Land Transformations Along Urban Corridors in IndiaUniversity of Pennsylvania Press The City in the Twenty-First Century
Economic corridors—ambitious infrastructural development projects that newly liberalizing countries in Asia and Africa are undertaking—are dramatically redefining the shape of urbanization. Spanning multiple cities and croplands, these corridors connect metropolises via high-speed superhighways in an effort to make certain strategic regions attractive destinations for private investment. As policy makers search for decentralized and market-oriented means for the transfer of land from agrarian constituencies to infrastructural promoters and urban developers, the reallocation of property control is erupting into volatile land-based social conflicts.
In Shareholder Cities, Sai Balakrishnan argues that some of India's most decisive conflicts over its urban future will unfold in the regions along the new economic corridors where electorally strong agrarian propertied classes directly encounter financially powerful incoming urban firms. Balakrishnan focuses on the first economic corridor, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, and the construction of three new cities along it. The book derives its title from a current mode of resolving agrarian-urban conflicts in which agrarian landowners are being transformed into shareholders in the corridor cities, and the distributional implications of these new land transformations.
Shifting the focus of the study of India's contemporary urbanization away from megacities to these in-between corridor regions, Balakrishnan explores the production of uneven urban development that unsettles older histories of agrarian capitalism and the emergence of agrarian propertied classes as protagonists in the making of urban real estate markets. Shareholder Cities highlights the possibilities for a democratic politics of inclusion in which agrarian-urban encounters can create opportunities for previously excluded groups to stake new claims for themselves in the corridor regions.
"In Shareholder Cities, compendious scholarship from agrarian, development and urban studies, law, planning, and history is woven together into a rich analytical fabric. Sai Balakrishnan has achieved such a tour de force in the new, necessary and transgressive field of agrarian urbanization that it is impossible not to be selective in these reflections."—Regional Studies
"[A]n original contribution to scholarship on urbanization in India’s post-liberalization era, and it fills a major gap in the literature on the political economy of Maharashtra and the role therein of Maratha-caste agrarian elites…Balakrishnan offers a fascinating and empirically rich account of the political and economic transformations along the new economic corridors."—Pacific Affairs
"Shareholder Cities brings nearly every big development question and debate in India into sharp focus. Through deep and rich case studies of cities along one of India's largest infrastructure corridors (Mumbai-Pune), Balakrishnan shows how large-scale land use changes are being driven, negotiated, and contested. Weaving together central themes in the most influential paradigms of developmental transformation, Sai Balakrishnan shows how capital, farmers, castes, state logics, and local democratic institutions all intersect in producing a range of outcomes. Shareholder Cities is that rare book that does not merely theorize but actually makes us understand how big structural forces of development work themselves out through the local."—Patrick Heller, Brown University
"Original, thoughtful, and timely, Shareholder Cities offers a fresh perspective on the political economy of land use change in one of the most dynamic regions of India."—Sanjoy Chakravorty, Temple University
"Shareholder Cities is a pathbreaking study of peripheral development along India's transportation corridors. Breaking with the urban-rural binary, Sai Balakrishnan compares different treatments of liminal space to identify those most benefiting poor people. Her attention to cooperatives is a particularly important investigation of the redevelopment of formerly agricultural lands into urban real estate."—Susan S. Fainstein, author of The Just City