From Shangri-la to de-facto SEZ: land grabs from 'below' in Sikkim, India

Mona Chettri

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8 Citations (Web of Science)


Sikkim in north-eastern India is a small border state strategically located between China, Nepal and Bhutan. Two decades of state-led investment in infrastructural development and private investment in hydropower and pharmaceutical industries has transformed Sikkim from a remote border state to a de-facto Special Economic Zone (SEZ) where incursions by private capital are masked under state-led development policies. The profusion of pharmaceutical factories and the concomitant corporate land grabs have led to the recalibration of peoples relations with land and the creation of a new layer of rural poor. The paper focuses on Setipool slum, east Sikkim located near two pharmaceutical factories to demonstrate the ways corporate land grabs have altered the relationships between people, land and the state in expected and unexpected ways. Ambiguous land rights and the establishment of pharmaceutical factories have led to spatially contained land booms in Setipool which replicate nexuses of illegality, claim-making and exclusions that are characteristic of corporate land grabs. Land grabs and different forms of intimate exclusions that have emerged within the slum challenge prior assumptions around local responses to corporate incursions and illustrates how even without dispossession, commodification of land can lead to different forms of access and exclusions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


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