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

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The Economy of West Bengal

Even after 30 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal, the state has lagged behind in a few economic indicators, this, despite better performance in agriculture. Agricultural growth rates have however declined in the last decade or so, the reasons for which have been elaborated upon. A gradual movement towards unorganised labour has characterised working patterns in the state and the phenomenon is studied, along with the conditions of living. In this context, the new economic policy of the Left Front government is critiqued. It is suggested that a policy that favours inclusive growth with greater emphasis on small enterprises should be followed by the government if it wants to sustain the gains made and address the shortcomings in the state.

Enrolling and Retaining Slum Children in Formal Schools

India is yet to achieve the goal of universalisation of elementary education or 100 per cent enrolment and retention of children with schooling facilities in all habitations. Despite the government's attempt to achieve this goal through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which has a special focus on girl children, students belonging to disadvantaged families still do not attend classes regularly. This paper examines various reasons for poor attendance behaviour of students in formal schools. On the basis of a study in the eastern slums of Kolkata, it finds that retaining the students in a formal school is far more difficult than enrolling them, particularly if the students are from very poor economic backgrounds.

Labour Process in the Informal Sector

This paper attempts to study the features of the labour process in a transitional situation, on the basis of a field survey in the informal handloom weaving sector in Nadia district. This process depends largely on the nature of the institutional arrangement in the sector, where usury capital has a strong presence due to the influence of the merchant lender, the 'mahajan'. The deskilling tendency associated with the relation between the producer and the mahajan and the unity of conception and execution in some cases are among the characteristics that describe this labour process.

Political Economy of Voluntary Retirement-Study of Rationalised Workers in Durgapur

Study of 'Rationalised' Workers in Durgapur Ratan Khasnabis Sudipti Banerjea The article explores the mechanisms behind the workers' acceptance of voluntary retirement scheme in the Durgapur industrial area of West Bengal. Though there is willingness on the part of the workers to accept the compensation in some cases, there are sizeable number of instances of coercion from the management forcing the workers to accept the deal. More importantly, the amount of VRS gets mostly utilised for non-productive purposes, thus reducing the chances of the retired workers to begin any self-employment venture.

Tenurial Conditions in West Bengal-Continuity and Change

Fifteen years after Operation Barga, tenants of south Bengal yet remain unsure of their tenurial security and fail to get the legally stipulated share of the produce. Lacking access to institutional facilities, they are reverting to private sources of credit A study of four districts of West Bengal with different socio-economic conditions.

More on West Bengal Tenancy Reforms

More on West Bengal Tenancy Reforms Ratan Khasnabis IN his paper 'Sharecropping in West Bengal: From Independence to Operation Bagra' [1], Biplab Dasgupta examines some of the criticisms on the tenancy reform measures of the Left Front government which I raised in an earlier paper [2]. Dasgupta comments thay my 'criticism reveals a complete lack of understanding of what the Left Front government was seeking to achieve through these land reform measures' (I, P A-87). According to Dasgupta, this 'lack of understanding' originates in our failure to appreciate that the Left Front is not aiming at abolition of tenancy; it is aiming at the limited goal of recording the tenancy right of the bargadars.

Operation Barga A Further Note

Operation Barga : A Further Note Ratan Khasnabis IN an earlier comment [6] on the tenancy reform measures of the Left Front government, we had pointed out that the 'Operation Barga' (OB) as modified following the High Court judgment on the issue, has hardly anything new to contribute to the accentuation of class struggle in the countryside. The modified OB is nothing but a simple Revenue Court measure which had already been there as an element in the land reforms administration of the state. This view has been vehemently criticised by the supporters of the Left Front government. OB, they claim, "has taken the shape of class struggle and a great peasant movement in the rural areas of the state", so much so that it is serving now as "harbingers of fundamental change" 12; p 20531Such social democratic tendency of making much of certain pro-bargadar legislative measures can be best understood by examining the limitations of a state sponsored measure like the OB as an instrument for the development of class-struggle in the countryside. Pre- cisely with that end in view, in the first part of the present note, we consider the implementational aspects of the tenancy reform measures and examine their socio-political implications.

Tenancy, Credit and Agrarian Backwardness-Results of a Field Survey

The findings of a survey of tenurial arrangements in Nadia district of West Bengal, reported here, reveal that tenurial arrangements were associated with backward production conditions. A typical tenant did not take up the new agricultural strategy; cost-sharing as an investment proposition was also missing from the pattern of behaviour of the landlords. A non-legalised sharecropping arrangement that assures a high share of the produce for the landowners, wielding semi-feudal authority over the tenants in a near stagnant agrarian economy, is the typical reality with respect to the observed house- holds. No neat model on the lines of differential risk aversion, or varying bargaining power of individual lessors and lessees, seems to he applicable to such an economy.

Operation Barga-Limits to Social Democratic Reformism

Limits to Social Democratic Reformism Ratan Khasnabis This paper examines the policies of the Left Front government in West Benged for promoting the interests of bargadars, specifically, the programme known as Operation Barga.
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