I walk along the boundaries of Rajarhat, one of West Bengal’s newly-developed “smart townships.” To my right, I see wide open rice fields stretching out to the horizon, dotted with small clusters of thatched huts. To my left: a cacophony of construction work reverberates and towering skyscrapers gradually disappear into the clouds.

In 1995, by government order, all of Rajarhat’s water bodies and land, some of the most fertile in the state, were acquired under India’s draconian Land Acquisition Act of 1894. By May 1999, landowners were sent eviction notices and farmers unwilling to accept them were subjected to state intimidation and brutality.

Today, the region is one of West Bengal’s most significant real estate destinations, representing India’s larger story of development. The New World, shaped by listening to the people of Rajarhat’s experiences of fear, loss, hope, and grief, critically examines this narrative. In this series, I reflect on their stories through metaphors depicting the geography’s history of violence, displacement, and gentrification.