are still felt by many today.

Displacement of people can be caused by various factors including economic development, conflicts and natural disasters and the state of Pakistan has been affected by all three. However, it is Pakistan’s developmental model that has caused most lasting damage and continues to deplete the state’s natural resources and displace thousands of people with no proper system of rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced communities.

Pakistan is similar to other states in South Asia in that its economic development has been going hand in hand with dispossession and displacement of its people and its economic growth was left sadly unmatched by social development. The Pakistani developmental model features rapid large-scale industrialisation and modernisation aiming to end the dependence on agricultural production and promote fast economic growth. The foundation of Pakistan’s economy and industrial base lies mostly in dam projects, built on large, medium and small scale since 1947. The early years of independence were characterised by mega development projects such as Tarbela and Mangla dams, while more recently medium-scale projects such as Ghazi-Barotha dam became common. In additions to dams, the state has also invested into other infrastructure projects, most of which require large areas of land and causing dislocation of the local people.

Pakistan’s Tarbela Dam is the world’s largest earth-filled dam on one of the world’s most important rivers, the Indus, and also the biggest hydropower station in the country, while Mangla Dam is the world’s third largest earth-filled dam. Nevertheless, despite the differences in their nature and scale, the problems these dams create are striking similar as impoverishment risks are present in all dam projects, says the World Commission on Dams. All development projects in Pakistan show similar patterns of displacement and threat to livelihood such as landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, marginalisation, food insecurity, loss of common resources to name but a few. To put it simple, dams raise the level of water for better irrigation and thus submerge houses under the water level thus forcing people to move away and abandon their traditional sources of livelihood. To illustrate, the scale of displacement caused by the construction of Tarbela dam stands at 96,000 physically displaced people, many of whom were still awaiting compensation and proper resettlement in 2005, almost 40 years after the launch of the dam in 1967. Often, resettlement compensation is not only delayed but either inadequate or lacking altogether partly due to gross underestimation of costs during the initial assessment.

The absence of national resettlement policy and legislation is characteristic of Pakistan’s development projects, commonplace elsewhere in South Asia and is one of the most urgent issues that need to be addressed. The colonial legislation currently in force - namely the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 - is clearly inadeqate for modern circumstances since it does not provide for resettlement and needs comprehensive revision. 

Most of the victims of development-induced displacement are already marginalised groups and majority are women and children who get to experience firsthand impact of how forced migration is caused by the question of control over natural resources. The patriarchal order of Pakistani society especially disempowers women as a result of displacement as they normally do not have any control over the use of compensation cash and have fewer choices of livelihood at their disposal. This is further undermined by the lack of community participation and weak NGO response concentrating on relief and assistance rather than addressing the root causes of displacement.

The case of Pakistan illustrates the link between conflict over natural resources, development and forced migration. The Pakistani state developmental model has led to large-scale dispossesion and displacement of Pakistani people because the model prioritised economic industrialisation at its ultimate goal and ignored the human cost of development failing to accommodate the consequences of such economic policy and at its best handling the IDPs on an ad hoc basis. Although originally resettlement in Pakistan was induced by political conflict between India and Pakistan, the newly independent state of Pakistan then adopted an ambitious development programme characterised by grand projects resulting in forced migration flows. It would be fair to say that the state of Pakistan can be held responsible for causing large-scale displacement of its people and the conflict between the state and the people over natural resources.

Although internal displacement issues came to the fore of public attention in Pakistan in the 1990s, public awareness of the phenomenon remains inadequate as interchangeable use of terms IDP, refugee and immigrant shows. The current state of affairs concerning internally displaced people calls for urgent action on behalf of state and NGOs. However, the Pakistani government has launched a comprehensive ”Vision 2025” programme combining dam, irrigation and highway projects and most likely to further increase the destructive toll of development-induced displacement in Pakistan.


Atta ur Rehman Sheikh, “Development-induced Displacement in Pakistan”, Refugee Watch, No. 15, available at

Pakistan: Development and Disaster" in Internal Displacement in South Asia, edited by Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Kumar Das, 2005.

Do you think that ethnicity is an adequate notion to use in the conext of the politics of land-use in India's North-east? Discuss in the light of your reading of Sanjoy Barbora's article  "Ethnic politics and Land-use: Genesis of conflicts in India's North-east"
Madhumita Sengupta

In the referred article, Sanjoy Barbora questions the adequacy of ethnicity as the only category for the study of identity politics in India’s Northeast and suggests that patterns of land-use among others must instead be examined for a proper understanding of what seemingly appear as ethnic conflicts between diferent communities. His argument is based on a study of the situation in the North Cachar Hills district of Assam, which has witnessed a transition from peaceful to militant assertion of ethnic Dimasa identity in recent years.

