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The Land Question in IndiaState, Dispossession, and Capitalist Transition$
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Anthony P. D'Costa and Achin Chakraborty

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198792444

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198792444.001.0001

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How Much Land Does a Capitalist Need?

How Much Land Does a Capitalist Need?

Historical Patterns of Land Acquisition and Indian Industrialization

(p.265) 11 How Much Land Does a Capitalist Need?
The Land Question in India

Mircea Raianu

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines patterns of land acquisition in the establishment of two enterprises that obtained the status of proto-national industries before independence in 1947: the Tata hydro-electric power companies in the Western Ghats, and the Tata Iron and Steel Company at Jamshedpur. The chapter comparatively shows how the legal instruments of dispossession varied according to the distribution of power, arguing that the entry of Indian capital in the industrial sector in the early twentieth century made possible two seemingly contradictory but mutually constitutive trends: the legal designation of private capital as capable of fulfilling a “public purpose,” and the increasingly direct involvement of the state in resource capture and management for the purpose of industrial development. The chapter uncovers the origins of key aspects of the “land question” in India, including the predominance of domestic over foreign capital, the enabling role of the state, and the persistence of surplus labor.

Keywords:   land acquisition, public purpose, Tata hydro-electric power, private capital, industrial development, surplus labor

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