Akshay Ragupathy

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 10143

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Ragupathy, Akshay, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on "Unreal Estate: NRIs, Land Scams, and the Modernization of Hyderabad,” supervised by Dr. Rosalind Morris

In my dissertation research, I study petty land scams targeting non-resident Indians (NRIs) and the rumours surrounding these acts in Hyderabad, India. Petty scams targeting plots owned by NRIs are the subject of outsize public and legislative attention in India, prompting new laws such as the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act of 2016. While grand scams, carried out by powerful entities like corporations or states, are the subject of an extensive literature on corruption, the moral discourse embodied in rumours and popular perceptions of petty scams is less studied. My research consists of three interrelated inquiries: (1) an ethnography of petty scams engaging with real estate brokers, dealers and agents, aimed at analysing how real estate markets are constructed; (2) a politico-economic examination of the transformations of the Indian economy and the imagined Indian nation following the emergence and consolidation of the NRI diaspora; and (3) the social history of the relationship between “smart urbanist” IT-development and the real estate sector in Hyderabad.