Sanjoy Barbora blames structural and functional anomalies in administration for alienation of the local people. He points out that the protection accorded to the so called scheduled tribes by the Sixth schedule of the constitution are inadequate in as much as they end up giving more power to outside agencies such as the state or central governments over the district council. For instance, the governor of the state is empowered to make rules that provide for the composition of the district council, qualifications for being elected as members of the council, term of office and the procedure and conduct of business of the council. Again, the council does not have the right to block acquisition of land by the government of the state concerned. All these severely impair the capacity of the council to tackle issues of concern to the local people.

One learns that there are also numerous instances when the district council has succumbed to vested interests, thereby compromising the interests of the local people. Although the former has the responsibility of running the schools, the long-standing demands of the Dimasas for instruction in their language has not yet been fulfilled and Bengali continues to be the medium of instruction in many state-run primary schools. In this case the council members have given in to interests of the trading community, which is primarily non-tribal in origin. The election of non-Dimasas to the council has also stood in the way of implementation of the expressed desire of community leaders for the protection of Dimasa identity and culture.

Ill-planned development strategies, both by the district council and national and international development agencies, that overlook the historical sensibilities of the local people and the local conditions have also contributed to a growing sense of déjà vu among the people. For instance, individual ownership of land has been encouraged as rational at the cost of the traditional shifting cultivation or jhum and community ownership of land, oblivious of its tendency to create inequalities within the community. There is no attempt to develop a viable alternative that is more in tandem with customary practices. In fact, the obsession with the ‘irrationality’ of existing systems of land use tends to shift the focus from the lack of basic amenities such as educational facilities and the control of the economy by the non-tribals. The excessive military presence in the region in view of its strategic location creates further problems as it encourages the cult of the force among the demoralised youth apart from jeopardising the rule of the law in cases involving the armed forces. The author convincingly argues that, under the circumstances, the articulation of ethnic identities in this region is not merely an iteration of ethnic sentiments. Rather, ethnicity becomes the language through which a plethora of grievances get expressed. In other words, ethnicity is just one among several issues in a seemingly ethnic movement.

While Sanjoy Barbora identifies the politics of land use as a key ingredient in identity politics in this region, his credit lies in his advocacy of a multi-dimensional approach, involving the complete overhauling of the entire administrative structure and a general change in perception, to resolve what he sees as a multi-dimensional problem. His study is yet another reminder of the fact that an ethnic movement is not inevitable and that the articulation of ethnic identities do not follow inexorably from cultural givens of the past. He draws attention to the fact that ethnic movements are much more layered and complex in nature and oftener than not induced by deprivation of some sort, primarily economic but also cultural and social. In this case, although the Dimasa image of the self was primarily historically constituted, its assertion was the function of socio-economic and cultural marginalization. In short, the author succeeds in convincing his readers that ethnicity, as a notion, is indeed less than adequate in accounting for the deterioration of ethnic relations in the North Cachar Hills district of Assam.

On reading Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury's "Uprooted Twice: Refugees From the Chittagong Hill Tracts," in Refugees and the State do you agree that conflict in CHT is in the last resort a conflict over land.

Mostafa Mahmud Naser

This article primarily focuses on refugees from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) who on different occasions sought shelter in India. Taking a holistic approach, Mr. Ray Chaudhury discusses the situation of CHT before the displacement and after the repatriation. According to him, the people of the CHT were uprooted twice – in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. Though the immediate reasons were different, the ground for their forced eviction had created long before. The author has presented a detail account on Chittagong Hill Tracts’ socio-economic and demographic profiles and then attempted to link them to the strategies of development and politics of the region of Bangladesh.

The root of the conflict stems at first from the special status the Chittagong Hill Tracts used to have. During colonial times the Hill people had a friendly relationship with the British colonial power of the Indian subcontinent. In return for the loyalty of the tribes, the British recognised the Hill Tracts as a home for indigenous peoples and introduced a regulation in 1900 banning the settlement of outsiders in the CHT and prohibiting the transfer of land there to non-indigenous people. The British rulers pursued the policy of non-interference while administering the CHT. They recognized the local rulers as autonomous entities. The settlement of outsiders was banned in the CHT and non-indigenous people were not permitted to enter the CHT without a permit. However after 1930, a permit was no longer required to enter the CHT. Moreover, the Chackma leaders had believed that they, as being Buddhists would become part of India, but after the division of the Indian subcontinent it was decided that the Hill Tracks became part of Muslim Eastern Pakistan. The Pakistani government removed the CHT from the list of tribal areas and the Hill Tracts ceased to be an Excluded and Tribal area.

Secondly, the construction of the Kaptai Dam in 1964 which led to the inundation to vast agricultural lands in CHT forced several thousands of the CHT people to flee their traditional homeland and took refuge within the region and India. ‘They came in a hopeless, pathetic condition, just with the cloths that they wore’. Their condition clearly depicts that they got no compensation from the govt. of the then Pakistan. When these hapless people came to India, the state governments of Assam and Tripura refused to accommodate these people and they were settled in the land of North East Frontier Agency. In this case, we see that the conflict was basically over the question of development. Bearing the brunt of development, the tribal people were excluded from its benefits.

