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

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What Happened to Labour-Intensive Industry?

Labour-Intensive Industry? Rethinking Economic Change in India: Labour and Livelihood, Tirthankar Roy; Routledge, London, 2005; KAORU SUGIHARA In his new book Rethinking Economic Change in India: Labour and Livelihood (Routledge 2005), Tirthankar Roy proposes a major revision of historiography. In his view, historians have so far been primarily concerned with the role of colonialism in writing modern Indian history. Nationalist historians have often used concepts, designed to account for the freedom struggle, in writing the history of ordinary people. The conceptual framework of the subaltern studies, with the explicit aim of writing the history from below, was guided by an interest in the forces and structures of power (or the lack of it), at the expense of ignoring others such as the force of the market. The movement and forms of wages, mobility of labour, gender bias towards mobility and resource constraints in the production process, all of which had crucially affected the life of the ordinary people, have thus been largely left unexamined or unrelated to the meta-narrative. Very few attempts have been made to systematically understand how resource endowments (especially the proportion of land and labour, as well as the availability of water) determined the direction of the growth (or stagnation) of the market and technology in the long run. No serious studies exist that have attempted to assess the weight of resource constraints for India
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