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Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India: Making Place for Rur ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction: Seeking Success, Finding Farmers
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Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India:

In March 2000, I was conducting preliminary fieldwork in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India for a dissertation focused on cooperative dairying. My location in the town of Maheshwar provided a very different perspective on the nature of Clinton's visit, for in a less visible ceremony on March 23, 2000, Ogden Energy, a member of Clinton's “corporate entourage,” signed an agreement to invest in the construction of the privatized Maheshwar dam on the Narmada river, despite strong grassroots opposition to the dam spearheaded by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, or Movement to Save the Narmada River (International Rivers Network [IRN] 2000). For villages facing submergence due to the construction of the Maheshwar dam, the presidential visit thus heralded another round of assault on their survival. For me, what was most troubling about the juxtaposition of Nayala and Maheshwar was that it seemed as if cooperative dairying had functioned as a distraction, drawing public attention away from the more dire consequences of encounters between development and rural places.

In a very short time, however, the account of Clinton's visit to Nayala began to unravel. Nayala's residents pointed out that the publicity provided to their village would not change their lack of access to development (Bora 2000), and dissatisfactions were expressed with the seemingly staged nature of Clinton's visit. In fact, the dairy society members that had spoken with the president had been brought in from a more interior village because it had been deemed too far off the beaten track for the comfort of the visiting dignitary (Kamath 2000). Additionally, a perusal of the president's schedule would suggest that rural development had functioned as a form of tourism, being combined with visits to the famous forts of Rajasthan (BBC News 2000a, 2000b). From momentarily basking in the glow of successful development, rural India then reverted to its usual association with the entrenched nature of poverty. Meanwhile, by December 2000, Ogden had withdrawn funding from the Maheshwar project, impelled in part by the opposition to it (Roy 2001, 35–86; S. Nair 2000; Narmada Bachao Andolan [NBA] 2001). In the case of both Nayala and Maheshwar, therefore, rural places