In Arunachal Pradesh, regulations prohibit non-locals and non-residents from acquiring interests in land or land produce. Due to these regulations, the Arunachal Pradesh authorities felt that the decision to settle the Chakmas and Hajongs was wrong. Here, we find the conflict generating due to the possession of land.

However, under the Indira-Mujib Agreement of 1972, it was decided that India and not Bangladesh would be responsible for all migrants who entered India before 25 March 1971, and therefore the Chacka and Hajong refugees who came to India from the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) before 25 March 1971 would be considered for the grant of Indian Citizenship.  But they remained stateless even after the amendment of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1985, and since their resettlement, the Chakmas and Hajongs have been illegally denied Indian citizenship and systematically deprived of other fundamental rights. They were occupying land so they had to be removed. Here we see that to remove them, they were tortured, forcibly evicted after burning their houses. This conflict was mainly over land.

Then the AAPSU began a ‘Refugee Go back’ or ‘detect and deport’ foreigner’s programme. The main motive behind all this, we see, is the desire to acquire the land occupied by the Chakmas and Hajongs. In 1980, the government of Arunachal Pradesh banned employment of Chakmas and Hajongs, seized their trade licences in 1994. Thus, their employment options were reduced, which would force them to leave, locked in a vicious cycle of poverty. Basic social infrastructure like schools and hospitals were dismantled in areas inhabited by Chakmas and Hajongs. They have faced institutionalized discrimination under different Chief Ministers. They have become permanent victims of xenophobia.

The third major blow for the indigenous people of CHT is the creation of Bangladesh. In 1971, during the war for Bangladesh’s independence, people in the CHT in general had not been very active in supporting the Bengalis. They saw the Bengali freedom struggle as a conflict between the Bengalis and the West Pakistanis; they felt they had little to do with it. Moreover one of the Chhackma leaders showed his faithfulness to Pakistan and the Hill Tracts became a hideout base for Pakistani loyalists during the independence struggle. So, the Mukti Bahini, after independence, went on a rampage in the CHT in the name of hunting Pakistani soldiers. Subsequently, the 1972 constitution of Bangladesh did not recognize the distinct identity of the indigenous people living in the CHT. The new state of Bangladesh was based on the idea of Bengali nationalism and did not leave any scope for cultural or political autonomy for the hill people of the CHT. As it became clear to the political leadership of the indigenous people of the CHT that the Bangladeshi government was not in the mood to listen to their concerns on the new nation’s political agenda, they set up the Parbotyo Chattogram Jana Sanghata Samiti (PCJJSS) as a political group, and later its armed wing, the Shanti Bahini (SB). The Bangladesh government later followed the policy of settling plains people in the fertile land of CHT and in no time the region was overrun by Bengali speaking Muslims from plains of overpopulated Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh government’s aggressive settlement policy has threatened the traditional rights of the tribals over the land. In regard to the government’s discrimination and marginalsation the armed conflict broke out between Chakma tribals and government security forces in eighties.

As a result the SB carried out a series of attacks on Bangladeshi forces and civilians and the Bangladeshi forces inevitably reacted with counter-insurgency operations. After a series of massacres by Bangladesh security forces, in 1986, many refugees sought shelter in Tripura.

With the changing global scenario, socioeconomic and geopolitical situations in South East Asia, the CHT refugees finally struck a deal with the Bangladesh government in 1997 and returned back. However, the peace accord failed to reflect genuine hopes and aspirations of the CHT people besides failing to fulfill main demands including restoration of traditional land-rights and withdrawal and resettlement of the Bengali settlers. Infact land issue remains at the core of the problem of internal as well as external displacement while property rights of the tribal population have been regulated by local traditions and not registered in public records, the Bengali settlers obtained official documents certifying their ownership of land. So, after leaving the homeland either forcefully or for well-founded fear of being persecuted, the tribal people of CHT lost ownership of land. So, naturally, when the tribal people of CHT were repatriated  following the Indo-Bangladesh Accord (1997), the Muslim settlers refused to give up land. Thus, the land question, which had been the principal reason for the repeated exodus of the people of the CHT, continues to remain unresolved. As the govt. of Bangladesh was hesitant to tackle the land question, the resettlement scheme could not succeed. Based on available figures, it may be suggested that about 30,000 persons have not been able to regain possession of their land – thus making them internally displaced upon return to the CHT.

The reasons for forced migration may be many.  It may be due to poverty, development projects, violent conflicts, ethnic hatred, demand for self-determination, counter insurgency operations by security forces, ethnic/political discrimination, taking over of land by migrant communities, but at the root of it all lies the resource crisis. In fact, the uprooted indigenous people of CHT launched armed movement only to regain their traditional homeland snatched by outsiders in wake of development, nation building and suppressive militarization and Islamization.

