The Gods that Failed
Bijay K Danta
RESISTING DISPOSSESSION: THE ODISHA STORY by Ranjana Padhi and Nigamananda Sadangi Aakar Books, 2020, 311 pp., 695.00
May 2022, volume 46, No 5

No story has ever been fully told, it is said, because no story can ever be fully told. However, as Ranjana Padhi and Nigamananda Sadangi tell us in Resisting Dispossession: The Odisha Story, all stories are only half told. That said, it ought to be conceded that this book, which sets out to tell the story of development and its discontents in Odisha from 1948 to the present, tells it remarkably well.

The story of modernity is premised on the successful wedding of a nation’s prosperity with the happiness of the prosperous. Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic description of multipurpose dams and power plants as temples of modern India is the mother of such narratives. It persuasively combines the rhetoric of nation-building and the reality of decolonizing resource management.

However, such development narratives discount the huge social-environmental costs of development. For, dispossession and development emerge as unacknowledged twins of modernity in India. Padhi and Sadangi look at the twins through the prism of resistance, laying the ground for a triadic understanding—linking development, dispossession and resistance—of progress narratives. They cover eleven development projects from different parts across Odisha.

Continue reading this review