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Real estate politicians in India

Sai Balakrishnan and Narendar Pani
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Sai Balakrishnan: Harvard University, USA
Narendar Pani: National Institute of Advanced Studies, India

Urban Studies, 2021, vol. 58, issue 10, 2079-2094

Abstract: This article uses as its entry point the empirical phenomenon of what we call ‘real estate politicians’ in India; that is, politicians whose main source of wealth is real estate. We argue that the rise of real estate politicians is situated within deeper processes of ‘labour voter contradictions’ in low-wage democratic societies of the global south. On the one hand, countries like India largely compete in the global economy based on their cheaper labour costs, but on the other hand, the condition of electoral democracy makes it imperative for politicians to meet the consumption, including housing, needs of their low-wage but electorally mobilised labour voters. As real estate politicians mediate the negotiated access of unorganised and surplus workers to informal land and unauthorised housing, the delinking of housing struggles from labour struggles leaves processes of capitalist agglomeration unchecked. This, we argue, blunts the potential of land struggles to emerge as sites of radical labour politics.

Keywords: agglomeration/urbanisation; globalisation; governance; informality; land use; é›†è š/城市化; å…¨ç ƒåŒ–; æ²»ç †; é žæ­£è§„æ€§; 土地使用 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1177/0042098020937917

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