Institute for Social and Economic Change
Working Paper: 324
Reflecting on the Role of Institutions in the Everyday
Lives of Displaced Women: The Case of Ganga-Erosion
in Malda, West Bengal
One of the major fallouts of the new development paradigm in India is the huge displacement of human population. In the wake of this, the government has come up with the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy. But the policy has failed to address most of the crucial issues of resettlement and rehabilitation, especially concerning gender. One important but often ignored reason behind this is the inadequate attention given to various local institutions that play a very crucial role in the everyday survival and coping of the displaced population, particularly women. Based on an ethnographic study of the women displaced by Ganga erosion in Malda district of West Bengal, the present paper examines the role of such local institutions in the everyday lives of these women. The main finding is that the degree of vulnerability of displaced women depends upon their institutional affiliations and hence any rehabilitation and resettlement policy should take into consideration the vitality of these institutions in its policy formulation.