Review Assignment and Note for Module F 2007


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? (Module F)

by Ashirbani Dutta

With the onset of globalization, there have been persistent efforts of bureaucratic manipulation to cajole the policy makers of the developing countries to integrate with the world economy under the guise of “their own betterment”. But while efforts were made to accomplish this objective, globalization started demonstrating the wisdom of the world’s capitalist system with its in-built mechanism for exploitation of resources. It began to disarticulate the organic link and synergy between stakeholders and environment and left traces of serious repercussions on their lives and livelihoods, especially on that of women. While the capitalist world is busy pocketing lion’s share of the profit as their sole prerogative, and while the some ordinary stakeholders, reaped benefit from the system, the patriarchal culture of the region continued to perpetuate the ideology of house-wife and their domestication with absolute and deliberate ignorance of women’s labour in the market economy. So women had to face difficulties in the form of capitalist exploitation of resources and patriarchal hegemony. Although introduction of cash economy proved to be a blessing for those who could adapt their skills to the changing scenario, not everyone was benefited likewise. Environmental degradation, displacement of agricultural production and proletarianization of a class, exposed the poor women to high risks in terms of labour and security. With sudden but unanticipated change in the pattern of land use, women folk lost the right to opt for occupation of their choice. They are left with only alternative to adapt their skills to earn their living out of the opportunities thriving in a particular region.
Outsourced migrant labourers developed marital relations with local women only to desert them and their children to fend for themselves. Growing social conflicts and tensions over control of common pool resources, state-sponsored change in the pattern of land usage, pocketing of lion’s share of profit by businessmen from outside being politically supported by local authorities and their hired musclemen led to serious dispute over khas land, forced or false contractual agreement on leasing of land, non or partial payment of lease money, environmental degradation, various forms of violence like murder, attempted murder, abduction, setting ablaze of farms, lack of job opportunities and food insecurity. Lack of judicial promptness and under-table agreements between police and local leaders also exposed women to security threats, hostage-taking, false cases, trafficking, rape, dacoity, physical torture, verbal abuse, forced miscarriage etc. Loss of right to land, loss of grazing land, lack of fodder, dearth of other income-generation activities or employment opportunities, overarching patriarchal influence and being pushed by the compelling needs to manage their families forced women to cross border or migrate elsewhere looking for jobs.
In countries like India, absence of state policy for gender justice in displacement has adversely impacted women. Because of access to common property resources, rural women of indigenous communities have an independent livelihood source, which is not acknowledged and compensated by authorities in their R & R programme. Lack of provision for livelihood replacement for women, lack of sanitation, privacy and access, welfare facilities for women and children in R & R programme, and gender bias have left these programme grossly inadequate. Even draft “National Policy, Packages and Guidelines for Resettlement and Rehabilitation 1998” of the Ministry of Rural Development, have treated the people residing in land for less than 5 years before date of acquisition, for the purpose of R & R as “encroachers” of common land. The forest dwellers residing in the forest areas after 30th September 1980 suffered the same fate. Women’s rights, assets and sphere of control over resources often revolve around informal institutional arrangements which are rarely acknowledged by the policy makers in course of resettlement. All these led to wide scale displacement of women without being compensated for deprivation from natural resources.       

The chapter “Shefali” in The Marginal Nation clearly depicts the story of a Bangladeshi Girl who was trafficked. After escaping from clutches of traffickers, she was subsequently apprehended by police, tried for illegal stay and sentenced to jail. The author in this essay expressed his concern over the “fate” of the girl, who would be “pushed back” few days later on the expiry of her jail term as an “illegal immigrant”. This story depicts the tip of iceberg, as majority of such cases go unreported. But such girls never consent to the sale of their persons while they are out on their quest for shelter, security, family and livelihood. Marginalization of a section of population in border districts, growing unemployment due to expansion of shrimp monoculture, lack of control over common property resources, rising domestic violence, polygamy, suppression of under classes have led women being pushed into streets in search of security and livelihood options. Low pay, sordid working conditions and long hours of back-breaking labour in and around the metropolis have prompted these women to cross the border in search of alternate options of living, only to be lured and trafficked into forced prostitution, organ trade and bonded labour. Such large-scale displacement of women by way of trafficking through borders become easier because the girls are unaware of their fates while they are in transit. Families facing high demands of dowry, fall easy prey to traffickers giving fake promises of marriage of their daughters. Even in families like that of Shefali, where male members have migrated and settled elsewhere in search of better opportunities and where shefali and her old mother are the only bread-winners, being deserted by her husband, she fell into the hands of traffickers. Such life of rejection and deprivation compelled her to look for other alternatives. Also, the element of “power” often pushed women to decide to migrate to resist torture, insult and enslaved life imposed upon them by patriarchal society. In fact, decision to resist takes the form of decision to migrate as a step towards self-empowerment, as “a definite survival strategy” and as “a strategy to gain autonomy”. All these provided a tacit acceptance of risks like low wages, new insecurities, initial uncertainties in settling, harassment and sexual exploitation of these displaced women. Lack of opportunity and control over resources often exposed these women to risks of being sold. Simultaneously, the burning desire to retain autonomy, being harried by the patriarchal dominance, often shared a twilight zone in the consciousness of these women.

On how lack of control over resources has led to large-scale displacement of women
by Barbara Keller

After the reading of the three literature sources, on which this review assignment is based, I am convinced that we have in the in the case of the growing shrimp industry in South-Western Bangladesh to talk about (forced) migration instead of using the word displacement. Even though there are severe causes that led to the decision to migrate, it is most often an action and not being done by someone else (Samaddar 1999: 196). It is a reaction and a direct consequence to the decline of their basic life resources, mostly the degradation or even loss of land.

From the state and the big land owner it is presented as a way to development and progress. To them it brings money and economical growth. As Guhathakurta writes, “for some the cash economy being introduced has proved to be a blessing, especially those who could adapt their skills to the changing scenario.” But most of the people who are affected are poor farmers or landless people, women and children. For them the damage or loss of the little land they cultivate, has disastrous consequences. It means that the poor population of the region gets even poorer and the rich people richer. As women and children are mostly affected by poverty, the consequences hit them particularly.

The growth of the shrimp industry is a land consuming project. Companies buy land and force the owner to sell. While the shrimp industry is much less sustainable than the small scale farming, processes of salinization and degradation take place. Guhathakurta describes the landscapes of the shrimp farms as following: ”A bleak landscape of shrimp farms, without trees, without vegetation, in fact without a single scrap of grass in the sight.” This in turn minimises also the grazing land to breed cattle. The lack of fodder, which is one of the four renewable resources besides water, land and animals, prevents even poor people from rising goats or poultry.

Shrimp cultivation is expanding so fast, that it is taking up not only agricultural lands, but also much of the government land which is usually distributed to the landless. The loss of common property resources (CPR) has according to Werner Fernandez a large social impact on women, as they may not have formal land titles (R&R Report). CPS can not only be seen as material assets, but they also constitute the livelihood of people, particularly poor people.

These devastation living conditions, a sum of lack of work as well as lack of good land in order to live self-sustainable, force people to leave their home.

Together with the shrimp industry came also a troupe of violent men into the region. They don’t hesitate to use violence as a means to reach their aims, to take land in order to stretch out the shrimp industry. Poor women were, as Guhathakurta points out, primarily concerned of their security. In many cases they were hostage to the tyranny of the shrimp lords. Ranabir Samaddar (1999: 196) states in the chapter ’Shefali that “women often decide to migrate in order to resist insults, torture and an enslaved life.” And, not as usually supposed, women do have an influence on the decision if migration is the solution to the present problems. In 121 of the 521 cases surveyed by Samaddar, the women had a say in selecting the new site. Another alternative for women than migration was resistance. But it is a dangerous one.

For men the main reasons that activate the decision to migrate are poverty, communal discrimination and inadequate education possibilities for the children. As Samaddar (1999; 187) found out in his research, women cited often directly some ecological disaster as reason for migration and pointed to the insecurity for their girl children, whom they wanted to marry off safely.

Recapitulating: the lack of control over resources forced women in South-Western Bangladesh to leave their home or even their country. And there are two main explanation-complexes for this:

(1) Through land loss or degradation they were deprived of their most important basic resource on which their lives depend.

(1) If the women got work at the shrimp farms, they suffered under the dangerous working conditions and the violence of the shrimp bosses.

Cited Literature

“Globalization, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry In South-Western Bangladesh” / Meghna Guhathakurta, unpublished 

Report of Workshop on Engendering Resettlement & Rehabilitation Policies and Programmes in India, Mohammed Asif, Lyla Mehta and Harsh Mander, November 2002

On the basis of your reading of Meghna Guhathakurta's article "Globalization, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-western Bangladesh,"[1] Report on the Workshop on Engendering Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R & R)[2] and the chapter entitled "Shefali" in Marginal Nations[3], analyse how lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women?

by Elizabeth Williams

This review argues that on the basis of reading Globalization, Class and Gender Relations, The Workshop Report and Shefali, women’s large-scale displacement is better understood as a result of women’s lack of rights rather than a lack of control over resources.

It must be observed that this review is solely interested in how lack of control over resources has led to women’s displacement, and not in how displacement itself might lead to lack of control over resources. Therefore, those issues raised in the articles relating to compensation for displacement, rehabilitation, and women’s negative situation post displacement will not be addressed. 

