Reconciling indigenous rights and transparent governance: questioning policy responses to black-market diamond sales in Panna, India

Authors: Sindhuja Sunder*, University of Delaware, Saleem Ali, University of Delaware
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Ethnic Geography, Development
Keywords: Gond people, informal mining, diamonds, bureaucracy, governance
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


Diamond mining in the Panna region of central India occurs in two ways: formally (mechanized and run by the National Mineral Development Corporation), and informally (manual mining of alluvium and gravel by peasants, tribal populations, Dalits, or casual migrant workers). Diamonds found by informal miners, the majority of whom are members of the local Gond tribe, must be turned over to the district treasury for evaluation and eventual auction; the state retains a royalty of 20% of the sale price, and the remaining revenue, following an income tax deduction, is paid to the finder. Illegal diamond sales directly to jewelers or middlemen representing jewelers are a growing problem in Panna. Thus far, archival and secondary research suggest that Gondi miners engage in illegal mining as a form of resistance, whether direct or indirect, against the conditions of their marginalization. This poster presents planned fieldwork to determine and analyze governmental response to both black-market diamond sales and the growing call for greater protection of indigenous, marginalized populations. Findings will hinge on mapping the pathways of diamond sales from a policy analysis perspective to establish the existing regulatory nexus as well as the gaps in enforcement. The research will aim to consider how traditional economies can be formalized through policy reform and how new norms of transparency can be configured to respect indigenous needs.

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