On reading Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury's "Uprooted Twice: Refugees From the Chittagong Hill Tracts," in Refugees and the State do you agree that conflict in CHT is in the last resort a conflict over land.

O.P. Vyas

The question basically evolves around the laws of motion.  The 21st century will be an age of significant demographic changes around the world. While dealing with the problems of displaced people from Chittagong Hill Tracts, the developments taking place around the globe should also be taken into consideration for better understanding the age old problem in wider perspective.  Perhaps the past and present could result in better future for the victims who are suffering for no fault on their part.  The Socio-economic factors still govern the fate and destiny of these hapless and helpless refugees.

 It is pertinent to mention that along with increasing globalization-particularly the expansion of international trade and other forms of interdependence - our world is marked by increasing disparity of income and opportunity.  These factors inevitably result in intra and inter-border movements of people, mostly from poor to rich regions and countries.  The United Nations Population Fund’s State of World Population, 2006 released on Sep 6, 2006, estimates that nearly 200 million people  worldwide are now living in places outside their home countries and nearly half of these are women.  This ‘hyphenation’ of existence and identity, as critical theorist Homi Bhabas put it, is here to stay.

The original inhabitants of Chittagong Hill Tracts could manage to keep their distinct identity, social and religious values intact and survived on their homeland upto the British colonial rule.  But the decision of Boundary Commission under the leadership of Sir Cyril Redcliffe changed their fate and destiny over night.  The partition of India which can be attributed to the handiwork of ‘Advocates’ brought in travesty of justice for these people.  The creation of two nation theory based upon hatred and religion perse gave rise to intolerance and birth to several massacres uprooting several thousand people from their home by making them refugees.  The people of CHT were no exception, they too lost their distinct identity being the tribals which hither to they continued to enjoy since long and the new regime of East Pakistan based on Islam had consisting policy of marginalizing them with the polity of nation.  The Muslim influx from plains moved in and uprooted them by forcing them to live in the form of diaspora.

In order to save their lives, they migrated to India and took  shelter in Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.  The Construction of Kaptai Hydroelectric Power Project over the Karnaphuli river inundated the green patches of their land under cultivation in 1964 and hundreds of thousands of people (mainly Chakmas ) were displaced from their traditional homeland.  Around 40,000 such people crossed over to India and took refuge in Tripura just with the clothes that they wore.  Some of them later moved to Assam & Arunachal Pradesh.

They continued to live despite all odds hoping for dawn that  is still eluding them.  Despite Indira-Mujib Agreement, 1972, the issue of citizenship still remains un-resolved.  The intervention later by the Supreme Court of India and the NHRC in this regard  could not address their grievances to their satisfaction.  The threats launched in the Arunachal Pradesh aimed at evicting the chakmas and Hajongs, the ‘Refugee go back’ movement, the Referendum Rally still haunts them. They are facing grave hardships on account of ban on employment to them, snapping of ration supplies, economic blockades, socio-economic boycotts, burning and closing down of their dwellings and educational institutions.  Apart from this they are also being denied their civil and political rights as they were subjected to beatings, inhuman treatment, their belongings were looted, womenfolks were being hackled or molested.  All the while the State of Arunachal Pradesh either acted directly against them or remained mute spectator. 

As such they find themselves locked in to vicious circle of poverty.  Hundreds of these refugees have lost their lives in the absence or denial of medical facilities.  The Bengali nationalism in Bangladesh has costed them too much.  They suffered a lot there and are suffering here as well every day every night.  The problem with the passage of time has aggravated further.  The gradual militarisation and Islaminisation, series of massacres by Bangladeshi forces (1986, 1992 & 1993) forced around 90,000 Jumma tribes to migrate and take refuge in Tripura.  Those few who returned back pursuant to the pacts of 1992 & 1997, Peace Accord are still struggling hard to get back their homes.  The Bengali Muslim settlers have now captured their landed properties and the Bangladeshi Govt. has been doing nothing on ground to restore them back their houses and landed property.  The religious and ethnic cleansing  goes unabated with impunity.  The mere lip services by the Govt. across the border has shattered their hopes midway.

By analyzing the entire gamut of the problem in hand and by viewing the sequence of events that had taken place since then,  there is an urgent need to address this complex issue not in isolation but in totality.  It is true that in India, we do not have any consistent policy on  refugees.  We still continue to deal it case by case basis.  The Apex Court on the intervention of NHRC (NHRC V/S State of Arunachal Pradesh) while delivering the judgment had stated  that the State Govt. ought to  protect life and liberty of the refugees instead of being a party to the horrendous practice of  ethnic cleansing.  But even then the ground realities have not changed.

The refugees of CHT can be persuaded to go back, but who can give them guarantee for their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights there in Bangladesh. Despite the pathetic conditions in which they have been struggling and living here in India hoping for better future in the coming days, they are still not inclined to return back, since the ground realities across the border are more terrific and devastating.  Their past frightening experiences forcing them to leave their homeland and to  remain here as refugees for their very survival may be a better option for them.   They need sympathy from State, the Govt. of India in particular, which is now their custodian.