This review takes as its point of departure the fact that while women enjoy a number of informal rights, they may not have formal land titles. Lack of land can be understood as an example of lack of resources. Globalization, Class and Gender Relations demonstrates that in the context of the growth of the shrimp industry in south western Bangladesh, only persons that own and lease their land were able to benefit from the introduction of the cash economy. The article explains that the landless have no alternative but to work in the industry collecting and selling fries or by working in the farms. Reportedly, the shrimp industry displaced women from working in agricultural production, and that for landless women and women without male guardians, the only economic activity that was left to them in the region was collecting shrimp fries. This exemplifies how women’s lack of land as a resource has led to their displacement from the farming sector, although the scale of the displacement is not indicated.

The growth of the shrimp industry also succeeded in excluding landless women from the possibility of being distributed government land under law; such was the expansion of the shrimp industry that government lands were re-appropriated. That women are deprived of their right to land should not only be understood as women lacking a resource, but also as lacking the inability to access entitlements. In the context of the shrimp industry, women were unable to realise their rights due to the power balance lying with the political elite who were themselves involved in shrimp farming. For example, landless families were illegally evicted through the bribing of local officials. It is important to recognise that women’s ability to realise their rights is also cross-cut by issues of caste and class.

That women lack sufficient power to prevent their displacement is reiterated in The Workshop Report which explains that R&R consultations, negotiations and transactions are often only undertaken with men. Smitu[4] notes that women are denied information on specific projects and are therefore unable to make informed choices. Vasudha Dhagamwar[5] reports that male family members often failed to report on what had taken place at land acquisition meetings. Dreze[6] identifies women’s inability to veto men’s decisions made on resettlement. This demonstrates that silencing women’s voices is key to their displacement, which this review argues should be understood as indicative of women’s lack of empowerment, not lack of resources.

Moreover, that resettlement consultations view resources solely in monetised terms is to overlook those other assets that women might have control over, such as kinship networks, socio-cultural links with common property, or informal institutional arrangements. That such assets are ignored in resettlement negotiations speaks not to women’s lack of resources, but to their subordinate status in society. Shefali exemplifies this point. Shefali is the story of a young woman from Bangladesh who, in exchange for her security, was ‘sold’ to men across the border in India. The article situates this case of displacement in the context of unemployment due to the expansion of the shrimp industry (as has been addressed above) rising domestic violence, and polygamy. In Shefali’s case, her insecurity was exacerbated by her not being married and her having no male family members to support her. It is contended that Shefali’s insecurity due to domestic violence and polygamy is better understood as the manifestation of women’s unequal status in a patriarchal society, or a lack of protection not as a struggle over resources.

Women lack not only the power to make their voice heard, but the ‘space’ for their concerns to be addressed. This can be seen in that women’s voices are underrepresented in laws, polices, or institutions related to displacement. Ramkunwar[7] reports that in Madhya Pradesh, a petition sent against the bulldozing of the village school was met with police repression. Globalization, Class and Gender Relations describes how poor women in shrimp areas were held hostage to the tyranny of the shrimp farmers. Amita Baviskar[8] argues that in Dehli ‘illegal’ slum dwellers have been displaced several times by ‘bourgeoisie environmentalism.’ She argues that slum dwellers lack not only the right to housing, but the right to livelihood and the right to question their displacement. Again, these examples reiterate the fact that women’s lack of rights is central to women’s inability to resist their displacement.

Unemployed and/ or unmarried women might also be exposed to another form of large scale displacement: trafficking. Shefali estimates that 50 women are trafficked out of Bangladesh every day. Some women are lured by the promise of better jobs or marriage and go ‘voluntarily’ some are forced my family members unable to pay a dowry, whilst others are kidnapped, and sold for sex, or in some cases, their organs. This nature of displacement further highlights women’s insecurity not women’s lack of resources.

This review has demonstrated that women’s displacement follows from women’s silenced voices, women’s insecurity, the denial of women’s agency, and women’s inability to realise their rights. In this way women’s displacement should be understood not solely as a result of women’s lack of resources, but as a result of women’s unequal power relations with reference to the family, the community and state institutions.

[1] Hereafter referred to as Globalization, Class and Gender Relations

[2] Hereafter referred to as  The Workshop Report

[3] Hereafter referred to as Shefali

[4] Cited in The Workshop Report

[5] Cited in The Workshop Report

[6] Cited in The Workshop Report

[7] Cited in The Workshop Report

[8] Cited in The Workshop Report


Essay on Pakistan

by Anuniru Felix Chidozie



Development in the real sense of the word should and be favoured by any civilized society within the context of a rapidly industrializing world where any society that chooses to ignore this trend does that at her own peril. On the superficial level, this may sound quite attractive, but conversely, development has also left in its wake serious socio-political, cultural, economic and psychological consequences for a nation and a people.

In light of the above, the developmental model that has been favoured by the Pakistani state can be placed within perspective. In Pakistan, most of the developmental projects, including small ones, have required large scale of land for the construction of air-ports, sea-ports, military installations, campuses, industrial units, housing schemes, canals, highways, roads and, particularly, large dams; causing dislocation of human settlements and disturbing the livelihoods of the dislocated people. The rural communities are said to be major victims in a way, while the people from semi-rural and urban areas are also suffering the negative impacts of development.

The case has not ever been whether development will enhance the economic base of the nation of Pakistan, but the case has always been the issue of adequate compensation, re-settlement and rehabilitation of the dislocated families and communities. Thousands of families and communities are said to be forcefully evicted from their decades of ancestral root, and by implication, means of survival, yet promises of re-settling them often made by the government is ignored in the long run. For instance, in the case of the construction of the Mangla dam, despite the promises of a good package given by the government, some of the over 81,000 people displaced by the project, even after three decades and a half are still without ownership rights of their lands and they do not have electricity or drinking water in their colonies. Also, in the case of Tarbela dam, about 2,100 families are still waiting to get their claims settled even after the lapse of more than 35 years. Usually it is alleged that foreign donor funded projects entail a good package of compensation and re-settlement plans, as World Bank-Asian Development Bank guidelines and directives have to be followed, while in nationally or privately funded projects, resettlement plans are largely ignored or inadequate and untimely compensation is extended. 

The above situation becomes all the more critical in the absence of national policy and adequate laws on resettlement and compensation issues. The key issue in development-induced displacement is the absence of national resettlement policy and a law that can address the problems of fair and timely compensation, rehabilitation, restoration of livelihood and participation of affected communities in the decision making at all the stages of the project. Suffice it to say here that in Pakistan, displacement owing to development presents a grim scenario that includes landlessness, unemployment, homelessness, marginalization, lack of food, loss of common resources and break down of social networks. 

The Paradox of Development and Displacement in Pakistan

The Pakistani case presents a picture of a nation in dilemma. A nation that is in need of development yet has to contend with the negative consequences of development manifested in displacement related traumas. It is a case between sustainable development and social justice. The process of industrialization and development in Pakistan is an on-going one, cutting across all sectors in order to bring meaningful life to the citizens of Pakistan and set the nation on the path of economic re-birth.

However, Pakistan has to pay a high social price by embarking on these projects usually sponsored by World Bank-Asian Development Bank whose guidelines are supposed to dictate the social implications varying from compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation. But what is witnessed usually is sporadic, inconsistent and ad-hoc measures at addressing these complications. This has been described as ‘case to case approach’ to addressing social injustice. The government usually goes into negotiation with local authorities at every instance of developmental project that would affect the communities, instead of having a strong mechanism or legislation in place that will cut across all boards.

From the indication above, the people of Pakistan would not naturally resist development that will engender a new life for them, except for government failure to remain faithful to previous promises made. The example of the construction of the Tarbela Dam which met stiff opposition by the local community leaders as a result of government failure in the past to meet their expectation readily comes to mind. Coupled with this is that the affected people who are relocated to other provinces had to face retaliation from their ‘hosts’. For instance, in Punjab a majority of those who were allotted land were either forced by the influential people of the area to vacate the land, or were compelled to dispose of their allotted land, as it was difficult to utilize or cultivate it.

The above scenario presents not just dilemma on the part of government but also on the part of local communities who are supposedly the direct beneficiaries of the development. It appears that the government is left with no option but to bring the much desired development to a nation in dare need of it, which is a reasonable policy approach, but will have to contend with an antagonistic population whose legitimate claims have not been adequately addressed. A meeting point would have to be struck, in that an all encompassing measure need to be put in place so as to promote this positive policy direction of government ant guarantee comprehensive compensation package for the sacrificing population.

Gender Dimension

The developmental model approach of the Pakistani government toward national growth leaves much to be desired on the gender issue. The vulnerable groups especially the women folk face greater trauma from the above approach. During the construction of the National Motorway Network Project for instance, greater adverse impact was faced by women who equally participated in the economic activities of the family, particularly in livestock care, harvesting of crops, seedling, fetching drinking water and providing food to male members in the field, and numerous other field tasks, apart from household chores. Now that the land had been divided on either side of the motorway and there were no direct approach ways, one had to travel long distances to reach the land for cultivation. As a result the women became marginalized and affected economically. The mobility of the women was greatly reduced. Community ties and interaction were shattered owing to the design of the project that did not address the adverse social impact on the displaced communities.

The cash compensation also generally dis-empowers women, just because women do not handle cash or for that matter have control over financial resource within the family. Therefore, the decision to spend the money lies with the men of the family. Being mostly in the informal sector and without much skill, and mainly involved in menial jobs, women do not have many choices to invest the compensation amount in some productive small business where they can earn their livelihood. The women in agriculture have to face harsh impact as, in the case of loss of land and other common resources of livelihood, they have fewer choices at their disposal for future. The only choice is to migrate to big or small cities for domestic work or other odd jobs for survival. All of these severely impact on the health and nutrition of women, as well as on their children, who remain without education during this process of change.

