In the last five years researchers from the CPR have engaged in two different research initiatives regarding India’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The first initiative looked at the broader picture of SEZs and its implications on urban governance.
Using a large set of data, the project reviewed and analysed the rationale underpinning the SEZ policy and to what extent it is being followed in the approval process. Furthermore, the project sought to find out who really benefits from the SEZs, what characteristics the SEZs have in terms of location, main economic sectors and degree of development and urbanisation. The project focused on the SEZs’ implication for urban growth and urban governance of the SEZs. Documenting the views of various stakeholders, the study examined the existing constitutional and policy framework as well as the emerging governance model in SEZs.
The second more recent initiative looks at politics of SEZs at the level of states, interrogating the SEZ policy with regard to the selection process of SEZs, fulfillment of economic objectives, regional imbalances, governance structures and protest movements. The project uncovers the social movements against the SEZs and the state response to it. Detailed case studies in eleven Indian states investigate differences in the SEZ-related political mobilization, their intensity, sustainability, the grievances articulated, the tactics employed as well as the means employed by governments to manage dissent. It involves a network of researchers and is conducted in association with the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH, Delhi) and Hunter College (New York).