At the International level there is a need for an international covenant on migration that will hold all member countries to some basic commitments to the rights of immigrants, including social, legal and political rights.  Both sending and receiving countries need to put in place policy frameworks that maximize the positive contributions of  migration, the former with regard to poverty reduction and development, and the latter apropos of policies aimed at inconclusiveness.

The people of CHT have left their homes, because their basic identity was threatened and they were made homeless, under these complex factors, their own land comes first and thus it can be concluded that the land question, the principle of reason for the repeated exodus of the people of the CHT continues to remain unresolved.  As now emerge from the entire scenario, it is true that the conflict in CHT is in the last resort a conflict over land.

On the basis of your reading of Meghna Guhathakurta's article "Globalization, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-western Bangladesh," Report on the Workshop on Engendering R & R (both available in CRG website) and the chapter entitled "Shefali" in Marginal Nations, analyse how lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women?

Mohd. Abdur Rashid

An intrinsic gender bias is noticed during forced displacement confirmed by available law, policies and practices. It is matter of serious concern to exclude the women from consultation and decision making processes prior to displacement and from compensation and rehabilitation packages (Asif et al. 2002). Large-scale displacement of women is found in our society due to among other reasons lack of control over resources. The articles listed above give ideas how lack of control over resources can have adverse affect for large-scale displacement of women.

In her article Guhathakurta analysed critically the impact of the shrimp industry on gender relations in the backdrop of the overall socio-economic and structural transformation, which is taking place within the South-western region of Bangladesh. She found that the shrimp industry is playing positive and negative role on the economy and  environment respectively in this region but its effect on gender relations and in the domain of the family and personal relationships has been more disguised as well as the very delinking of the peasant economy from subsistence agriculture to an export oriented agro-based shrimp industry necessitates change in gender relations. In the article it is revealed that by growing shrimp industry, women are losing control over resources in two ways. Firstly leasing of land to shrimp farmers and secondly lose of traditional subsistence agriculture also included subsidiary activities like cattle rearing and poultry farming due to environmental degradation resulting from shrimp cultivation by which husbands are bound to either divorce or desert their wives. Besides, Shrimp cultivation controlled by rich and powerful outsiders enhance insecurity of poor women like rape, threat, false cases, cattle lifting, physical torture. Finally, authoress tried to prove the situation of women’s large scale displacement by giving example of how women were trafficked across the border to be sold as housemaids and prostitutes in India, Pakistan and the Middle East.

 Asif, Mehta and Mander summarised the workshop papers attempting to critically examine how the absence of state policy for gender justice in displacement impacts women.  They found in one paper that by ensuring access to Common Property Rights (CPRs) women may be relieved from large-scale displacement and on the flip Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) processes were found to favour only for the man and not for the woman as well as negation of the woman’s contribution to the household income is denied and as a result thousands of women are being forced into relationships of dependence on male members. Lyla Mehta’s presentation referred to that gender inequality in terms of unequal resource allocation and distribution and also legitimise silencing of women’s interests are perpetuated due to male biases in society and  these inequalities are perpetuated and exacerbated by male biases within the state dealing with displacement and R&R. In his paper Walter Fernandes explained the impact of loss of people’s access to CPRs because of displacement. He also mentioned that only 7 women got job out of jobs given to the large number of displaced families in a project. In Shekhar Singh’s presentation it was found that irrigation projects released water only at night and this situation is obstacle for women to access the benefits of schemes and they eventually lose control over resources. The loss of control over religious and heritage sites also impact negatively on women. Focussing on the gender dimension, Ravi cited in his paper that women have no legal rights over lands or natural resources and for this women have been forced out of their land based activities. Vasudha Dhagamwar’s paper explored that women were not invited to meetings on land acquisition since they were not landholders. According to Reider Kvam due to inadequate social planning, high social tension ensured, women were found to increase displacement.

Case of Shefali in the Marginal Nation is a clear example of displaced woman who was not owned resources. Shefali’s painful harassment through moving from here and there is only due to lack of control over resources.  In her case it is found that lack of awareness of information girls are trafficked through the borders. Dowry that is beyond control over women is another reason for which they are trafficked or displaced. Many other women of Bangladesh are sold after being trafficked and later they are retained in jail and trapped in the slave trade. It is noticed in this case study that women are migrating either individually or being followers of family members to resist insults, torture and an enslaved life and also for poverty communal discrimination, inadequate educational opportunities for children and ecological disaster.

The analyses described above extracted from the three given articles argued clearly that lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women though the papers have covered many other issues of migration, trafficking, displacement and human rights. Finally, authors suggested that as far as possible displacement should be avoided, since rebuilding the lives of displaced people is extremely difficult.