The civil societies have been in the vanguard of advocacy on behalf of this group of persons shortchanged by gender considerations. Their activities are not just limited to policy advocacy, but also awareness raising, research and pressure group activities. They are said to be few in numbers and include Sungi Development Foundation (SDF), Pakistan Network of Rivers, Dams and People, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), and other community- level organizations. These have not only succeeded in raising awareness about the plight of the women, and by implication the internally displaced persons, but have also to brought to the front burner the peculiar case of women as special targets in the development- induces displacement.


It is apparent that the development model adopted by the Pakistan government, while connoting a positive trend in their match towards national growth has serious structural flaws and inadequacies. It not only paints a picture of a nation without considerable legal  provision for the development-induced victims of their national policy program, but a nation with no centralized mechanism for checking future disputations that may arise from this procedural program which will spill into other future developmental activities.

The option left to the government is to uphold all treaties which it is signatory to relating to the plight of internally displaced persons and particularly adhere strictly to the UN Guiding principles which it has only succeeded in paying lip service to. Thus, the state has to come up with up-to-date laws and integrated policies, incorporating sectoral and gender needs, to assist and protect the citizens from adverse implications of displacement and violations of human rights.

 The media on the other hand must raise awareness about the need to reconcile this development dilemma by first clarifying their confusion about the conceptualization of IDPs as against refugees. This will place in its right perspective what category of persons need government attention at every point in time. All hands must therefore be on deck to not only preserve the development need of the state of Pakistan, but to uphold individual rights and liberties.

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 has led to large-scale dispossession and displacement of people?

by Geetisha Dasgupta


Analysing displacement in Pakistan, Atta ur Rahman discusses two principal causes: 1) development; 2) conflict. The author correctly points out, most of the developmental projects undertaken by the Pakistani Government produce the natural corollary of an internally displaced lot.

The developmental model that Pakistan has picked up is one of rapid (if not rabid) industrialization. The principal motto, following the birth of the nation in 1947, was to set Pakistan on a fast track to development, through astute financial planning. So, there came about the five year plans. Help of international monetary institutions was sought, and timely available too. It all translated into several mega projects like, dams, city and/or road development schemes.

The author, in his write up, has taken up the technique of direct exposition followed by an analysis of the statistics pertaining to displacement occurring in the project. He later delves deeper by indicating how, if at all, the Government mitigated the problem.

Rahman, very efficiently shows the picture. Many of the dam projects fail, as is the general trend in the subcontinent, to rehabilitate the displaced and the dispossessed. The people, who are forced to move from their place of residence, migrate into other provinces, face the brickbat there and get hostile towards the mainstream developmental thought focusing on industry. Therefore, the concern that should have been a matter of forethought, but was relegated to a minor status, finally takes up the role in vitiating the entire project, simply because, the success of one project cannot be forcibly announced over cries of disdain from a major chunk of the populace.  

The author has very carefully picked up the cases for study in relation to the problem. He mentions at least two dams (Mangla Dam and Tarbela Dam), which were rendered unsuccessful due to the lack of prior thinking on part of the project planners to visualize the problem of rehabilitation in the right magnitude. Mostly it so happened that, the commission responsible for the project under-calculated the number of people that needed to be provided with pacific arrangements, ranging from cash assistance to alternative residential provisions. The Government has done everything from undervaluing the assets of the people to encouraging the people to migrate to the UK so that it had to do less and less of compensatory work. As usual, the official statistics pertaining to displacement never matches and falls hugely below the actual figures. Sometimes, a project continued for so long a time or had been stopped in between due to political/social reasons to resume at a later time, that in the mean time, the number of affected people had escalated manifold, as has happened with the Mangla Dam. So, there arose crisis whenever one particular affected family or person, included under the beneficiary list from the beginning of the project was so provided and someone opposed who was eventually affected, but did not have his name in the government list. As always, nepotism and cronyism have been inalienable parts of government dealings. Moreover, as was witnessed in the Tarbela case, when the people affected with displacement, moved from one province to another, there occurred feuds. It is not enough for the provincial governments to stand guarantee to each other that one would provide for the displaced from the other. They popular consent has to be taken and resources are not aplenty. The Kalabagh Dam Project also suffers from the same ills, where promises have been showered but no enactments. This project has been subjected to utter politicization and therefore has been halted time and again. While the government, through the Chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, assertively includes a completed Kalabagh Dam under its Vision 2025, the three concerned provincial assemblies have passed resolutions to stop the construction of this dam.  

The most classic problem, apart from lack of governmental farsightedness, is that of internal corruption. The Ghazi Barotha Dam project was a perfect project in terms of resettlement of the displaced, compensating the affected etc. It was treated as a precedence, which was to be followed by all and sundry. The project included development of three model resettlement villages. The Ghazi-Barotha Project Organization (GBPO) was drafted to be restructured and expanded under the aegis of Loan and Technical Assistance Grant Agreement between Pakistan and Asian Development Bank, and include a host of developmental measures like Environment and Social Division, a Project Non Governmental Organization (PNGO). The PNGO was slated to assist in monitoring the resettlement matters. At such a height of commendation, it was suddenly discovered that the Ghazi-Barotha Project was suffering from the greatest land acquisition scam in South Asia. In 2002, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Regional Accountability Bureau (NWFP) unearthed that, "payment of compensation was made at highly inflated rates for low category of land, non-existing facilities, infrastructure and orchards." Actually, it was all done in an understanding between the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the land owners. The Land Valuation Assessment Committees have also been fraudulent. When the affected held the World Bank responsible for their plight, the latter drifted back, stating clearly that all problems are to be sorted out with the WAPDA and the NAB and the WB has no finger in the pie.  

Apart from governmental mishandling, there occurred large scale depletion of natural resources in all the projects. The results have been so much far reaching that almost each and every cross-section of the community lost their age-old livelihoods. A particular case can be stated about the women, who, lost mobility and were more and more relegated to the confines of the home, due to the projects. A little elaboration on this point might be helpful. Roads were built right across the villages, or crop fields. Earlier, the women, who moved in groups or alone, from one place to another for the purpose of livestock care, crop harvesting, seedling, fetching drinking water or providing meals to the male members working on field etc. and therefore had equal participation in the economic activities of the family. With the development of motorways, women became marginalized and economically affected at the first instant. Along with the women, community ties were deeply affected. Development has all the way treated people only as mere elements that have to be relocated at the best, but never taken into consideration the social and psychological dimensions of the process.  

Apart from the Dam projects, several other developmental projects have also been taken up by Rahman for discussion. The Islamabad Capital City, the National Motorway Network Project and the Lyari Expressway Project are the instances where similar price is being incurred by the erstwhile residents to facilitate the development versed by a few.

Several projects tend to see failure for the sheer incapable nature of developmental laws. Pakistan shows a peculiar case, where one law, the Land Acquisition Act 1894, enacted under British India, is treated as the principal general statutory guideline for all land acquisition problems. It has later been remoulded or reinterpreted according to the need of the hour, but the new model pertained only to the particular project during which it was drawn up. It's quite unimaginable, but the base law persists unaltered till date, while different provinces follow their own versions of it. Therefore, the rehabilitation requirement, the land allocation ceiling, etc are not uniformly defined for the country as a whole. Neither can the old law tackle modern problems, nor can the new policy decisions be regarded as laws, for their very edifice is called into question by the very existence of the former. The law is peculiar in the sense: it is one law, but certainly not a single one. As many as 12 different laws have been drawn up under its premises, but many of these variants have overgrown it.

As is the case with every developing or underdeveloped country in South Asia, Pakistan also witnesses a host of civil society organizations that try to plug the various loops and gaps in the functioning of the development authorities. The author mentions two umbrella organizations and a few local organizations that function in Pakistan. The Sungi Development Foundation (SDF) is the most important one, followed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The   SDF has brought into being the Pakistan Network of Rivers, Dams and People, which is the leading network involving issues of displacement out of dam construction and all four provinces of Pakistan has its members. Some of the small organizations include Anjuman-e-Mutaasireen Tarbela Dam (for Tarbela Dam), DAAMAN (for Chashma Right Bank Canal Project), Anjuman Mutasireen Islamabad (for the capital city) etc.

Despite their pre-eminent presence, the author accuses, they lack the amount of impact that they should have had. They have more accent over research on ecological or environmental dimensions displacement/development than over real resettlement issues. In fact, the author points out, the displacement issues are quite secondary on their agenda. The infinitesimal amount of study that is done by the consultants pertaining to the real resettlement or displacement problems, fails squarely to take into consideration the gender and child dimensions of displacement. They overlook the fact that the kind of compensation package the Government offers to them, is inadequate for women. Currency notes are not enough compensation for the women who lose their agricultural occupation or occupational habitat due to displacement. The choice to spend money still lies with the male members in this part of the world. The women can be effective where they have a way of their own to earn, perhaps in kind. With every strike of displacement, the women have to move to the cities in herds in order to survive by doing odd jobs as household maids. Thereby, they lose their communitarian ties and are made to face the society in the capacity of a single individual, who is thoroughly incapable of doing so.

The development model, therefore, marked by rather hasty move to develop at any cost, makes the people suffer a very harsh fate. The governments still do not realize that perhaps a different thought is required to develop each area. An umbrella development paradigm is certainly not suitable to this part of the world.


On the basis of your reading of Meghna Guhathakurta’s article Globalization, Class and Gender Relation: 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?

by Laxmi Shrestha


In a predominantly male dominated society, women have always been discriminated in terms of utilizing resources.  Gender-biases are deep rooted and are reflected in women’s lack of control over resource such as land, housing and property in particular. Although lack of control over resources contributes significantly to displacement in human lives, women face special vulnerabilities.

