You are on page 1of 6

INDIAN SEZs: DEVELOPMENTAL CAUSED DISPLACEMENT AND ITS NEGATIVE IMPACT ON WOMEN

Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. - John Rawls2 "If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of the country." - Jawaharlal Nehru Most developing countries in the world have recognized the importance of facilitating international trade for the sustained growth of the economy and increased contribution to the GDP of the nation. As part of its continuing commitment to liberalization, the Government of India has also, since the last decade, adopted a multi-pronged approach to promote foreign investment in India. The Government of India has pushed ahead with second-generation reforms and has made several policy changes to achieve this objective. Special Economic Zone means a specified region in a state that has liberal economic laws in comparison to the state's typical economic laws. SEZs help in the economic and industrial growth of a country and this is the reason that the government of India is encouraging the setting up of more and more SEZs in the country. It is also being envisaged that some of the existing Export Processing Zones would be converted into Special Economic Zones. The SEZ policy was first introduced in India in April 2000, as a part of the Export-Import (EXIM) policy of India. The policy provides for setting up of SEZ's in the public, private, joint sector or by State Governments, unlike most of the international instances where zones are primarily developed by governments. Under this policy, one of the main features is that the designated duty free enclave to be treated as foreign territory only for trade operations and duties and tariffs. No license required for import. The manufacturing, trading or service activities are allowed. Exemption from Central Sales Tax and Service Tax is given. Income tax exemption for a block of 10 years in 15 years is provided. Profits allowed to be repatriated without any dividendbalancing requirement. To provide a stable economic environment for the promotion of Export-import of goods in a quick, efficient and hassle-free manner, Government of India enacted the SEZ Act, which received the assent of the President of India on June 23, 2005. The SEZ Act and the SEZ Rules, 2006 (SEZ Rules) were notified on February 10, 2006. The SEZ Act is expected to give a big thrust to exports and consequently to the foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into India, and is considered to be one of the finest pieces of legislation that may well represent the future of the

industrial development strategy in India. The new law is aimed at encouraging public-private partnership to develop world-class infrastructure and attract private investment (domestic and foreign), boosting economic growth, exports and employment. Special economic zones in India have always been controversial. With a slew of fiscal incentives and other concessions made available for setting up these zones, there was a virtual race among India's top companies to seek necessary approvals from the government and jump the SEZ bandwagon. After the initial hiccups in March 2000, when Murasoli Maran announced the new policy regarding tax-free enclaves, the concept of an SEZ and its implementation seemed to sail in calm waters. But soon, with farmers experiencing dispossession of their land and political parties exploiting the plight of the farmers for their own political ends, the discussion became more heated, leading to a host of protests. Large tracts of land were handed over to companies so that they could set up their units under the SEZ scheme. In several cases, farmers and their families had to give up their cultivable land so that the government-approved zone could come up in an area. Often the government acquired such land at ridiculously low prices fixed under the law and then sold that to the company setting up the zone at below-market prices. Initially, there was no policy on rehabilitating and resettling those who were displaced by such land acquisition. Keeping in view learning from other countries, the Indian SEZ model also envisages a minimum size of 1000 hectares. Minimum area of 1000 hectares will not be applicable to product specific and port/airport based SEZs Land, especially agricultural land in India, is a very delicate subject and has been an emotive issue. Land is the livelihood of millions of people. Not only, are the immediate owners of the land affected, but also sharecroppers or daily wage laborers who eke out their living through a scant, but reasonably reliable source of income. The interests of the developers wishing to set up an SEZ could not be more diametrically adverse. They need large tracts of contiguous land to establish export-orientated production zones, thereby causing the need to acquire land from those who make a living from it. The acquisition of large tracts of agricultural land in the villages, not only violate the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, but also it is in breach of the public interest. This land acquisition results in the displacement of human beings, who are known by the nameProject Affected Person (PAP) by R&R Policy and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) by human right organizations and Development-Induced Displaced Persons by stake holders of SEZs. Displacement is seen as the result of a model of development that enforces certain technical and economic choices without giving any serious consideration to those options that would involve the least social and environmental costs.