On reading "Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan," in Refugee Watch (available in CRG website) and "Pakistan: Development and Disaster" in Internal Displacement in South Asia, comment on how the developmental model that has been favoured by the Pakistani state have led to large-scale dispossession and displacement of people?

Saba Hussain

The author has clearly demarked different forms of IDP-generating displacements --development induced, conflict induced and those induced by natural disasters.The author’s account is richly illustrated using well documented case studies from across Pakistan. But before looking at the issue of displacement one needs to understand the Pakistani state’s historical developmental thinking which also translates into its policy of resource allocations. In 1950s the nascent state joined the network of international defense treaties with the United States against what was perceived to be the threat of Soviet Communism and become a favorite candidate for receiving the benefits pledged by US President Truman. Only under the Ayub Khan regime the logic and hallmarks of Pakistan's basic model of development took a more concrete shape. Economic growth through rapid industrialization and modern technology formed the core of this model, with the state taking up the role of facilitating accumulation of investment capital. During that period Pakistan was a model capitalist economy and a favorite candidate for receiving aids from USA and its allied donor/aid agencies. Much in tune with this large dams were declared as the bed-rock of Pakistan’s agricultural economy and industrial base. The author aptly points out that issue of resettlement of uprooted communities has always been secondary to the project plan. The experiences of the displacees of the Mangala Dam, Tarbela Dam, Ghazi Barotha Dam as well as of the numerous expressways, industries, military installation are a testimonial of the same.

The author points to the high allegiance of the subsequent military regimes with USA and other proponents of the neo-liberal developmental paradigm like the WB and the IMF, he doesn’t really link it up with the ominous absence of democratic governments in Pakistan. As the military state doesn’t represent the interests of the communities or the popular interests it can more effectively than others advocate the interests of international capital and hence see these developmental projects to their logical conclusion. How else can one explain the continued indifference of the state to the millions of uprooted communities? A clear indication of this slackness on the part of the state is that the draft National Resettlement Policy and enabling law documents have been fine tuned as par the needs of the stake holders. But the formal endorsement of the provincial government is delayed. The current account would have been even more holistic if the ‘class’ nature of the state and its national and international allies would have been highlited.

Political conflicts within and across border are another significant generator of IDPs in Pakistan. The author terms the role of the state institutions in mitigating problems of the displaced population as ‘criminal negligence’. Neither the provincial nor the federal governments have any mechanism to avoid or manage such large scale displacement of people and disruption of livelihoods. The author points that the measures available are ad hoc as the root of the problems aren’t addressed. This neither checks displacement nor does it allow effective relocation forcing the victims into a vicious cycle of violence, destitution and poverty. Off late the Bugti- tribal feud that the author describes here has now turned out into a fierce armed struggle between the Bugti tribesmen under the Nawab Akbar Bugti and the Pakistani state. Recently, the death of the aging Nawab due to firing from Pakistani army has further complicated the situation. This is a clear case of how the state meant to be protecting the masses has gradually passed on from being indifferent to resolve ethnic conflicts between them to become hostile to them as and when it is suitable to the governmental interests. Amongst the conflict induced displacement in Pakistan the case of Kashmiri IDPs is well known but ambiguous. The author’s accounts hardly reduce the existing ambiguity as the account makes it sound like this section of IDPs are somewhat privileged in terms of getting governmental assistance due to the constant tussle with the Indian government over their future. As the issue of border between these countries is yet to be resolved we can’t label these people as IDPs or put any other label upon them. Besides, the author hasn’t given any clear indication of the citizenship-status of these people. The governments on both sides of the border remain insensitive to the vulnerability of the Kashmiris to the frequent exchange of fire.

Unfortunately Pakistan is also a highly disaster prone country with disasters ranging from earthquakes, floods, draught, landslides, etc. All of which have the potential of disrupting the socio-economic life on a massive scale. So far approach followed is that of emergency response instead of sustainable solutions towards disaster mitigation and preparedness. Like all the above mentioned forms of displacement here too the relief and rehabilitation are inadequate and ad hoc. The author rightly points out that though there have been several civil society interventions but they haven’t been adequate to substantially influence the national policy or the law, and above all the state’s overall developmental thinking.

Clearly, the country’s millions of IDPs for various reasons as mentioned above are present a grim scenario. But no solution to the problem seems eminent due to constant instability of the Pakistani state and a continued push towards foreign capital driven development.

On reading "Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan," in Refugee Watch (available in CRG website) and "Pakistan: Development and Disaster" in Internal Displacement in South Asia, comment on how the developmental model that has been favoured by the Pakistani state have led to large-scale dispossession and displacement of people?

Toyin Oluwaniyi

Atta Ur Rehman Sheik :

“Pakistan: Development and Disaster” in , Paula Banarjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudury and Samir Kumar Das (eds) Internal Displacement in South Asia

New Delhi/Thousand Oaks/London: Sage Publications.