In a fast growing world economy, the pace and form of development has negative impact on people’s lives, especially poor and marginalized. Many have been forced to leave their home and land by the man-made disasters and the large economic developmental project. The process of socio-economic development which changes the pattern of use of resources causes displacement which is particularly traumatic for women. This results in the breakdown of community networks and social services, loss of livelihoods and resources and disruption of social services. Indeed the very life of people, especially women gets disrupted. Loss of resources for subsistence leads to hardship, social tensions and impoverishment which forced women to migrate to other places for earning their lives.

In Guhathakurta’s article, although shrimp cultivation in South-Western Bangladesh links the country with the world economy, the huge project victimizes the local inhabitants. The monoculture shrimp industry occupies the agricultural land as well as the Khas land, which by law is to be distributed to the landless. As a result, the local inhabitants are being forced out of their land, especially those who have little or no access to resources. The structural transformation from peasant economic to monoculture shrimp industry is taking place as a consequence of the shrimp industry. The expansion of shrimp cultivation accelerates poverty for the poor and marginalized women. Women who are depended upon the agricultural lands for their living loose their socio-economic support when the agricultural lands are taken by the shrimp industry. Lack of access to resources and social security, these women are subjected to migration in search of alternatives.

Similarly, the large developmental project significantly contributes to displacement of human lives, and its impact on women is pervasive. In countries where patriarchy exists, women are generally secluded, and it is more intense among the displaced women. The state and project policies fail to address women’s needs that force them to be more marginalized and dependent. This is largely a result of gender biased laws and policies. The resettlement and rehabilitation programme designed to re-compensate displaced people support the male members only, but ignores women. During displacement, women have to live in deplorable conditions without proper shelter and lack of privacy. The women are also deprived of adequate water, health care facilities, sanitation and hygiene. As a result, they become more susceptible to physical, psychological and sexual violence. However, such issues are not taken into consideration by the state and the project policies. Furthermore, lack of institutional support mechanisms and gender-sensitive policies in project programs, the women become more deprived of accessing to resources that make them dependable. 

Dr.  Ranabir Samaddar  in his book `Marginal Nation’ presence how lack of access to control over resources contributes significantly to women’s increasing poverty which compels them to cross the border for seeking better jobs to earn a better living and become victims of trafficking. In the context of South Asia, at least hundreds of thousands of young women and girls are employed in Indian the brothels, of which large percentage of these victims are from Nepal and Bangladesh. In addition, many have become victims of the increasingly widespread practice of trafficking in persons across international borders. The factors governing trafficking are: low wages paid to women, low economic status, gender discrimination, domestic violence, lack of education, early marriage, cultural practices such as dowry and conflict. Most of the young women and girls are trafficked for flesh trade and end up in the slavery like situation. In addition, some are also trafficked to work in circus, beer bars, forced beggary, domestic work and for removal of organ. Most of them are trafficked by promise of better jobs by their acquaintances, relatives, friends, trafficked women and their so-called husbands and boyfriends. Some girls voluntarily cross the border for seeking better alternatives due to miserable life in their own country. The trafficking in person often breakdown the kinship and social network, undermines public health, suffering wage discrimination and labor exploitation.

Utilization of the resources by the developmental projects and lack of women’s control over resources are the root causes of forced migration of women. Forced migration also takes place when state fails to compensate the women adequately. The women’s specific needs should be prioritized by the state, project policies and resettlement and rehabilitation process.  Women's right to control over resources should be considered in terms of their entitlements which can help to prevent women from being migrated or cross the border to seek better jobs.


Guhathakurta M ‘Globalization, Class and Gender Relation: 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)


How lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women in Bangladesh?

by Meren Longkumer


With the expansion of shrimp cultivation at the expense of rice cultivation, rising domestic violence, polygamy and lumpenization among certain classes, more and more women are displaced in their own country and many-crossed border in search of their livelihood and security. With the advent of shrimp cultivation that is expanding so fast that it is taking up not only agricultural lands in the area, but also much of the government land by the roadsides which by law, is to be distributed by the local government to the landless. Therefore, Many women feel deprived of their rights to this land, and therefore feel the need to put pressure on the government. But this is not easy, given the fact that many of those who own the shrimp farms are not only members of the local power structure but also involved in national politics at the highest level.  Another important deprivation is the loss of grazing land. Traditionally, farmers send to send their cattle to graze for the season down to the lowlands where poor families often earned an income by looking after the livestock.

Women of this area particularly are victims of the socio-economic transformation. Women are also been deserted by their husbands, due to lack of agricultural land, could not find any work as labourers and hence not being able to cope with managing a family either crossed the border or migrated elsewhere looking for jobs!. The situation of women Bangladesh also remains particularly acute because they are taken out in the largest number to be sold into forced prostitutions, organ trade and for slave labour.

Estimates suggest that over 5,000 Bangladeshi women are becoming the victims of trafficking-in-human beings with false promises of jobs, marriages and other forms of security. The families having problems in marrying their daughters due to high demands of dowry become an easy prey to such offers. Therefore, girls are vulnerable at the hands of their parents because they are seen as a burden after a certain age. The poor parents, being unable to put together a dowry for their daughters voluntarily hand them over to the unknown groom, even when he is proposing to her abroad. The offer of marriage is mostly acceptable in case of a girl who could not be married due to lack of dowry, or who had come back from her husband’s house immediately after marriage, again because her father could not continuous dowry demands. Another factor, which is quite disturbing in all the available news reports, is that the uncles (maternal and paternal uncles) persuade the parents to give their daughters away to these grooms. Infact, some of the uncles are paid by the brokers to carry out the job of persuasion.

Most of the women have escaped the fate of Shefali and have successfully crossed the broader and have taken up jobs of helping the coolies in road repairs, have reached West Bengal working in big bazaars in Calcutta via Dhaka’s garment industry, where the low pay and staggering work conditions goaded them to proceed beyond Dhaka after a 2-3 year long stint of hard labour as garment workers, paddy transplantation work in the paddy fields, as housemaids and particularly work in brickfields and shrimp cleaning units dotting the area around the metropolis.

Women often decide to migrate to resist insults, torture and an enslaved life. Thus migration becomes a form of self-empowerment for countless women in Bangladesh. Malavika suggests that Thadani-Todaro’s notion of autonomous female migration’ should be substituted with the notion of survival migration remains unclear as imperatives to survive may lead to desires for autonomy, and “power”, therefore, retains considerable importance in any appreciation of the dynamics of population flow.

Women often cited directly some ecological disaster and hence decided migrate to a safer area. Ecological disasters like flood or famine appear as the destroyers of ‘home’ and to the women, therefore, they act not only as metaphors but as harsh reality. The decision to migrate made jointly with based on the premise that women would fine it easier to find a job.- hence the decision of the migrant women of Bangladesh are parts of both ‘a definite survival strategy’ as well as ‘a strategy to gain autonomy’

The constant flow of young women across the borders, now struggling for survival, ensures that many of them would end their journey in the brothels of the metropolis, also it ensures ‘a bottomless supply of cheap labour’ suffering wage discriminating, exploitation and sometimes the destruction of culture, kin and social relations which late became a problem of identity once the crucial ties were served, now recedes into marginality.

From the  writings of Samaddar , it is very clear that poor women are facing a lot of hazards , and the effect  of industrialized development program ( such as shrimp cultivation) , causing  occupational transformation to the poor women and this enhancing displacement . But the situation of women in the middle-income families whose livelihood were also primarily based on land-based resources was out of his discussion or argument and which of the article  can create a misunderstanding that polygamy is practiced only among poor families. The readers may raise a demand for  knowing  the brief history of displacement of women  In his article, it was also difficult  to identify the coping strategy of poor women with the changing form of employment.


Samaddar- The Marginal Nation- Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West    Bengal

Globalization, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-western Bangladesh-  Meghna Guha thakurta


Pakistan Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan

by Qaisar Jamali


In the present-day world, marked by globalization, economic integration and technological advancement, migration has become an international phenomenon. There is freer movement of goods, services, capital, labours and ideas then ever before. Although barriers to international trade and financial transaction have been dismantled significantly over the past two decades, barriers to cross-border movement of people still remain high.

Displacement /forced migration were considered a problem in the past with negative implication for development. It was adversely viewed in terms of brain drain; labour force depletion and rural exodus. However, in the globalised world of today, there is a growing recognition of the positive effects of migration. Migration also entails benefits such as knowledge, skills and technology transfer, reduction in unemployment, modernization, democratization and empowerment of the disadvantage segments of society.

 Despite its benefits, however, displacement /forced migration remain a polemical issue. The main reason for this is that migration like trade and capital flows has distributional implication whereby net gains for society may entail losses for some individuals and groups. It also creates ripples of resistance because the movement of people has economic, psychological, social and political consequences.

The rapid and unplanned industrialization adversely affects people and they are rendered home less. Even increasing population is a constant problem which results in further population growth but less resource generation. At the same time ill conceived development projects like high ways, big dams are a born of contention when discussing about resettlement of displaced population. Ambitious political leaders take decisions with out considering pros and cons of affected communities.

As forced migration development included diverse phenomenon, its economic impact in one place or another is largely determined by the particular circumstances involved. Moreover, in view of the paucity of basic data on migration, assessing the impact of policy changes is fraught with difficulties. This underscores the need for better data and more research. Moreover, institutional arrangements need to be made to provide authentic information on migration opportunities and risks to avert unfortunate migration decision and to limit the abuse and exploitation of vulnerable migrants.

