By Prof. Arupjyoti Saikia, Post-Doctoral fellow at the Yale Agrarian Studies Program, Associate Professor of History, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati India
The Indian state is on an ambitious program to transform an ‘idyllic’ waterscape in the Brahmaputra river valley as the country’s future power house. Behind this grand ambition lies an uneasy and critical relationship of the modern Indian nation-state with the country’s river systems. The dynamics of this uneasy relation go back to earlier times. But it began to surface more acutely in the last two hundred years as the colonial government redefined its relationship with the south Asian rivers. The colonial state’s infatuation with the Indian rivers did not impact much the Brahmaputra and its valley till the beginning of the 20th century. Early in the 20th century, after long wait and speculation, it was time for some decisive action to make the river and its valley more meaningful to the British Empire. These schemes however changed the river’s relation with the floodplain permanently. The contemporary Indian state’s ambitious river valley projects, seemingly aimed at improving the condition of Valley, ignore the historical complexities.
Arupjyoti Saikia is a post-doctoral fellow at the Yale Agrarian Studies Program and an Associate Professor of History in the Department of Humanities and Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati India. His research is on the environmental and political history of the Indian state of Assam. His current book project is on the Environmental History of the river Brahmaputra and its Valley. His last publication was Forests and Ecological History of Assam, 1826-2000 (Oxford University Press, Delhi 2011). His new book A Century of Protests: Peasant Politics in Assam since 1900 (Routledge, Delhi) is due in 2012. He also regularly writes in Assamese.
Light refreshment will be served.
Sponsor(s): Center for India and South Asia
© 2013. The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.