Inter-State Competition, Land Conflicts and Resistance in India
Oxford Development Studies
Literature on fiscal federalism has long debated whether inter-jurisdictional competition between subnational units encourages a “race to the bottom”, with competition to attract mobile capital leading to lower taxation and expenditure, and, consequently, the under-provision of public goods. The principal concerns of this literature have been taxation and expenditure, but the ability of state governments to acquire land for industry is also critical in the context of subnational competition. In this article, the authors ask how Indian state governments resolve the tensions arising from their dual role as both wooer and regulator of capital, as they simultaneously facilitate land acquisition and engage with movements that challenge it. The authors demonstrate that there is no simple “race to the bottom”. Inter-state competition has not produced a simple equation in favour of capital and a side-lining of the concerns of those displaced. Subnational approaches to land acquisition must be understood within local political, social and economic contexts.