Pakistan being a developing country is no exception to these phenomena she also faces problems of displacement and forced migration. One of the biggest problems of Pakistan is that she stills enforces land acquisition act for displaced population which was formed in 1894.This obsolete act further complicates resettlements issues of displaced population like cases of Mangal and Tarbela  dams are still pending. On the other hand importance of large dams can’t be ignored in the economic development of Pakistan as Pakistan is an aggregation society and therefore large dams have been declared the bedrock of Pakistan’s agricultural economy & industrial base. Like Mangla dam, Tarbela dam.

In the case of Pakistan an effective regulatory framework for recruitment is required to protect intending migrants and to improve transparency.  Population is increasing at a faster rate then resources. People’s needs & wants are unlimited, while resources are scarce & limited and this leads to unplanned industrialization (eg, Motor way, or lyhari express way project) which results in displacement, ignoring all factors like environmental impact; pollution of smoke, water, noise and over all threat to nature.

There is a lack of national policy and absence of a law that can address the problem of the fare and timely compensation, rehabilitation, restoration of livelihood and participation of affected communities in decision making eg( Tarbela and Mangla dam affecties are still waiting for payments.). Inadequate funding is another problem in the resettlement policy. UN guiding principles on internal displacement are totally ignored. One of the major contours of this issue is lack of social organization process. Due to this the role of civil society is almost non existent.

Mostly women are the worst sufferers as gender disaggregated data are seldom available in any development project involving displacement. Even in getting cash compensation women are disempowered because they hardly handle cash or have control over financial resources. This further worsens the situation and leads to a disintegration of the social network of displaced communities and makes them more vulnerable. Even they can’t pursue their cases in getting compensation from concerned departments.

Where does the solution lie?

The government needs to have a final resettlement policy at all tiers, districts, provinces & federal.

A mechanism needs to be developed to deal with displaced people with clear concept to differentiate between refugees and displaced.

The role of civil society has to strengthen due to absence of comprehensive policy and legislation in Pakistan. Enhanced dissemination and understanding of UN norm and instruments relating to displaced communities is required among all stake holders.

Special initiatives have to be taken by the government for research advocacy and training / capacity building of the staff in displacement.

To conclude, as Gandhi said “Earth has natural resources to meet the need of the human race, but not its greed “. A cohesive, coherent and well planned policy is needed by the government to deal with these issues. By getting help from international organizations, by involving the community into decision making process, through awareness and advocacy campaign and after all this , a proper legislation has to be done for incorporating this through a permanent mechanism.



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.

by Tarangini Sriraman


Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury in his essay, “Uprooted Twice: Refugees From the Chittagong Hill Tracts” gives us a comprehensive and detailed overview of the multi-dimensional process of displacement of the people of Chittangong Hill Tracts (CHT). She outlines two main projects and one trend that the CHT people were victims of, namely, projects of (decolonisation and) nation-building, development and the trend of xenophobia. She foregrounds this essay with an encyclopaedic socio-political history and outline of the different religious affiliations of the indigenous people of CHT, making every effort to illustrate through this outline the distinctness as well as the commonalties of these people. The point of this historical introduction is to indicate that these were a people not amenable to easy amalgamation or initiation into a nation’s majority culture.

Before I discuss Sabyasachi Chaudhury’s narrative of the alienation of CHT people from their own land, I would like to explore what land can mean to any native people. When a people are recognized as natives of a land, they enjoy rights of domicile, monopoly of trade, often prior choice in education, unchallenged opportunities of employment and citizenship rights. The right to one’s own land is the right to not depend on an alien country’s hospitality, the right to not be hounded out by other residents, the right to enjoy claims of citizenship. All these rights were denied progressively and systematically, as the narrative of Sabyasachi Chaudhury unfolds. In my understanding, Chaudhury’s article does depict the CHT people’s conflict over land in the last resort, but this conflict over land translates also into conflict over autonomy, ethnic-cultural recognition and citizenship.

Whether they were victims of the policies of the Pakistani government, the Bangladeshi government or the xenophobia of the Indian people, the people of CHT were universally denied claims to land. Sabyasachi Chaudhury points out that if the Pakistani government did little to recognize that they desired to be given the status of natives in their own land, the CHT, the Bangladeshi government did all that it could to encroach on their land. The very act by Pakistan of annexing CHT was bound to translate into disrespect for existing ethnic arrangements and traditional rights to land. Besides removing CHT from the list of Tribal Areas whose residents’ claims to land were protected, the Pakistani government started a hydro-electric power project which resulted in the submerging of agricultural land and the mass exodus of many CHT people in 1964. In Sabyasachi Chaudhury’s view, the decisive blow to these people that turned them into refugees and alienated them from their land, was the Bangladeshi government’s initiative to move Bengali Muslims staying in the plains into the CHT. The experience of the CHT people that eventually forced them to leave their homeland at the hands of Pakistan and Bangladesh was first of religious nationalism, and in the latter case of linguistic nationalism. Sabyasachi Chaudhury asks a veiled question, if communal feeling and linguistic nationalism had stakes to land, how come indigenous, ethnic tribes lack them?

She tells us that from fighting an indigenous struggle for their own land, the Chakmas, Hajongs and other residents of the CHT were forced now to fight the refugees’ struggle for any land. This was true when they took the crucial decision to cross the borders of Bangladesh into North-East India. When it comes to these people’s struggle and their brutal treatment at the hands of people in the North East and particularly in Arunachal Pradesh, Sabyasachi Chaudhury shows sensitivity to a subtle point. If land was so important to the Chakmas and the Hajongs, it was equally important to the natives of Arunachal Pradesh. Hosting refugees invariably entails huge responsibility and generosity. Even if it may be true that the xenophobic tendencies of native residents in Arunachal Pradesh were fuelled largely by political parties and student movements, this task of parting with living space to so many refugees was certainly crucial and not easy for these residents. This said, the virulent actions that residents and the regional government there undertook to displace the refugees were inexcusable. These refugees’ housing needs in Arunachal Pradesh were constantly compromised to suit the fears of the Indian government vis-à-vis the regional government, strategy-dictated decisions (of recruiting Chakmas and Hajongs in the Indian Army), of the Arunachal Pradesh government’s determination to follow a protectionist course of action and an insensitivity displayed by all parties to refugee and human rights. When a window was opened for these refugees to return to their own land, some of them reluctantly did, only to live amidst strangers and accept unfriendly policies. In addition, their minimum demands of land restoration, withdrawal of Bangladeshi non-indigenous settlers from CHT and demilitarisation, much less job guarantees and financial help to re-acquire homes were never properly conceded by the Bangladesh government.

It has been the experience of the refugees of CHT that decolonisation and nation-building entail exclusions, statelessness entails landlessness and vice-versa. Driven away by Pakistan’s development projects, driven to India by Bangladesh’s massacres and settlement drives, driven once more away from India back to their one-time homeland, the CHT, these people have had perpetually to compromise on land, but contingently also on cultural recognition, autonomy and livelihood.

Lack of Control over resources have led to large scale displacement of women 

by Radha Adhikari


A woman's role and status in the society is largely defined by the terms governing marriage, conjugal relations and property in the countries of South Asia, most importantly the countries having stronger footings on the philosophy of "Manusmriti" in the Hindu mythology. We are living in a society wherein laws, social customs and traditions, some of which are of superstitious nature are deeply rooted.  It cannot be negated here that the women's limited ability to own, acquire and control the property is the product of historical, political, legal and social aspects within the society.

A family is the basic organizational unit forming the infrastructure for virtually all activities of the human life whether it is of economic, social or personal in nature. The male family head has the legal obligation to provide food and clothing for his wife, his dependent parents, his children and their families. By law and custom the wife has the right to food, clothing, a place in the home and control of certain defined types of property, which is absolutely voluntary in nature either from her parents or her husband as a result of which most of the time women are left out without any resources of her own. So women in this region are mostly living on the mercy of male members of our society at all stages of their lives that is upon father prior to her marriage, upon husband after her marriage and during the most productive age of her life and then upon her son at the later stage of her life. Therefore in order to retain her place, the law and the societal norms requires her to remain faithful like a servant and bear children without being physically or mentally disabled. In case she is unable to fulfill such standards of her life come whatever be the circumstances, she becomes susceptible to torture, beatings and even expulsion from her family whether with direct means or indirect means results displacement of women, take the case of Shefali in the book named "The marginal Nation" authored by Mr. Ranabir Samaddar. Thus about 80% of the displaced population in the world comprises of women and children. In addition to this, women, being the vulnerable members of the society, most of the wars and disturbances are hovered with huge number of cases of rape victims.

Consequently, men's control over the financial resources has been the vehicle of all forms of violence against women including the domestic violence. Hence in most cases women are forced to stay in abusive marriages because they would not be able to support themselves if they left the guardianship of men. To worsen the fact a women who lives outside the family i.e. a woman who is not defined and supported by her relationship to her father, husband or son is an alien concept in our society and even though if it exist in few cases, the society looks down upon them and accuses of having poor character.

The economy of the countries in this region lies in the agricultural products and thus women being the 50% partners of production and being themselves laborious in nature but coupled with minimal literacy rate are responsible for 60 to 70% of agricultural outputs. Thus women work out in the fields hand in hand with men and then return back home again to work there. Therefore women work three hours longer than their male counterpart i.e. approximately women work for eleven hours whilst men work for 8 hours a day. Such burdensome workload combined with generally poor health and limited access to resources brings about serious constraints in their health care, educational opportunities, access to information and all other necessary requirements to live a life with dignity.

In order to balance the deep rooted patriarchal norms the states should be paying attention to increase the women's literacy followed by supporting women's economic participation with access to resources either by means of state mechanisms like gender budgeting or availing them with the legal rights education through advocacy trainings and campaigns.