Most displacement has been involuntary. There has been very little meaningful participation of affected people in the planning and implementation of the project, including the resettlement and rehabilitation aspects. The displaced and other affected people have often been the last to receive any meaningful information on the project. What information they have received has typically been limited and provided very late in the planning and implementation of mitigation measures. The numbers of both directly and indirectly affected people have frequently been underestimated, and there has been an inadequate understanding of the exact nature and extent of the negative effects involved. The Development-induced displacement can be defined as the forcing of communities and individuals out of their homes, often also their homelands, for the purposes of economic development. Also there is no absolute consensus as to when to stop considering someone an internally displaced person. At the international level, it is viewed as a violation of human rights. While no international convention on the rights of internally displaced persons exists, they enjoy the same human rights as all other people within their own country of citizenship or residence. These rights may be articulated in the domestic constitution and legislation as well as international human rights instruments and customary law. The effects of displacement spill over to generations in many ways, such as loss of traditional means of employment, change of environment, disrupted community life and relationships, marginalization and Food Insecurity, Health problems and Illnesses, Social and Cultural Risks, a profound psychological trauma and more. Although scholars and policymakers have recognized the need for new forms of interventions, gender aspects of displacement and rehabilitation remain mostly unexamined in the empirical literature, which largely assumes that womens and mens experiences of displacement and rehabilitation processes are similar. This paper is focused on women issue of displacement, which has not received its due consideration. Women play a vital role in the Indias social, cultural, economical and political scenario. From being an influencing figure in childs socialization process to an efficient small scale entrepreneur in rural India, to a housewife who contributes to the progress of community by actively participating in community based organizations. Forced displacement by development projects seriously affects the well-being of women communities, revealing mixed and varied outcomes. It surely provides opportunity for female employment and skill formation, thus providing social security to a vulnerable community. But at the same time there are some more destructive effects of displacement, which depend on its duration, but immediate manifestations include family separations, exposure to gender violence, trauma associated with the deaths of family members, impaired health, and the loss of the home and possessions. Displacement may affect womens rights to inherit land and property. Over time, the cumulative effects of personal loss may result in depression and physical deterioration. Posttraumatic stress syndrome is a common ailment among women who have been displaced for more

than a few months. The long-term impact of displacement on women may mean the permanent loss of social and cultural ties, the termination of career and regular employment, and disruption or loss of educational opportunities. Some marriages do not survive the stress of displacement. There are also instances of rape cases in the temporary rehabilitation camps. Children suffer most when displacement spans periods of several years. They miss education during their formative years, undergo immeasurable trauma and psychological stress, suffer stunted growth due to extended poor nutrition, and have difficulties in socialization. 1. Changing gender roles Displacement changes gender roles as families become separated, and homes are destroyed. When such events occur, women may become heads of families and find themselves forced into unaccustomed roles and responsibilities for which they are ill prepared. The IDP camps in which women and children seek refuge present a lifestyle alien to their cultural values and in this unfamiliar social context gender roles change radically. Womens vulnerability to sexual exploitation, domestic violence, and rape increases as gender roles shift. Domestic violence is often the outcome of gender role reversals when men normally the providers for their families face the idleness and humiliation of IDP life. The stress, uncertainty, and deprivation can cause men to take out their frustrations on their families. 2. Breakup of families The loss of social support systems and community solidarity experienced when rural people are displaced and moved to urban centers may cause families to break up. Families that lose their social networks of support often lose everything. Men may be unable to find work or may become involved in the conflict leaving the woman responsible for the household. Often an unaccustomed role for which she may be ill prepared. Women separated from their husbands or widowed must take on the responsibilities of providing for the household. IDPs from rural areas must adapt to living in an urban environment, and often find only menial or degrading work. 3. Loss of access to common property resources: Access to land, forest, river, sea, fisheries, cattle, grazing land and other common property resources, which support subsistence livelihoods and provide greater security against risk of poverty to women. In addition, women have the responsibility of collecting fuel, wood, fodder, and minor forest produce and water for their family. As women have no rights on these resources, thus, their loss of access to these resources is seldom focussed upon when displacement takes place. Whenever, these resources are often not replaced during resettlement with women often bearing a disproportionate share of the resulting costs. 4. Lack of sanitation facilities: Sanitation is a major problem specific to displaced women. A study on the impact of displacement (in Orissa) reveals that (NALCO has) rehabilitation provided housing without toilet facilities to the displaced persons. [Thus, they were forced to use a plot that the neighboring village had set aside for pasture. Quarrels were
frequent and they were mainly between women (Fernandes and Raj, 1992). Similarly, the women in Singrauli, who had earlier gone to the forests, without alternative sanitation facilities provided to them, now had nowhere to go. The women of Kohadia said sanitation was a major problem. An embarrassing experience every day. There were no toilet, no forest and no fields. Since they did not receive agricultural land in exchange for land lost.] This makes their lives physically uncomfortable. It also

