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

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Economic Growth

Poverty Amid Plenty in the New India by Atul Kohli (New Delhi: Cambridge University Press), 2012; pp xiii + 249, Rs 395.

Land, Labour and Caste Politics in Rural Tamil Nadu in the 20th Century: Iruvelpattu (1916-2008)

The "Slater" villages of Tamil Nadu that were first surveyed by the University of Madras economist, Gilbert Slater, and his students in 1916, were resurveyed in the 1930s, 1960s and the 1980s. This paper reports and discusses a 2008 resurvey of Iruvelpattu, one of the five Slater villages in Tamil Nadu. The 2008 study tells the story of persistence of landlord power, continuing dependence of a majority of households on agriculture in spite of the significant diversification of employment that has taken place, and an apparent stagnation in the agricultural economy after the relative success of the green revolution in the 1970s. It also brings out a tightening in the labour market and dalit political mobilisation as well as a shift in agricultural wage rates. However, the level of state intervention in the interests of social security through primary healthcare provision, schools in which teachers are actually present, and the maintenance of a universal public distribution system as well as the operation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, all distinguish Iruvelpattu generally from villages in other parts of the country.

Antinomies of Empowerment

Since the 1990s, and coinciding with the onset of liberalisation, a "new politics" aimed at associating the hitherto disempowered with aspects of governance appears to have taken shape across India's urban, especially its metropolitan, centres. "Civil society" organisations that seek to make politics more accountable to the "consumer citizen", are invariably, as this study based in the city of Chennai argues, middle class dominated, and while working to bridge the democratic gap between the ruling class and the governed, do not really involve themselves in primary concerns of the "urban poor". That the urban poor then have no option but to seek the redressal of their concerns by associating themselves with political parties is just one of several contradictions that this new politics throws up.

Political Participation, Representation and the Urban Poor

In recent times, social scientists have noted the decline of state responsiveness to social claims. There appears an equal decline in the ability of existing structures of representation to provide poorer social groups influence over policy. On the other hand, there is also evidence of a crisis in popular representation in several low- and middle-income countries. Poorer social groups appear to have a limited capacity to present a reform agenda that addresses issues of basic rights and ensures livelihoods. To test this hypothesis, this paper studies sample communities in Delhi, representative of a broad cross section of the population. Through an analysis of the data collected, the study describes and explains patterns of political participation, focusing in particular on ways in which poorer social groups organise, obtain political representation and try to solve collective social problems. It appears, contrary to most expectations, that the needs and interest of poorer people are increasingly being met through the 'new politics' of social movements, the poor in particular still seek to represent themselves and to tackle their problems through political parties.

Globalisation and World's Poor

Globalisation is an extremely powerful ideology being projected as having no alternative. There is resistance, even if not coherent as yet. The practical basis for an alternative is to be seen in the progress being made in different parts of the world, often by left parties, to make a reality of deliberative democracy, as in the experiments with people's planning in Kerala or with participative budgeting in Porto Alegre in Brazil.

What is Happening in Rural West Bengal-Agrarian Reform, Growth and Distribution

What is Happening in Rural West Bengal? Agrarian Reform, Growth and Distribution John Harriss There have been rather few published accounts of the impact of agrarian reforms and of the political organisation of the CPI(M) in the countryside in West Bengal. This study of the effects of CPI(M) mobilisation and policy in a small part of rural West Bengal is an addition to the modest literature in afield which must inevitably depend on qualitative and restrictive enquiries.

Character of an Urban Economy-Small-Scale Production and Labour Markets in Coimbatore

Based on field research in Coimbatore in 1980, this paper discusses several theories concerning the character and role of 'small-'Scale' production in relation to the industrial economy as a whole, A distinction is made between small capitalist units of production and 'petty commodity producer units. The patterns of ownership and financing of both types of units are considered, and the character of the linkages between different forms of production is examined in some detail The extent of subcontracting between big capital industries and small units is shown to be considerable, and the interests of big industry in the splitting up of production processes in order to tighten the control of labour are demonstrated.

Character of an Urban Economy-Small-Scale Production and Labour Markets in Coimbatore

Character of an Urban Economy 'Small-Scale' Production and Labour Markets in Coimbatore John Harriss Based on field research in Coimbatore in 1980, this paper discusses several theories concerning the character and role of 'small-scale' production in relation to the industrial economy as a whole. A distinction is made between small capitalist units of production and 'petty commodity producer units. The patterns of ownership and financing of both types of units are considered, and the character of the linkages between different forms of production is examined in some detail The extent of subcontracting between big capital industries and small units is shown to be considerable, and the interests of big industry in the splitting up of production processes in order to tighten the control of labour are demonstrated. ' The backgrounds and social characteristics of workers in different levels of industry, in casual work and in self-employment are also analysed; and the degree of segmentation existing within the labour market is shown to be high Conclusions are drawn on the processes of reproduction of different forms of small-scale production; and it is argued that while they are subordinated in various ways to big capital production their persistence is ensured by the interests of big capital itself, and by the structure of markets, in particular.
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