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

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Small Farms in a Fertile Tract

Trends in a North Indian Village: 1930s–2012

From late colonial rent reliefs and agricultural researches to the recent land acquisition bill and the "second green revolution," Indian agriculture has seen several transitions. This paper tracks detailed quantitative and qualitative evidence on long-term shifts in agricultural practices, yields and land relations in Dhantala, a village in western Uttar Pradesh, from the 1930s to 2012. This is done with the help of family and kutcherry records, elders' recall and surveys as well as the interviews conducted personally in three revisits since 1989. This study combines anthropological and oral history methods to reconstruct agrarian change. Located in a well-irrigated, fertile tract and having experienced land redistribution prior to economic liberalisation, this village helps in grasping the limits and scope of agricultural growth in a predominantly small and marginal farm structure supported by favourable soil.

I am grateful to the University Grants Commission, the Indian Council of Social Science Research, the Institute of Economic Growth and Nehru Memorial Museum and Library for lending fi nancial support to my work at different stages. All my fi eld assistants put in a lot of labour in c ollecting data and standing by me at various stages since 1989—Rakesh Kumar, Vikas Kumar, Satyaprakash Gautam and Pavan Kumar. I am also indebted to Dhantala’s elders like Suraj Bhan, Parmanand, Prahlad Singh and Devraj Singh who responded to all my queries with patience over decades. Onus for errors and inadequacies that remain is mine.

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