About the Lecture
In recent times, attempts to protect the one-horned Indian rhinoceros in Assam has led to an uncritical celebration of militaristic conservation efforts, often at the expense of lives and livelihoods of the agrarian poor who live alongside animals in the park. In my talk, I argue that those perceived to be poachers have for long been marginalised by developmental policies that had encouraged impoverishment of the rural economy. The government’s current attempts to protect the rhino by creating an aggressive, tourist-oriented conservation regime is predicated upon escalating tensions between peasants with small landholdings and a class of entrepreneurs who stand to gain from such militarised protection of wildlife. In the long run, however, only a comprehensive cadastral survey that leads to assurances of equitable land use and ownership rights to the marginalised poor, will ensure the survival of animals and humans around national parks in Assam.
About the Speaker
Sanjay Barbora is currently the Dean, School of Social Sciences and Humanities at TISS Guwahati. A social anthropologist by training, he is deeply interested in issues of agrarian change, media and urban studies. He has been associated with the human rights and civil liberties movement in Assam since 1995. In bleak times, he feels that the only hope for the future is the expansion of community radio stations across the country.