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



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