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Agricultural Labourers and Poverty

Agricultural Labourers and Poverty K N Ninan JOAN MENCHER'S remarks (January 2-9) in response to my comments (September 19, 1981) on her article "Lessons and Non-Lessons of Kerala: Agricultural Labourers and Poverty" She accuses me of being oblivious of the context in which she wrote her paper, No, certainly I am not. But in the process of countering the praise showered on the Kerala model of development by Gwatkin and company, .Mencher swings the pendulum to the other extreme. Mencher charges me with hot having produced a single fact to warrant my less pessimistic assessment of the Kerala situation. In other words, we arc to accept her view that the situation of Kerala agricultural labourers has not only not improved, but has actually deteriorated considerably. To answer this as well as some of her other observations, let us discuss the following:

Agricultural Labourers and Poverty-A Comment

Agricultural Labourers and Poverty A Comment K N Ninan KERALA has made remarkable progress in certain sectors of its economy but this has led to no perceptible improvement in the living conditions of agricultural labourers or to a reduction in poverty. This is the common refrain of the article by Joan P Mencher ('The Lessons and Non- Lessons of Kerala : Agricultural Labourers and Poverty', EPW, Special Number, 1980). While it is not my intention to controvert the statements and conclusions reached by Mencher, the issues thrown up by her ought to be placed in a proper perspective lest they give rise to misinterpretations. The author seeks an answer to a dynamic question of whether living conditions of agricultural labourers have improved through a one-point static analysis and also rushes to generalisations overlooking the limitations of her sample and analysis.

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