But all this is possible if the literacy rate of women is improved. Therefore the initial step is education of girl child and then the economic participation is seconded as this is the anchor of women's empowerment, thus enabling her to earn and own money which in turn facilitates her to play significant role in the household decision making. Legal reform is another factor to be attended to, but if it is adopted in a vacuum in the form of Acts and laws in legal instruments, it will remain in words and not in deeds. Therefore, such legal reforms should be involved with wide ranged consultations and by mobilizing public opinion as a whole. This is necessary for making the women aware of the rights as well as to understand legal and administrative process well enough to be able to exercise the available rights in true sense.



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?

by Rashmi Shetty


In the last one-decade the numbers of internally displaced persons (IDP) are on the increase in South Asia just as in many other parts of the world. Discrimination against minorities, violence, war, ethnic hatred, state repression, demands for self-determination, natural and man made disasters such as famines and floods, ill-conceived development projects such as highways and dams – all have contributed massively to internal displacement.

The phenomenon of globalisation has further aggravated the resource crisis by creating new demands for the resources and introducing private corporations with large financial resources. This has brought them in direct conflict with the communities who were early enjoying these resources and are now being handed over to private corporations by state for a price. One can see it, among others, from the extent of land most states acquire for private companies. As Meghna’s article on “Globalisation, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South Western Bangladesh demonstrates shrimp industries are not only taking up agricultural lands in the area but also of the Khas or government land by the roadsides, which by law, is to be distributed by the local government to the landless and also the important deprivation of grazing land. It goes on further to state that many women feel deprived of their rights land and therefore feel the need to put pressure on the Government.

At the same time, it has been observed that most of the displaced people remain women and children, and even when men are displaced, their displacement negatively impacts on the womenfolk. These groups are largely dependent on the common property resources (CPR) for their survival owned by the state. The area under CPR has been decreasing across South Asia because states has been using it for various developmental purposes at the cost of marginalized communities leading to conflict between state and people.

The Report of the Workshop on engendering resettlement and rehabilitation policies in programmes in India, on the session of Dynamics of Displacement explores the issues of deprivation and denial emanating from forced displacement by focusing on the loss of CPR’s for women. The Session by Walter Fernandes explains the impact of loss of people’s access to common property resources (CPR) because of displacement. According to the author CPRs should not be seen only as material assets. They constitute the livelihood of people, particularly poor people. He states that most dalit and tribal people are dependent on the CPRs and attempts to take away CPRs often have severe adverse impacts. Displacement involves a change from community ownership to individual ownership. He opines that such transformations often results in changes in the socio-economic position of women. The gender bias in R&R programmes is clearly evident in NALCO resettlement. More than 80 percent of the displaced families were given a job in the project. But then only 7 women got jobs. He concludes by stating that caste, class and gender should not be looked in isolation but should form a part of an integrated analysis.

The crux of the problem, regarding double blind that entraps displaced women is explained by Lyla Mehta. On one hand, male biases in society help perpetuate gender inequality in terms of unequal resource allocation and distribution and also legitimise silencing of women’s interests. On the other hand, biases within state institutions, structures and policies dealing with displacement and Resettlement and Rehabilitation help perpetuate these inequalities.

Further the report on the session ‘Experiences of displaced Women and Men’ captures that with the regard to land, women have no legal rights over lands or natural resources. Whenever tribal villages have been displaced or affected, women have been forced out of their land based work and pushed into menial and marginalised labour. In Jadugoda mines in Jharkhand the worst affected people are tribal women and children.

Under the above mentioned circumstances the trafficking of girls and women and forced prostitution is accentuated. This is captured by the story on “Shefali” in Marginal Nations. Dr. Ranabir captures the process of marginalization of women. Shefali seen as an illegal migrant had to face oppression from her family members, villagers, State, etc. The story also captures the many depositions of immigrant workers decision to emigrate due to ecological disasters which leads them to low wages, new insecurities, initial uncertainties in settling, harassment and sexual exploitation.



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 analyse how lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women?

by Salma Butt


Gandhi said, “Earth has the natural resources to meet the needs of human race but not its greed” and this too is a proven fact that today almost more than 1% of world population is displaced, out of which 80% constitutes women and their dependant children. South Asia is fourth biggest region in the world prone to displacement, due to rapidly growing population and limited natural resources on earth. The growth rate of population is much greater than the rate at which natural resources are stock up and allocated.  

how lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women? This question will be analysed in the following writing by pondering on the chapter titled “Shefali” in ‘The Marginal Nation’ a book written by Prof. Ranabir Samaddar an expert in issues of justice and human rights, 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 and Report on the Workshop on Engendering R&R involving the experts Lyla Mehta and Ravi.   

History reveals that the lack of control over resources in women’s part is obvious within and outside the domestic life. Generally, the factor lack of resources leads to the displacement of men, women and children. Women, though, experience such displacement in very specific ways. In the world today, large international and transnational companies are gaining greater control of the international market and global resources, the impact of degradation of the agricultural land due to natural disasters and abhorrently mishandled government projects, and thus the reduction in the resources on the local villagers, has been appalling in the coastal areas. The coastal communities, which had been living there since centuries, were forced to migrate by circumstances, as their key livelihood resources were completely swab.

In his, book `Marginal Nation’ Dr.  Ranabir Samaddar eloquently explained the  process of women marginalization in the chapter ‘Shefali’ by highlighting the causes of displacement and migration of poor women in Bangladesh based on data gathering from primary and secondary sources, regarding lost of their control on land and other resources. The portrait of `Shefali’ as a case presented in the book, obviously visualized a scenery of poor women’s condition in Bangladesh.

He further tells us about 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. It is vital when he says:

“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”

He kept on saying, the system of dowry for the poor women also treated as causes of a large-scale displacement of women. I also noticed from reading this chapter that the women migrating to other places or cross borders with a view; to safe guard their  families shelter, food, security and to give a better life to their girl children by getting them married, ironically, they tend to face even more drastic results in form of identity crises, forced labour, settling new social lives etc.

The traffickers take the deprived women away from their homeland, to an entirely new world by false promising of providing jobs, marriage and shelter, and put them into bonded sweat-shop labour, slave labour and forced prostitution. This is reflected in countless ways in the chapter. The uncertain married life of Shefali especially when her husband brought second wife at home from a comparatively privileged family, she was treated miserably by beatings and torture. Sheer lack of resources to survive at her end 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!” penniless 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.

Impacts of large-scale shrimp farming on women in southwestern Bangladesh,

Prof. Meghna Guhathakurta’s article highlights transition. During the time of transition from traditional survival on agriculture to an export orientated agro-based shrimp industry  how the people living in South-western Bangladesh, were deprived of a relatively fixed 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.

The Multinational Corporations, coupled with the support of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank occupied the land in those areas where subsistence peasant economy was used to be source of life, they shifted the land into shrimp cultivation. Gradual degradation of land cultivation through expansion of shrimp farming has not only affected the employment of poor people but has also pushed a number of poor, landless women to get involved in shrimp collecting from the river, which physically was dangerous for them due to reported presence of crocodile and sharks in the region. Being seasonal as well as risky in terms of labour and security those jobs are not easy to get as shrimp cultivators and the companies do not tend to use local labour for their farms and bring in employees form other regions. Hence, many men decided to migrate, leaving women behind, depriving them of male protection. This has meant loss of food, health, and income, causing large displacements of poor people.

Another consequence of the situation is that the poor women in this region 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. 

Historical role of a woman in household economy,

Women previously sent their cattle for grazing and poor family often earned income by looking after the livestock, which they could do as a part of their normal household works. Cattle rearing to poultry farming or kitchen gardening, all land-based livelihoods provided them the opportunity to add to household income. Now women feel deprived of their rights to the land being used for shrimp cultivation of that area.

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. As a consequence, these landless women sometimes were subjected to trafficking and sold to Pakistan, India, Middle East where they were forced to work as sex worker and housemaids.

Woman who faces inequalities in terms of resources and distribution, resettlement and rehabilitation policies and programmes

In the R&R report, it is revealed by presenters, Lyla Mehta and Ravi, the impact on women of the tie up between global capital and local economy, not only in terms of personal displacement but also by the migration of the men folk in search of employment because of the disruption of the traditional economy and employment patterns in villages and semi-urban situations. How women particularly are affected by developmental projects and resource policies? How policies can be and need to be framed with the gendered perception and with the participation of women in order to understand and learn ways to redress the problems particularly faced by them. 

One can see it, among others, from the extent of land most states acquire for private companies. The unmindful exploitation of resources and unregulated discharge of harmful chemicals and waste materials are contributing to the environmental degradation. All these factors are together contributing towards resource and environmental crisis leading to forced migration of people. In this unavoidable trap of migration and displacement by poor become marginalized; let us take a glance of on the sufferings mainly faced by women according to the R&R report.

The report reflects on typical circumstances under which women’s rights, their assets and their spheres of control are generally misunderstood by policy-makers, and there is a great deal of risk involved in the course of their resettlement. The report also establishes that resettlement and rehabilitation policies and programmes shows 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 and denied by the authorities, thus their compensation is visibly vacuumed for the resettlement and rehabilitation schemes.

The process of taking control of the resources 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.

The authors of the three articles are clearly demonstrating how the lack of resources leads to large scale displacement of women and simultaneously provide us a detailed survey of Globalization policies how they are depriving us of our basic rights to human development and our rights as women and as nations. Women deprived of economical resources are forced into insecure wage labour or to migrate how vulnerable women fall into the hands of traffickers unknowingly or agreeably. Finally, it also highlights 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 into the vicious circle of being marginalised.



