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

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From 50 Years Ago: The Satyashodhak Samaj and Peasant Agitation

Vol VIII, No 44  NOVEMBER 3, 1973

 The Satyashodhak Samaj and Peasant Agitation

Gail Omvedt

There is no denying that, given the substantial amounts of inequality in landholding throughout the colonial period, a stratum of ‘rich peasants’ among non-Brahmans did exist. It is also true that this stratum, along with the educated class of non-Brahmans and some merchants, provided the basis of support for the non-Brahman political party (which must be distinguished from the movement as a whole) — something that was inevitable given the narrow electorate and conditions of parliamentary democracy. It is similarly true that important tensions existed between caste Hindu non-Brahmans and untouchables, particularly in the villages; although, for a time, the non-Brahman movement did “make common cause with untouchables”. (The truth was not so much that the movements drew apart as that the non-Brahman movement per se — particularly the Satyashodhak Samaj — died away after 1930 as its leaders joined the Congress, while the untouchable drive gathered momentum and retained its radical, separatist impulse. Part of the reason for this was that the wealthier among non-Brahmans lost their need to retain significant social radicalism as they managed to consolidate their power within the framework of the Congress party.) Finally, the Maharashtrian class structure today appears to present a clear case of dominance of a consolidated rich peasant class in fairly comfortable coexistence with the intelligentsia and urban capitalists.

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Updated On : 30th Oct, 2023
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