62-112 (51 pages).


Attah Ur Rehman Sheik:

“Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan” in Refugee Watch

3 pages.

The chapter in a book and contribution in the Refugee Watch magazine are both written by Attah Ur Rehman Sheik. The chapter in a book titled “Pakistan: Development and Disaster” shows detailed factors resulting in internal displacement of people in Pakistan. These factors include: a) development-induced displacement; b) conflict-induced displacement; c) natural disasters-induced displacement. He identifies the problems entrenched in the Pakistan Constitution regarding refugees, internally displaced and land rights, and he makes recommendations for a better treatment of internally displaced people. The contribution in the Refugee Watch titled ‘Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan’ is a summary of his work in “Pakistan: Development and Disaster”. But it focuses on the development-induced displacement.

Sheikh’s greatest contribution in both papers can be seen in his assessment of the developmental model initiated by the state as the best approach to bring about industrialization and good governance. He traces the  developmental approach of Pakistan to 1947 but the approach intensified from 1958, a period known as the decade of development. One of the developmental measures initiated by the Pakistani governments is the building of dams to improve the agricultural economy so as to increase external revenue; and to generate electricity for the populace. Such dams include: Mangla Dam, Taibela Dam, Ghazi-Barotha Hydro power project, and Kalabagh Dam. Other developmental programmes embarked upon include: the turning of Islamabad into the Capital city of Pakistan, creation of dual ways to beautify Pakistan, the National Motorway Network Project launched to bridge the gap between the Northern and Southern areas of the country and facilitate business and communication between them, the Lyari Expressway project, and lastly, is the Chashma Right Bank Canal (CRBC).

Unfortunately, the human cost of the projects has been extremely negative on the people especially, the poor masses who rely on the proceeds from the land for their livelihoods. To him, rather than ensuring the development of people’s lives, it has resulted in increasing poverty level of people, impoverishment, unemployment, loss of education by children, lack of food, loss of common resources and breakdown of social networks and most importantly, the internal displacement of people from their ancestral homes. Unfortunately, the people most affected are the peasant farmers. The impacts are the same in all the regions and villages affected.  In the Mangla Dam project, 81,000 people in Mirpur and nearby villages were displaced; 96,000 inhabitants were displaced and 120 villages destroyed in Tarbela Dam project; 21,653 people including the landowners were similarly displaced in the Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower project; about 83,000 people have been estimated would be displaced in the Kalabagh project; and 203,000 people were estimated to be displaced by the Lyari Expressway project.

Displacement has resulted in loss of compensations to victims of displacement due to lack of promise fulfillment by the government. Most times, resettlement and restoration of livelihood of displaced victims are largely ignored as it was the case with the Asian Development Bank in the Chashma Right Bank Canal project. When compensations are given, a lot of inconsistencies are present in the process. Much more importantly, is the lack of and inadequate rehabilitation measures taken to rehabilitate victims into normal lives and livelihoods. The rehabilitation measures are hindered in the area of proper and legal allotment of resettled lands. At times, indigenes of the resettled lands drive away new settlers and at other times, elites in the resettled areas use their influence to forcefully take back their lands from the settlers. For others, they deliberately dispose of their allotted lands due to difficulty inherent in cultivating lands allotted to them. 

The female gender bears the greatest burden. Due to their participation in the economic activities of the family, particularly in livestock care, harvesting of crops, seedling, fetching drinking water and provision of food to male members in the farms to mention but a few, it has been realised that they are totally marginalised during compensation because the tradition of Pakistan does not allow women to hold money when their husbands are alive and even when they become heads of families for some reasons, especially, widowhood, they find it difficult to move from one office to another to get compensation or get their land allotted.

The situation becomes more critical in the absence of national resettlement and compensation laws. The Land Acquisition Act of 1894, the basis for laying down the framework for exercise of the right to eminent domain of the state has failed to incorporate clear policy regarding resettlement and compensation to the project-affected persons. While it lays down procedures for acquisition of private properties for public purposes and their compensation, it is silent on resettlement issue. Resettlement is then determined by the government in power or ad hoc committees to determine standing laws.

All these are the impacts of the developmental model as explained by Atta Ur Rehman Sheik

On the basis of your reading of Meghna Guhathakurta's article "Globalization, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-western Bangladesh," Report on the Workshop on Engendering R & R (both available in CRG website) and the chapter entitled "Shefali" in Marginal Nations, analyse how lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women?

Vanita Banjan

The articles reviewed in this essay dwells on two issues namely globalisation and its impact on women; and the inbuilt bias against women in resettlement and rehabilitation policies. To begin with, Meghna Guhathakurta’s article on ‘Globalisation and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South–western Bangladesh’, highlights globalisation as a pervasive phenomenon and hence difficult to dodge. Be it shrimp farming or manufacturing shirts for branded companies, women in Bangladesh have always been at the receiving end. Before analysing the plight of women workers or landowners affected by this new market forces, one has to have a clear understanding of globalisation.

