ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Capitalising Caste in Yadadri

The Case of Land Market in a Temple Town

Capital and caste are identified in this paper as dominant factors shaping the land market in a rapidly growing Telangana redevelopment project of the Hindu religious Yadadri temple town. The rampant dispossession of small and marginal farmers, labourers, workers, shopkeepers, street vendors, autorickshaw drivers, Dalits and marginalised communities are discussed in this paper through the process of “accumulation by dispossession.” Engaging with the framework of capital and caste for understanding contemporary Indian political economy, this paper elucidates the process of agricultural land meeting real estate economy in a suburban religious town.

The author would like to thank Anant Maringanti, director of the Hyderabad Urban Lab, for his mentorship and insightful comments that helped in revising this paper. The author would also like to thank the mentors of the “Writing to Publish” workshop organised by the editors of the Urban Studies and the Review of Urban Affairs, Economic & Political Weekly. This paper also benefited from the comments and suggestions made by an anonymous reviewer.

Yadadri, a thriving temple town, which is around an hour’s drive from Hyderabad, is a curious case of state-led temple remodelling to invoke and assert Telangana’s sub-nationalist identity.1 After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh (AP), the prominent Hindu cultural pilgrimage, Tirupati, went to AP. Therefore, the Telangana government saw an opportunity to transform Yadadri into a 21st-century spiritual and religious destination and, thus, initiated its restructuring and development project (Menon 2021). The government has made land acquisitions using the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LAAR) Act, 2013 for the temple redevelopment project. The intense development and growth in the temple town have resulted in typical phenomena called “accumulation by dispossession” (Harvey 2005a, 2005b) and “capitalising caste” in the land market in the Yadadri temple town.2 The renovation plans initiated by the government at the temple town have attracted a significant number of visitors to this religious site, consequently driving up land prices in the vicinity, resulting in the transformation of agricultural land into a “speculative real estate” market to meet the growing needs of the temple town (Brenner 1999; Goldman 2011).

The capitalist system depends on the accumulation and appropriation of wealth. Capital, thus, remains in a perennial process of accumulation. It makes accumulation possible by crafting appropriate social spaces to facilitate the circulation of capital in urban and suburban spaces. Extensive wealth accumulation for the capitalist system in the cities is possible through the appropriation of agricultural and industrial land (Banerjee-Guha 2009, 2010). However, capitalism also appropriates the Yadadri temple space for circulation and generates a surplus for the neo-liberal economy in the real estate market. The primary source of economy and livelihood in Yadadri depends on pilgrimage and temple tourism, agricultural-related works, and caste-based occupations. This paper focuses on how the Telangana shaped the temple redevelopment and the creation and enforcement of property rights as an actor and institutional structure, and how other regulatory laws provide a set of empirical indicators for the land market. The landed dominant and intermediate castes and political classes have amalgamated as real estate mediators for agricultural land accumulation for Hyderabad and national real estate companies. But the same process resulted in the loss of livelihood for retail shopkeepers, street vendors, small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, and autorickshaw drivers.

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Updated On : 2nd Jan, 2024
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