Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Understanding „culture‟ of pastoralism and „modern development‟ in Thar: Muslim pastoralists of north- west Rajasthan, India

Ghai, Rahul (2021): Understanding „culture‟ of pastoralism and „modern development‟ in Thar: Muslim pastoralists of north- west Rajasthan, India. Published in: Pastoralism Research Policy Practice , Vol. 11, No. 11:3 (27 February 2021): pp. 1-19.

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Abstract

Abstract The paper attempts to understand relation between pastoral cultures and irrigation based intensive farming regimes promoted by modern development represented by the Indira Gandhi Canal (IGNP) in western Rajasthan. Participant observation and development practice engagement with pastoral communities over last three decades gives opportunity to reflect on epistemic rationality that constitutes the discourse of modern development, formal statecraft of technocracy and rule by experts. Historical markers of pastoralism in the interconnected regions of north-west Rajasthan and bordering regions of Multan and Bahawulpur in Pakistan are situated to trace the longuee duree of pastoral life systems in Thar. This oscillation between enhanced moisture regimes following inundation and increased desiccation of a moisture deficient arid region has been at the core of sustaining culture of pastoralism among semi nomadic pastoralists of Muslim communities in north- west Rajasthan. The IGNP canal produces a space for modern development that opens up irrigated farming and an intensive natural resource use regime. This political economy of the IGNP canal systematically marginalizes pastoral natural resource use that was ecologically embedded. The varied experiences of adaptation responses of pastoral communities to this state led marginalization points to the tenacious ability of pastoralism to continually adapt to the radically changing ecology. The paper argues for a complementarity of pastoral and farming use as an inclusive development vision. Begininnings can be made with a compassionate engagement with cultures of pastoralism that are endowed with resilience rooted in a historically constituted rationality to adapt, innovate with changing times. This may hold cues for a sustainable future of Thar.

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