makes them more vulnerable to physical and sexual harassment [Similarly, the study of impact of

displacement on people by Balaji Pandey (1998a) in seven projects in Orissa such as Rengali Irrigation Project, Upper Kolab dam project, Talcher coal mining projects, Ib valley coal mining projects, NALCO, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and Ib Thermal Power Station found that] Also some resettlement colonies provides very little housing land, which

results in overcrowding, loss of privacy and proper sanitation; thereby women were worse affected during call of nature. 5. Loss of livelihoods and marginalization of women: It has been seen whenever there is unemployment arising out of displacement, i.e. jobs are scarce, and women are the first ones to lose. This is not only because they lack the skill, but more because they have to make way for the men. Jobs are scarce in a displacement situation, because most projects have very limited number of jobs to offer to the affected people. Given the situation of landlessness, much reduced land assets, joblessness of the men, and impoverishment, it becomes imperative that women work. The traditional occupations, such as agriculture, fishing, basketmaking etc. become unfeasible, either because of unavailability of raw material, or due to the dispersion of the customers as a consequence of the breakdown of the community network. As a result, the women find that they have to settle for unskilled wage labor which is most often irregular and underpaid. 6. Decline in social status: The loss of access to common property resources and loss of livelihoods due to loss of access to resources and other avenues of income results in decline in the status of women in the family and society. Consequently, the authority and right in decision-making that the women enjoyed within the family due to their position as income-earners get weakened. Women of both large and small agricultural farmer families have little to do at their domestic front after the land acquisition for the project. They do not have enough paddies to process and distribute. They could not celebrate most of their religious functions since the rituals were all related to agriculture. They could not keep the larger community ties through the horizontal exchange of foodstuff, most of which is rice based. This was true for all age groups. In short, their contribution to the family economy, whether they worked as agricultural laborers, or managers of paddy inside the house, cannot be replaced with anything else. 7. Deteriorating health status: Given the high mortality rates among women, it is likely that they will be the worst affected by displacement-induced morbidity. Similarly, the nutritional and health status of the women which is lower than that of the men even under normal circumstances is bound to be proportionately gone down in the event of an overall decrease in the health status caused by displacement. 8. Problem of marriage of daughters: (The study by Balaji Pandey (1998a) in seven projects in Orissahas found out that) Girls have been married off early among the displaced families due to the availability of ready cash, which is paid as dowry, through compensation against their land being acquired by the project. Dowry rates also increases, as a result of which some families find it difficult to get their daughters married.

9. Rise in alcoholism and increase in violence against women: As consequences of displacement there will be rise in social disturbances reflected by alcoholism, prostitution, gambling and theft. This increase in social problem is bound to affect directly the lives and status of women by way of violence inflicted on them. Increased alcoholism markedly increased domestic violence. As men face powerlessness, women become scapegoats. 10. Psychological Trauma Displacement also has a psychological dimension as women face mental stress after their displacement. Pressures are related to the uncertainty of residence, the responsibility of rebuilding livelihoods, increased joblessness and resultant idleness, increased drinking by husbands, wifebeating and domestic violence including quarrels, and the shock and trauma of losing the few assets that they had possessed. The stress of adjusting to a new location is not easy to cope with; the frustrating impacts on women may result in sleeplessness, becoming short-tempered, feeling tense, and depressed.
To conclude women are the worst victims of development-induced displacement. The problems of displacement are enormous for them. It is also clear from the foregoing discussions that whatsoever policies made applicable for the rehabilitation of the displaced people in the country, those policies do not accord equal status to the displaced women at par with their male counterparts. Given that the country has pledged to ensure equality to women and promised not to discriminate against them on the basis of sex, it is imperative that all policies, plans and laws imbibe the ideology that emanates from the Constitution and various UN declarations and conventions that India has ratified.

(domestic help for the higher ups of the factories Small scale industries, entrepreneurs)