ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by G K LietenSubscribe to G K Lieten

Panchayats in Dealing with Natural Disasters-1993 Floods in Jalpaiguri

1993 Floods in Jalpaiguri G K Lieten Prabhat Datta Supporters of panchayati raj expect that the devolution of power will produce a flexible and committed respc to natural calamity. This presitimption is tested in the case of the 1993 floods in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. Field research among flood victims shows that the panchayats were indeed prompt and efficient in their response to the crisis and fair in their distribution of relief and compensation.

For a New Debate on West Bengal

For a New Debate on West Bengal G K Lieten Steering between the two extremes of contemptuous dismissal and unqualified acclaim, the neutral observer may readily admit that the panchayat system and the process of rural reforms in West Bengal have done reasonably well, and that this is the fountain-head of its success. After almost two decades of LDF sway, it is, however, important to do some creative thinking on new initiatives.

On Casteism and Communalism in Uttar Pradesh

in Uttar Pradesh Recent political developments in Uttar Pradesh have been characterised by two denunciatory concepts: casteism and communalism Preliminary results of an attitudinal survey in Jaunpur district show that class- conscious voting in itself may politically result in caste polarisation. The simple characterisation of this polarisation as casteist may function as a shorthand for the condemnation and denunciation of a social stirring by the exploitative classes.

Caste, Gender and Class in Panchayats-Case of Barddhaman, West Bengal

Case of Barddhaman, West Bengal G K Lieten A truly emancipatory movement requires continuous political and social action leading to enfranchisement This essay highlights an aspect of enfranchisement by examining closely the functioning of the panchayat institution in West Bengal. Empirical material from one block in the district of Barddhaman is the primary reference and additional material from a block in Birbhum is the secondary reference AN emancipatory movement, which the CPI(M) in West Bengal claims to represent, should be expected not only to provide a sufficient and equitable access to economic resources, but also to strive at emancipation from oppressive social and political forces. A mere equitable share of basic economic assets and access to credit, inputs and markets may allow for economic development, but, as Anisur Rahman has noted, poverty alleviation programmes tend to transfer the dependence of Door households from one source to another. Such program- mes often remain "a narrow management notion subject to manipulation by those who would enjoy the monopoly of social knowledge" [Rahman 1984:11].

Literacy in Post-Land Reform Village

G K Lieten Changes in the social parameters,with an improvement in the educational and health standards of the multiple poor classes in India, would be as beneficial, at another level, as land reforms. The probability, however, is that both changes are related. In West Bengal, with its successful land reforms programme this relationship can be observed. It is still a long distance to full literacy, but the data from 58 sample schools in one block indicate that the school enrolment of hitherto rather excluded SC/ST children has increased considerably IN October 1990, a mass literacy programme covering several districts in the country was inaugurated. The initiative for the programme was taken by ihe Kerala Sastra Sahitya fctrishad, which, taking the cue from the achievement of a 100 per cent literacy rate in the district of Ernakulam, involved a number of other voluntary organisations and government finances to repeat the grey revolution, under the banner of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, in the rest of India.

Mandalisation under British Rule in Bengal

Mandalisation under British Rule in Bengal G K Lieten aste, Politics and the Raj: Bengal 1872-1937 by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay; P Bagchi, Calcutta, 1990.

Depeasantisation Discontinued-Land Reforms in West Bengal

If West Bengal has a better record in the area of land reforms, a large part of the credit must go to the Left Front government. Its initiatives have been directed at achieving maximum results within the framework of the Indian state. A more radical deconstruction of property relations would have been synonymous with self-defeating brinkmanship.

Weak on State, Strong on Reform

of the Planning Commission have to undergo a stricter test of being accepted by the NDC on which the richer states are strongly represented. Us decisions represent a careful weighing of different viewpoints and their reconciliation. While there is certainly room for persuasion and pressure in favour of more progressivencss, there are severe limits to the process.

Panchayat Leaders in a West Bengal District

This study of the socio-economic background of the panchayat leaders in one of the blocks in Birbhum district confirms that a new type of leadership has come to dominate at the lower levels in the system of political devolution in West Bengal. Poor peasants and agricultural labourers and, therefore, also the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have very much come to the forefront. On the other hand, however, there is still almost complete absence of women as candidates in the panchayat elections. Unlike the SC/STpopulation and the landless and near-landless occupation groups, women have not increased their visibility in the panchayat leadership.

Broadsides from an Indian Behaviouralist

languages", in a short but remarkably perceptive essay makes two points which would describe the Indian language and literature scene very correctly. He talks of the trans-ethnic elite. If you have listened to literary discussions in Bombay or Calcutta or Delhi you would have no difficulty in visualising the Indian counterpart of the African phenomenon that Omotoso is talking about. The member of the trans-ethnic elite "fulfills his neo-colonial role in English

The Village in a Static Mould

The Village in a Static Mould G K Lieten Around the Plough: Socio-Economic Context of Agricultural Farming in an Indian Village by S B Chakrabarti; Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta, 1986; pp 203, IN his novel The Puppets' Tale, Manik Bandyopadhyay writes of the deterministic pattern of life in a pre-independence Bengal village. He makes Sashi, the freshly returned ayurvedic doctor, wonder "how closely attuned the minds of all these people were, how devoid of individuality and originality they were and how alike they all thought. They had identical feelings, identical notions of humour and identical sets of fears and superstitions and they all measured up to identical standards of meanness and generosity!' The moral order of the villages, or as S B Chakrabarti calls it, the culture behind agriculture, has been a running theme in anthropological studies. As an anthropologist, he has drawn a detailed picture of the agricultural operations and the concomitant social and cultural parameters in one particular village in the Burdhwan district in West Bengal The main body of the book is preceded by a short but clear description of the social geography of the village. Whereas the brahmins, muslims, tambuli, sadgope and kayastha communities represent only 44 per cent of the 561 households, they own 95 per cent of the land. The santhals, bagdis, bauds and dules, who are as numerous, own only 0.63 per cent of the land. At least, this was the picture prevailing in 1972-73 when the author conducted his field work. His data thus confirm the prevalence of a binary opposition between the bhadralok landowners of the upper castes and the chotalok labourers of tribal and low caste origin. The quantitative figures may have changed in the meantime, the author concedes in his preface, but "by and large, the qualitative aspects seem to hold good even today".

Fallacies of Workers Ownership

Fallacies of Workers' Ownership G K Lieten DURING the last decade, an old theory has been recovered from oblivion It has been turned, sometimes in a marxian jacket, into a novel way of defining exploitation and of explaining the differences between city and countryside, between the organised and the unorganised sector.


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