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3 - In Search of ‘Basmatisthan’: Agro-nationalism and Globalization

from Part One - Economy and Agriculture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2012

Denis Vidal
Affiliation:
French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), Paris
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Summary

Every society has to decide on the degree of reforms it may accept by opening itself to others. It is a choice that is greeted with more or less optimism and anxiety depending on cultural and historical circumstances.When the balance is tilted in favour of anxiety, what might at other times have been considered an opportunity worth seizing begins to take on the character of threat or inescapable fate. And when it comes to discussions of globalization, however sophisticated they might appear, much of what is written is simply a reflection of the deepening sense of unease felt with this sort of dilemma.

There can be few other domains in which such anxiety is so palpable as the domain of agriculture; where what is presented as defence of tradition may be easily confused with the invention of new identities, new natural species and new definitions of place. This may be partly due to the curious fact that even the greatest enthusiasts of hybridity in other domains of culture seem considerably less willing to embrace this doctrine when it comes to the issue of what they eat. But it no doubt has even more to do with the actual inability to decide, in all sincerity, what is the most desirable path for developing countries: to stick to the policy of localism, the defence of traditional agricultural practices, and self-subsistence, or to recognize the limitations of such a strategy, concurring with Amartya Sen's view that ‘food self-sufficiency is a peculiarly obtuse way of thinking about food security’ (2002).

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Chapter
Information
Globalizing India
Perspectives from Below
, pp. 47 - 64
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2005

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