Mining Governance in India: Questioning the Neoliberal Agenda
The rise and consolidation of the neoliberal project in India has implied, inter alia, a process of privatisation of mineral resources. This process has been accompanied by the rise of a new governance framework for the mining sector. If, on the one hand, the legislative framework for mining has been progressively revised in order to align mineral policy with the global market-oriented reform process, on the other hand, the principles of social and environmental sustainability have been progressively internalised. The aim of this chapter is twofold. Firstly, it seeks to provide a critical analysis of the analytical terrain underlying such a recent drive towards sustainability, where mining-related ecological and social issues appear to be fundamentally dealt with as ultimately technical issues, devoid of political significance. Secondly, it expands the understanding of mineral resource governance by providing a stylistic account of the actual processes of neoliberal resource management in one of the most important Indian mineral states, namely the state of Odisha. The chapter highlights the way in which this process appears to respond to different demands expressed within the realm of capital at a local, national and international level, as well as to reproduce the unfolding of uneven development dynamics. In so doing it brings into question the supposed social neutrality of the neoliberal agenda for the mining sector, while recognising at the same time the crucial importance of a nuanced understanding of the social power relations underlying the processes of resource exploitation within the neoliberal turn of capitalism.
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