Samaddar R (1999) ‘Shefali’ in Marginal Nation (Sage: New Delhi)

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




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.

by Sharifa Siddiqui


The people of the Chittagong Hills Tract has indeed suffered much trauma. As can be seen the first blow to their human rights was the denial of self-determination when the people of the Hills (CHT) wanted to accede to India.

This is yet another instance of historical mistake that the newly formed Indian government made. Perhaps it is very right that they were the sacrificial goats because of political reasons – that they were being given away in lieu of Sikh compacted lands nearer the Capital.

I would say that being far away from the Capital of the country in times when communications were not so efficient and infrastructures not so advanced too had much role to play. And take into reckoning that Sikhs are a much more vocal lot than the gentler Hills People.

They were forced to throw in their lot with Pakistan which subsequently became Bangladesh. Even then, till they were recognized as Tribal Area and their lands came under the category Excluded Areas, they still had control over their life conditions in spite of slow advances by mainland people into their areas.

At this stage it can be said that not only the Pakistan government, but also the ordinary people saw much to gain by taking over their lands. Subject to much suspicion by mainstream Bangladesh people and government, they have been a persecuted lot a people to be denied first of all by the Bangladesh government a proper deal when their land was taken over for the Kaptai Hydro electric Power Project over the Karnaphuli. How that could happen without proper compensation or without alternate lands is the whole saga of government hardheadedness.

With nowhere to go, the first influx of refugees (about 40,000) took place then in 1962. Their intention was to settle in Tripura where there was a degree of cultural affinity. Due to the Tripura government’s inability to accommodate this number, its asking other states for help resulted in the Indian government taking yet another significant decision with far reaching repercussions. Due to various political exigencies, the idea was mooted that they could be accommodated in what was then the NEFA territories. This was also basically protected areas of about 80 tribes. These hilly areas were sparsely populated and the government felt that it would be a good idea to temporarily shelter the Chakmas there. In 1987, the entire area was granted statehood and Arunachal Pradesh came into existence. Subsequently over the years many more families of Chakmas were directed to these areas. Local population of Arunachal Pradesh is now a total of 8.5 million and the Chakma population has now increased to 65,000.

The main grouse of the local people was that since AP was a protected area, since pre-independence period, the Chakmas should not have been settled in the area in the first place. The State also became party to it and forcible evictions of the refugees was not unheard of.

Yes, I do feel that the Chakma conflict is in essence a conflict over land. However, one must also keep in mind the dimension of human emotion, the fact that they had for decades enjoyed a privileged status and here come outsiders to share their resources, which can breed at the mildest resentment and at the worst genocide and ethnic cleansing.




On reading Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chaudhury’s “ Uprooted Twice: Refugees From Chitagong Hill Tracts” in Refugees and the State do you agree that conflict in CHT is in the last resort a conflict over land? 

by Suranjana Ganguly


Every conflict, according to the Marxist interpretation, is basically revolving around economic issues. This explanation is also applicable for the conflict of Chakma people with the state supported intruders of the plain of Bangladesh in Chittagang Hill Tracts region (CHT).Though the distinct socio-religious-cultural identity of the Chakma tribe was helped to sharpen this conflict. In his article “Uprooted Twice: Refugees From Chitagong Hill Tracts” in Refugees and the State, Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chaudhury shows that how the economic needs of the majority forced to displaced the Chakmas from their original homeland and made them refugee on the other side of the border. In his valuable discussion, the author also have discussed about the life and problems of these people in India and the politics revolving around them.

If we consider the history of East Pakistan and then the independent Bangladesh, we can see, unfortunately, that there has always been a trend of forced displacement of its minority; often, in the name of religious and ‘racial’ differences by the majority of the people. We can take the example of the millions of East Bengali refugees, mostly Hindu, sought asylum in Indian in the following years (except the few years of the regime of Mujib-ur-Rahaman) after the partition of 1947, who came without the minimum resources in the midst of the trauma of communal violence. However, the genuine reason behind that impatient attitude of the majority Bengali Muslim towards the Hindu minority were hunger for lands (as argued by Prafulla Chakraborty in his book ‘The Marginal Men’, pg no.7), century-long suppression by cast Hindu zamindars  upon Muslim peasants and the pressure of rehabilitation problem of Muslim migrants came from many parts of Indian subcontinent. The case of CHT was another example of economic compulsions and needs of the majority which is directly clash with the interest of the indigenous Chakma people.

The author shows that though the representatives of Chakma people wanted to join the Indian Union in the time of partition in 1947, but their appeal was ignored by Radcliff mission since they want to provide a hinterland for the economically important port Chittagang and the river Karnafuli of East Pakistan. Another opinion said that the CHT was the compensation against another Sikh compact region which had not included within West Pakistan. So, we can see, that from the beginning, the fate of the tribes of CHT was decided from the perspective of economic loss and profit of the newly independent states and not by the self interest or consent of the indigenous tribes.

Though the first two constitution of Pakistan (in 1956 & 1962) accepted CHT as an Excluded area and a tribal area, but in 1964 the National Assembly of Pakistan ignored the special status of CHT. This enables the non-indigenous people to enter and occupy the lands of the tribe. The first major forced migration happened when the Kaptai dam was built without considering about nearby arable lands of tribes. Around 40,000 of them, who were mainly Chakma, sought asylum to the North-east India.

The second important phase of forced migration was started in 1972, when the constitution of the newly independent Bangladesh did not include any provision of distinct identity and rights of the indigenous people of CHT. Primarily, it happened mainly because of the growing mutual misunderstanding and suspicion between Chakma people and the Bangladesh liberation army during the period of liberation war. The Chakma leaders tried to get cultural and political autonomy within the existing laws and constitution for the hill people but failed. This failure followed by the formation of Shanti Bahini (SB), which is basically the armed wing of Parbotto Chattogram Jana Samhati Samity (PCJSS). The clash between the SB and Bangladesh army were become regular when, in 1978, the Bangladesh government started a policy of settling plains people in the CHT regions with the help of military. Gradual militarization and Islamisation forced the hill people to cross the borders of India for the second time. This process was still continuing in 1990s. In 1992, through the pact between Indian Government and Bangladeshi Premier Begum Khaleda Zia, it was decided that both Government would support the repatriation procedure. But still now, the Bangladeshi government is unable to provide proper rehabilitations for the maximum numbers of hill people.

Now, if we try to find out the reasons behind these conflicts which caused large scale forced migration, we should consider the questions of strategic geo-political importance of CHT. Since the CHT has the common boundary with both India and Myanmar, it is a very crucial place for Bangladesh’s security. So it should be under the direct control of government for the sake of security. The other most important issue regarding this conflict is the issue of religious and cultural differences between the Bengali speaking Muslim majority of plains and the Buddhists tribes of CHT. Due to these differences, the government of Bangladesh could implement the strategy of ‘Bengalizing’ (‘Bangladesh: Displaced and Dispossess’ by Meghna Guhathakurta and Suraiya Begum in Internal Displaced In South Asia, Edited by Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chaudhury and Smir Kumar Das) and ‘Islamisation’ on the hill people to suppress their demands for autonomy, which put the hill people in a vulnerable condition.

So apparently, the distinct socio-religious identity of Chakma people and the process of ethnic cleansing by Bangladeshi Government represent that conflict as a racial or religious one. But, the question of rights over land intrinsically related with this matter. The Census (1961) of Pakistan shows that the total area of East Pakistan was 55000 sq kilometer., the total population was 41932329 (within which the total number of  Hindus were 9239603 and the Muslims were 32226639), the density of population was 761 people/square kilometer. This population density was certainly much more in the plain delta region of East Pakistan. Partha Chatterjee shows in “The Present History Of West Bengal: Essays In Political Criticism” (in Chapter 4, page number 46) that in 1977-78, the half of the peasantry of this agriculture centric country was landless or own only half an acre land, others held from 0.5 to 2 acre of land. Nearly 50% of the agrarian family in around the year of 1977 owned only 0.5 acres of land. Meghna Guhathakurta and Suraiya Begum show, that because of dense population of the delta region of Bangladesh the land is scarce there and for this, the government tried to resettle the poor landless peasants of the delta region in the CHT area   We have to remember that the CHT region contain 10% of the total land area of Bangladesh, and considerable portion (about 3.1% is suitable for agricultural use and 18.7% for horticultural use) of it is suitable for agriculture and a vast area of this region is forestry (72%). So form these statistics, it is clear that there is scarcity of land in Bangladesh and arable land is available in CHT area.

The conflict of PCJSS and Bangladeshi government begun with the issue of political autonomy of Chakma and other tribal people of CHT, but to suppress these demands, Bangladeshi government tried to change the demographic proportion forcefully and encourage the landless poor Muslim to move to this area from plain. The proportion of the non-indigenous people in CHT area is strikingly rising within 20-25 years. From 1970s to 1980s, around 70,000 Chakma refugee sought asylum in Tripura, India. When in 1980s, the international pressure compelled the Bangladeshi government to resettle the Chakma refugees in their original homeland it become a pertinent problem for them to move again the Bengali Muslim settlers form the hill area and to give rehabilitation to the Chakma people. Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chaudhury shows that till now the majority of Chakma people who repatriate to their original homeland have not got their lands back because the Government of Bangladesh was heisted to tackle the question of land rights. For these, still now the basic demands (eg. autonomy for the CHT, withdrawal of the Bangladeshi settlers from CHT and de militarization of the area) of PCJSS have not fulfilled by Government. Rather, there was a provision for the electoral representation of the settlers from the plain which meant the virtually recognition of their presence in CHT area.

