Socio-Environmental Movements in India

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NUPI | DECEMBER | 07
271On New Social Movements and ‘The Reinvention of India’
Forum for Development Studies | No. 2-2007
On New Social Movements
Alf Gunvald Nilsen
RCUK Fellow at the Centre forthe Study of Social and Glo-bal Justice, School of Politicsand International Relations,University of Nottingham and ‘The Reinvention of India’
Abstract
The focal point of this article is the role of new social movements in the process whichhas been denoted as ‘the reinvention of India’, and in particular, the way in which the politics of these movements is analysed and represented in academic perspectives. Twoareas form the focus of the discussion: firstly, the assertion that India’s NSMs representvoices of ‘otherness’ emanating from beyond the postcolonial development project andarticulating a rejection of this project, and secondly, the argument that NSMs in Indiaare most likely to have a positive impact upon the situation of marginalised subalterngroups if they seek empowerment through the liberal democratic state. The discussionis carried out in the light of empirical data from the author’s research on the movementagainst dam-building on the Narmada River. Keywords

: India, social movements, postcolonial development project, post-develop-ment, state power 1. Introduction
On 26 January 2003, the National Alliance of People’s Movements(NAPM) – an India-wide network of social movements – launchedthe Desh Bachao, Desh Banao Abhiyan
(DBDBA, Save the Na-tion, Build the Nation Campaign) in Plachimada in Kerala. After a two-month long march, the campaign ended in Ayodhya in Ut-tar Pradesh where a National People’s Agenda was declared. Thecampaign – including the location of its beginning and conclusionand the agenda that was declared – is very telling in terms of theconvulsions that are currently transforming Indian society. The National People’s Agenda (NPA) starts as follows: The Abhiyan was launched on January 26, 2003, from Plachimada(Dist. Palakkad) in...
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