Talk by Dr. Richa Kumar, Associate Professor at the IIT, Delhi, on Remaking Landscapes, Reshaping Palates and Transforming Diets in Western Awadh, Uttar Pradesh, India

The Center for Information Technology and Public Policy (CITAPP)

International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB)

organised a talk titled

Remaking Landscapes, Reshaping Palates and Transforming Diets in

Western Awadh, Uttar Pradesh, India


Dr. Richa Kumar

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

co-authors: Richa Singh (Sangtin, Sitapur), Sudha Nagavarapu (Sangtin, Sitapur), Surbala Vaish (Sangtin, Sitapur),

Ankush Agrawal (IIT Delhi), Anand Prakash (IIT Delhi)

2:00 PM on 10 January, 2019 (Thursday)

Venue: Room A310, IIITB campus

26/C, Electronic City, Hosur Road, Bangalore

About the talk: Through our research, we map the efforts of the state, guided by a discourse of modernisation and technology driven change, to remake agricultural landscapes, while also reshaping the palates and diets of rural north Indians in western Awadh, Uttar Pradesh, India. We show how the power of the state to engender a shift to intensive monoculture agriculture, green revolution style, worked in tandem with the interests of private capital in the commodification of specific agrarian resources (leading to the demise of others), which, in turn, helped shape aspirations surrounding food consumption. All this, we argue, has led to a growing nutritional crisis in rural Awadh. Using oral history interviews, focus group discussions, commodity chain mapping and a seasonal diet survey over 12 months, our research challenges the dominant narrative of a past of scarcity and hunger that was redeemed by the green revolution. It shows, instead, that from a past of highly nutritious and diverse food, rural Awadhis today are struggling with the ill-effects of malnutrition produced by the green revolution and its attendant provision of highly polished cereals and sugar. While hunger in the past was shaped by traditional power relationships, malnutrition, today, seamlessly crosses these boundaries of privilege.

Speaker Bio: Richa Kumar is Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her research and teaching interests are in the Sociology of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition, Science and Technology Studies, and Rural and Agrarian Policy. Her current research is on the impact of monoculture farming on farm systems, the environment and human health. Her book, “Rethinking Revolutions: Soyabean, Choupals and the Changing Countryside in Central India” was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. She is a recipient of the New India Fellowship and is a member of the Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies (NRAS). She completed her Ph.D. from the Science, Technology and Society Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

CITAPP at IIIT Bangalore is an interdisciplinary think-tank set-up to focus on the policy challenges and the organizational demands made by technological innovation. Of particular interest to the Centre is how technological advances, along with institutional changes that harness the legitimacy and the powers of bureaucracies and market, address the needs of underserved communities.