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Shankar Gopalakrishnan

The India Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) was hailed as a landmark measure aimed at overturning the ‘historical injustice’ done to forest dwellers by a century and a half of colonial forest law. But the FRA was not just a ‘forest policy’ measure. It was required to confront the entire ‘regime’ of land and resource control operational in India today, of which forest law is only a particularly extreme example. This resource regime has become the undiscussed foundation of a range of phenomena that characterise India’s political economy today: from its specific growth pattern to the manner in which the concept of ‘development’ itself is understood in Indian public discourse. This chapter discusses how the struggle to have the FRA passed, and the subsequent struggle over how and in what manner it is ‘implemented’, reflects this larger political economy and ongoing attempts by various political actors to change it.