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Agrarian Radicalism in South India

Agrarian Radicalism in South India

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    Agrarian Radicalism in South India
    Book Description:

    The author finds that agrarian radicalism develops most readily in a way analogous to industrial class struggle: through the economic clash of homogeneous and polarized groups within the agrarian sector

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5784-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    During the 1970s, agriculture and agrarian society became increasingly central to explanations of political development in the Third World. Until late in the 1960s, however, political development theory rested heavily on the assumption that industrialization and urbanization were the principal engines of political change in the Third World, as they had been in the West. Economic development theorists concentrated on the urban-industrial processes or stages through which economic growth would take place. Political development theorists focused on the political requisites for and processes through which rapid industrial growth and orderly urban growth could take place. “Modernization” was defined as the...

  2. CHAPTER 2 The Sources of Agrarian Radicalism: Theoretical Considerations
    (pp. 12-46)

    Over the last decade the shifting focus of political development theory has resulted in the publication of several major studies of agrarian change and agrarian radicalism in the Third World. This important new body of literature serves as a guide to important concepts and problems in the explanation of agrarian radicalism and as a basis for discussion of the wider implications of the analysis of agrarian radicalism in Thanjavur District.

    Any attempt to summarize the literature must take note of its variety. First, the contributions come from different disciplines: Barrington Moore from history; Eric R. Wolf from anthropology; Keith Griffin...

  3. CHAPTER 3 Approaches to the Study of Agrarian Radicalism
    (pp. 47-70)

    Empirical studies of rural politics in modern India generally fall into four broad categories: 1) the one- or two-village case study;¹ 2) the district or state case study;² 3) the multidistrict aggregate (socio-economic and electoral) data analysis;³ 4) the single or multivillage survey data analysis.⁴ These types are listed roughly in order of their frequency, with the village and district or state case studies heavily predominant. The use of quantitative aggregate and survey data to analyze Indian politics is relatively recent.

    Each of these methodological categories is generally associated with a particular substantive focus. The village case studies have been...

  4. CHAPTER 4 Thanjavur District
    (pp. 71-101)

    The area comprised by Thanjavur District in the state of Tamil Nadu is one of the most studied in India.¹ Scholars have been attracted by its economic, social, political, religious, and cultural importance, both historical and contemporary. The district’s economic significance, past and present, derives from its agricultural productivity (it is widely known as the “granary of South India”), in particular from extensive wet paddy cultivation made possible by irrigation from the Kaveri (formerly Cauvery) River. Continuity and change in its complex social structure have invited close attention. The home of one of the great kingdoms of ancient and medieval...

  5. CHAPTER 5 Agrarian Variability in Thanjavur: The Agro-Economic Zones
    (pp. 102-135)

    The socio-economic diversity of the Indian subcontinent is almost an article of faith among even the most casual observers of Indian society. In practice, however, the recognition of variability is often either not applied or not carried far enough in the efforts of social scientists to comprehend a given phenomenon. This may result from either the desire to generalize or, as mentioned in Chapter 3, from limitations in the method of study.

    While some degree of generalization is the ultimate objective and methodological limitations are unavoidable in all social science research, it is especially important to attend to local variability...

  6. CHAPTER 6 Agrarian Structure and Agrarian Radicalism
    (pp. 136-157)

    The emphasis, sometimes unintended, in many studies of agrarian radicalism is on identifying the agrarian group or groups, stratum or strata, “responsible” for the emergence of agrarian radicalism. Thus, much discussion centers on the roles of middle peasants, poor peasants (variable defined), and landless labor. For instance, Wolf and Alavi emphasize the role of the “middle peasant,” Scott, Stinchcombe, and Zagoria the tenant, and Paige the sharecropper or migratory laborer.

    Arguments for the relative importance of these groups in radical agrarian movements turn on the question of their position in the agrarian property structure. Those favoring the middle peasant thesis...

  7. CHAPTER 7 Agricultural Labor and Agrarian Radicalism
    (pp. 158-181)

    The structural sources of agrarian radicalism in Thanjavur District emerged quite clearly in the last chapter. Measured in the aggregate, radicalism is associated with a relatively bipolar structure in which a socially homogeneous, largely landless and impoverished labor force confronts a small and homogeneous group of large landowners. Thus, radicalism has its strongest base among Harijan agricultural laborers in Zones 2 and 3. Where tenancy and small landholdings are embedded in this structure, they also contribute to the development of radicalism.

    The relationship between agrarian structure and radicalism can be more fully understood when the aggregate findings can be corroborated...

  8. CHAPTER 8 Tenancy and Agrarian Radicalism
    (pp. 182-218)

    In the literature on agrarian radicalism the tenant plays a much larger role than the landless laborer. This is a consequence, I believe, of the basic model of change in peasant society that many Western scholars bring to the topic. The emphasis given by many studies (those of Wolf, Migdal, and Scott, for example) to the disruptive impact of capitalism on the “traditional lord-and-peasant” relationship focuses attention on the tenant’s response to modernization as the key to understanding agrarian radicalism.

    Yet the effort to define conditions under which the breakdown of traditional agrarian relations leads to radicalism faces many obstacles.¹...

  9. CHAPTER 9 Technological Change and Agrarian Radicalism
    (pp. 219-250)

    In the 1970s the study of agricultural change in developing societies gave heightened attention to the impact of technological change on thedistributionof agricultural wealth and income.¹ The shift in emphasis from growth to equity considerations resulted, ironically enough, from a dramatic breakthrough, real and apparent, in agricultural growth in the late 1960s and early 1970s.² During this period several Asian countries achieved significant gains in foodgrain productivity, especially in wheat, through the introduction of new, more fertilizer-responsive varieties developed by international research institutes.³

    At first these innovations were thought to revolutionize agricultural production in these countries and so...

  10. CHAPTER 10 The Mobilization of Agrarian Radicalism
    (pp. 251-296)

    In the last several chapters I have attempted to isolate and describe the geophysical, agro-economic, and technological factors that have been conducive to the emergence of agrarian radicalism in Thanjavur District. I have argued that certain agro-economic structural conditions arising out of the adaptation of paddy production to gross and subtle distinctions in soil, water, and climatic conditions, combined with parallel social structural characteristics, are associated with agrarian radicalism. More precisely, these conditions both form the “objective situation” and foster the “subjective awareness” necessary to the development of a radical orientation. In particular, the polarized agrarian structure that characterizes many...

  11. CHAPTER 11 Conclusion: Modernization and Agrarian Society
    (pp. 297-310)

    “The indian village,” writes Gunnar Myrdal inAsian Drama, “is like a complex molecule among whose parts extreme tensions have been built up. Although the tensions crisscross in a manner that maintains equilibrium, it is conceivable that they may reorganize in a way that would explode the molecule. This would perhaps not happen spontaneously but as a result of forceful onslaught from outside.”¹

    Myrdal’s metaphor captures, perhaps a bit dramatically, the key issues I have addressed in this study. First, to continue the analogy, I have tried to discover what kind of organization, what internal structure, makes the molecule at...