People's Car studies divergent populist responses to land acquisition for industries in rural India. It contends that landownership enables small landowners to aspire and look forward to social mobility in the non-farm sector, which are contingent upon industrialization. The protests against land acquisition, thus, have contradictory tendencies.
India is witnessing a unique moment in populism, with sentiments divided between economic reforms that promise fast industrialization and protests that thwart such industrialization. This book offers an ethnographic study of divergent local responses to the proposed construction of a Tata Motors factory in eastern India that would have produced the Nano, the so-called people's car. Initial excitement was followed by long protests against the factory, and then, after its relocation, by further demonstrations seeking to bring it back. Taking this ambivalence as a way past romantic cliches about urban/rural divisions, People's Car offers a single analytical framework demonstrating how pro- and anti-industrialization forces feed off each other.
Sarasij Majumder is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Kennesaw State University.