So, even after the beginning of the repatriation process, the land question is still the central issue which is the main barrier in the path of the success of this process. As Meghna Guhathakurta and Suraiya Begum show that “The land issue remains at the core of the problem…”.Though the Bengali settlers have the legal paper certifying their ownership over the lands and the rights of the Chakma and the other tribal peoples over lands were not registered, but after the Peace accord the papers of the Bengali settlers became invalid. So as it made many of them landless again (according to the figures of the CHT task force some 38,000 Bengalis had become internally displaced in 2000), they refuse to give up their land rights and it created a static situation in this area.

Dr. Basu Roy Chaudhury concludes with the hope of building trust in between the conflicting opponents of CHT. If the matter in only related with the differences within two separate socio-cultural community it can be sorted out with long-term discussions and with spreading a strong sense of nationality. But here the reason is beyond the socio-cultural differences and related with the economic reasons, specifically with the question of livelihood, it seems more difficult to be solved. It seems that beside the process of trust building, the Government of Bangladesh should provide some alternative resource through which the matter of livelihood can be fulfilled.




Conflict in CHT is the last resort of a conflict over land

by Uttam Kumar Das


The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), which covers an area of 14,200 square kilometers, is situated in the south-east part of Bangladesh. It is a strategically important area for geo-political reason. It shares international borders with the Indian states of Tripura to the north, Mizoram to the east, and Chin and Rakhine states of Myanmar to the south-east and south.

The hill people are the original inhabitants in the CHT. They differ from the majority Bengali population of the plains in terms of race, religion and language. They (CHT people) are of Mongoloid, Tibeto-Burman, and Mon-Khamer origin and have similarities with their neighbours in north-east India and Myanmar and Thailand.    

The CHT now has a population of about 900,000 that is almost evenly divided between the Muslims settlers and the indigenous Buddhists. However, earlier the indigenous people were the majority. Even in 1991, the hill people constituted 51%.

For the purpose of the question, I do agree with the proposition that the conflict in the CHT is the last resort of a conflict over land. However, there are other contributing factors to the conflict.

In fact, the dispute over land is a significant reason for the rise of conflict in the CHT, however it is not the only reason. There are other reasons as well. These are existence of discriminatory state policy against the hill people (starting from the 1960s), lack of recognition of the distinct identity of the indigenous people living in the CHT in the Constitution of Bangladesh, militarization and Islamization in the area, and gross violations of human rights of the hill people.

With regard to human rights violation, incidents of 1986, 1988,1989, 1992 and 1993 are mentionable.

The CHT had a special administrative position during the British rule. In 1860, the British virtually divided entire hill tracts into three sub-divisions under the control of three tribes. In 1884, the CHT was divided into three administrative circles- Chakma, Bohmong and Mong. These three rulers are still recognized as autonomous entities. Local administrative matters are left to the indigenous people. 

The Government of India Act 1935 also designated the CHT as a Totally Excluded Area (also known as a Wholly Excluded Area).

First political disaster to the hill people of the CHT emerged when their territory was attached to the East Pakistan during the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947. Following years have experienced the implementation of successive measures that fueled discontent among the hill people. It started with the crackdown on anti-Pakistan demonstration in 1947.

The hill people saw the incorporation of the CHT by the colonial master with the then Pakistan in 1947 as an uneven partition of the Indian subcontinent. The post-colonial initiatives of nation building and development turned the hill people of the CHT into a community that would henceforth be forced to live in the form of a diaspora.

That is why at the turn of the 21st century, the area has been overrun by Bengali Muslim majority settlers from the over populated Bangladeshi mainland. On the other hand, the scattered group of the hill people had to survive under trying circumstances as refugees in Tripura, Mizoram and Aurunachal Pradesh in India.

The first Constitution of Pakistan adopted in 1956 did recognize the CHT as an Excluded Area. This status was upheld by the Constitution of 1962 as well. Then, the CHT was designated as a Tribal Area whereby any amendment to the administration of such areas required Presidential approval. But in 1964, the then National Assembly of Pakistan amended the list of Tribal Areas. Thus the CHT was removed from the list. So, the CHT no longer has the official recognition of being designated as a separate homeland for the indigenous people- as an Excluded Area and a Tribal Area as it previously had been. Therefore, it became open to settlement by people from outside the area. This enabled non-indigenous people to enter and acquire land in the CHT. Nevertheless, the CHT Manual still existed, the people from the plains did not indiscriminately populate the area.     

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh adopted in 1972 again did not include any provision acknowledging distinct identity of the indigenous people living in the CHT. The new state of Bangladesh was based on the idea on Bengali nationalism. It did not leave any scope for cultural or political autonomy for the hill people of the CHT. It was a great frustration for the hill leaders. This made the CHT people unhappy and which resulted in the war against the government for self-determination.     

The people of the CHT were uprooted twice from their traditional homeland. Firstly, as a result of the construction of the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli river in the 1960s, and secondly, in the 1980s, for the policy of successive military regimes of Bangladesh to encourage, directly and indirectly, people from the plains to settle in the hills. This policy was adopted in the wake of the movement for self-determination in the CHT. 

The 1997 Peace Accord put the conflict between the hill people under the banner of Shanti Bahini and military of Bangladesh in a halt.

The Accord promised the hill people for restitution of their land, greater participation in the government, and a reduction in the Bangladesh military presence in the CHT. However, many believe that the Accord has failed to reflect the genuine hopes and aspirations of the people of CHT and has failed to fulfill the main demands of the hill people until now.    

The land question, which is considered as the major cause for the repeated exodus of the people of CHT, continues to remain unresolved. The successive governments in power in Bangladesh seem reluctant to resolve the issues.


On reading “Development Induced displacement in Pakistan” in Refugee Watch 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 has led to large-scale dispossession and displacement of people.

by Walid Kenzari


People all over the world are being forced to leave their home for many reasons. The importance of this issue is increasing at the moment. There are approximately 25 million conflicts induced internally displaced persons (hereinafter IDPs) in the world today[1] and their number is increasing. The growing number of IDPs and the international concern for preventing massive refugee flows has brought this issue into debate. Disaster and development projects force millions of people to resettle off their livelihood.

“Atta ur Rehman Sheikh has been associated with the Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation (one of the national non-governmental organisations in Pakistan) as Regional Co-ordinator for the Political Education Programme since 1995. He is a member of the editorial board of Refugee Watch, a newsletter published jointly by the South Asian Forum for Human Rights, Nepal, and the Calcutta Research Group, India. A regular contributor to Refugee Watch, he is the author of “Internal Displacement in South Asia ” and a booklet in Urdu title “ Internal Displacement in Pakistan”. He has published various articles on refugees and displacement in national dailies. And worked on a report on displacement in South Waziristan, where the Pakistani army has launched a military operation against suspected terrorists.” [2]


Development-induced displacement (DID)

Internally displaced persons are often defined as those displaced by conflict, human rights violations and natural or man-made disasters. They also include those displaced by development projects. Each year, millions of persons are forcibly displaced by development projects, whether dams, expansion of transportation networks, reservoirs or oil, gas and mining projects. While such projects can bring enormous benefits to society, they also impose costs, which are often born by its poorest and most marginalized members. Backward communities and in particular people in tribal regions have been most affected in this process of development since they live in resource-rich regions.

Since independence, development projects, particularly dams, which are considered as signs of national progress and prosperity, have generated serious controversy in south Asia. Large dams have had serious impact on the lives, livelihoods, cultures and spiritual existence of indigenous and tribal people. Due to the negligence and the lack of capacity to secure justice because of structural inequities, cultural dissonance, discrimination and economic and political marginalisation, indigenous and tribal people have suffered disproportionately from the negative impacts of large dams, while often being excluded from sharing in the benefits. These costs are not balanced by any receipt of services from dams or by access to the benefits of ancillary services or indirect economic multipliers in the formal economy.

The two articles are a summary of the development-induced displacement in Pakistan due to the “Decade of Development”, after Pakistan’s independence to reach the economic growth and its actual economic development program “Vision 2025”. The author approaches also the lack of Resettlement and Rehabilitation policies from the Pakistani government- civil or military rule-, and from the different institution funds or foreign donor agencies – national or private  (World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Daewoo corporation) as well as from the civil society (NGO),

To illustrate the negative impact on the population, the author quotes four different examples on development project since the early 60s until now such as:  dams[3] and canal projects (Mangla, Tarbela,Kaptai,Ghasy-Barotha ,Kalabagh and Chashma Right Bank Canal) , the creation of the capital city and transportation network (The Islamabad Capital Territory Case and the National Motorway Network Project).  During these projects, land expropriations were applied under the 1894 Land Acquisition Act. With those examples, the author also wants to underline the inadequate situation between this colonial law, ”amended and updated differently in all four provinces”, and the actual consequences on the affected population like low cash and/or land compensations.

The author fills a gap in lack of information on the subject of DID in Pakistan. After reading the two articles we can clearly understand the situation of DID. We know that Pakistan is host to a large number of IDPs not only induced by armed conflicts or natural disaster, like the last earthquake or by infighting (e.g.Waziristan). These events were given a lot of coverage unlike the consequences of various large-scale development projects in order to stand among the Newly Industrializing Countries.

The different examples are well informed with empirical data. He demonstrates each example through the locality, construction dates, total amount spent on the construction, all the consequences, the number of people displaced, the Government’s roles, the donors and civil society implication.

[1]“Pakistan: Development and Disaster” in Internal Displacement in South Asia,p62.

[2] Anthropology of the Middle East, Vol.1, No.1, Spring 2006 © Berghahn Journals.

[3] “Pakistan has built 81 large, medium and small dams across the country since 1947.” Ibid p64.