Emerging Geographies of Rural Gentrification in India: A case study of Bolpur, West Bengal

Authors: Dhiraj Barman*, Presidency University
Topics: Rural Geography, Development, Asia
Keywords: rural transformation, gentrification, alienation, West Bengal, India
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Rampart, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In Indian context ‘gentrification’ research has not gained much attention as a process of rural transformation. 'Gentry’; in the Indian version of ‘babu’ or ‘bhadralok’-culture ( i.e. the culture of ‘urban elite’) is deeply entrenched in the society. It is argued that the idea of ‘bhadralokikaran’ i.e. the elitist development has gradually shaping many rural societies in India, where the rural space is modified as per the need of the elite communities by silently alienating the native people. The present paper explores one of such case. Bolpur is of one of the most attractive tourist destinations of West Bengal, India. It is known for the Rabindranath Tagore's Santiniketan, Visva-bharati; its rich cultural heritage, handicrafts, and the place's bucolic beauty. Over the period of time, rural Bolpur has not only attracted tourists but has gradually shaped for the elite Bengali communities. Gradual land grabbing for luxurious residences, apartments, resorts, hotels/guest houses, villas, butiks, restaurants etc. has increased. It causes alienation of natives (tribes and low caste people) of the region on the top and one can evident absentee landlordism, empty luxurious houses, and apartments, rising land values that changes the spatial as well as social and economic fabric of the region. The study considers mixed research methods, thus focusing on both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. It uses the primary data collected from the rural areas surrounding Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan in Bolpur. Thus, the paper attempts to unfold a new aspect of gentrification led rural transformation in India.

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