Both globalisation and exploitation of women are age-old occurrences and have continued disturbing the sensitive mind. What has been termed as capitalism in the past has been recoined into a sophisticated word as globalisation. Capitalism has always been ‘expansionist’. But it cannot expand by restricting its growth to a single nation state but has to spread out constantly creating colonies and unequal trading partners. It is through such evil nexus that the capitalist have prospered and their colonies suffered. Today globalisation once again seeks to open up economies to a competitive global market. It promises the gain of competition to everyone but is silent, on who should bear the initial burden. Increasingly the truth is exposed that the countries benefiting from the global trend are the developed nations. On the contrary the third world countries are often battered under the pressure of competition. Globalisation seeks its target amongst the poor and 70% of the poor in the world are women.

At the international level the global system operates in a highly discriminatory fashion, while capital moves at an incredible speed, labour movement especially unskilled is restricted. On the other hand at the domestic level the opening of the market has suddenly thrown the industries to face a highly competitive world, resulting in the closure of many industries. Trade barriers erected by the developed countries have hampered the growth of exports of labour-intensive goods especially from the South Asian region. The provision of social safety nets has also been weakened in this region, as government’s ability to help the victims of globalisation has been eroded.

Though an initial benefit through growth of employment opportunities have been accrued by the third world it did not last for long. Export processing zones and free market zone are created to facilitate the multinational and transnational corporations. Globally up to 90% of those working in export processing zones are women. There is no doubt that these new job opportunities benefit the marginalized section of our society but very often these jobs are tedious and monotonous. Moreover it has also introduced new pressures to lower the protection offered to workers. This is most evident in the export-processing zones, where workers are often not permitted to organise trade unions.

Farmers are another target group worst affected by the process of globalisation. The new economic order emphasises on production of cash crop. Traditionally it has been the woman who emphasised on increase in the production of food crops and domestic food production. The mounting emphasis on cash crops has brought about a change in the pattern of land ownership. With subsistence economies increasingly being commercialised, the worst suffers are the poor and women. All the three articles bring out effectively the plight of women when effects of globalisation impact their lives. Whether it is shrimp cultivation or resource depletion the impact falls gruesomely on the weaker sex. Women have much to loose in the changing scenario. The patriarchal society hardly recognises the rights of a woman. When displaced people are offered compensation by the government, it is the man as the head of the family who is counted for relief and a family headed by a woman is often ignored. 

The process of globalisation has not in any way contributed to diminution in the abuse of women nor has it elevated her status in society. Ranabir Samaddar’s ‘Shefali’ in his book Marginal Nations depicts the quandary of a displaced woman who is ready to face an unsure future in India than a definitely humiliating life back home in Bangladesh. Her predicament is becoming more precarious with the change in times. There is not much hope for her in either country.  

Women have been conspicuously invisible in history as well as in the economies of the world. The hitherto history of mankind has counted the experiences and listened to the voices of men. The citizen is often presumed to be a man with public responsibilities, while women are expected to gain in the process but never as equals. Issues related to women were restricted to the private domain and hence could not seek relief from the state. While policies were being chalked out for resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced people, no time or energy was spent in understanding the plight of a woman. Decision-making has perpetually been the domain of men. The Report on Engendering Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policies and Programme in India has also reiterated the invisibility of women in the negotiating process. As long as gender discrimination in the society at large continues, specific policies would not be able to transform the overall condition and level of opportunities for women. Government as well as policies need not be gender neutral but gender sensitive.

To conclude I quote Mahbub ul Haq, (Human Development in South Asia-2001), “Globalisation is no longer an option, it is a fact. Developing countries have either to learn to manage it far more skilfully, or simply drown in the global cross currents.”


1 C P Bhambri ‘Globalisation India: Nation, State and Democracy’, Delhi: Shipra Publications, 2005.

2 Himani Bannerji ‘Immigrants Women: Labour in the North American Continent’ in Perspectives in Women’s Studies Globalisation, Malini Bhattacharya (Ed), New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2004.

3 V T Patil and D Gopal ‘Politics of Globalisation’, Delhi: Authorpress , 2002.

4 Asish Ghosh ‘Women Agricultural Workers Food Security and Globalisation’ in Perspectives in Women’s Studies Globalisation, Malini Bhattacharya (Ed), New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2004, pp-27&28.

5 Jan Jindy Pettman ‘Gender Issues’, in The Globalisation of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations’ John Baylis and Steve Smith (Ed), Oxford University Press, 2005.

6 Kathleen Staudt ‘Women Gender’ in Politics in the Developing World, Peter Burnell and Vicky Randall (Ed), Oxford University Press, 2005.

7Human Development in South Asia-2001, Globalisation and Human Development centre, Oxford.

8Jagdish Bhagwati ‘In Defence of Globalisation’New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2004.