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

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Making Pulses Affordable Again

While outlining strategies to increase availability of pulses at affordable prices, it is argued that increasing domestic production of pulses is the only option. Access to one or two protective irrigation sources during the growing season can lead to sizeable increases in pulse production. The har khet ko paani initiative should give priority to pulse-producing areas. The minimum support price, without procurement, helps traders more than farmers because it acts as a focal point for tacit collusion among traders. Including subsidised pulses in the public distribution system has only a small effect on consumption of pulses. We suggest investing in research and extension, aggregating into farmer producer organisations, and paying growers or growing areas for the ecosystem services offered by pulses.

Transitions in Rice Seed Provisioning in Odisha

Rice farmers in India have traditionally kept a portion of their harvest as seeds for the next planting. In this traditional system, public sector production and marketing of seeds of improved varieties developed through public research and development played a critical role in promoting the green revolution. In recent years, the seed system of rice in India is undergoing a transition towards increasing involvement of the private sector, especially in production and marketing of seeds. Such transitions have been driven by a number of economic and institutional changes that have made private provision of rice seeds economically viable. At the same time, economic justifications of public sector involvement in subsidised seed production and marketing are weakening. Through a case study of Odisha, this paper highlights the nature of transition taking place in rice seed provisioning.

F G Bailey's Bisipara Revisited

F G Bailey, the renowned British social anthropologist, conducted fieldwork in Bisipara in the highlands of Orissa in the 1950s to examine the ways in which the state, democracy and new forms of economy were changing the traditional organisation and apprehension of power and status. At the time, and following the Temple Entry Act, the former untouchables of the village attempted to gain entry to the Shiva temple. On that occasion, and as Bailey recounts, they were unsuccessful. A new fieldwork conducted in 2013 in the same location presents an update of the continuing drama surrounding the Shiva temple, against a backdrop of the changing polity and economy of the village, and as a manifestation of contested postcolonial identity politics.

Land, Labour and Power

Based on the restudy in 2012-14 of Jamgod in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh, which was first studied by Adrian C Mayer in the 1950s, an overview of changes in landownership and use, and the relations of labour and production are presented. Locating the analysis at the intersection of land and labour, the aim is to explore how local power structures and personal aspirations have transformed.

Village Restudies

An account of the inception, management and initial conclusions of a research project which "restudied" three villages, one each in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat is presented. These villages had been first studied in the 1950s by British anthropologists F G Bailey, Adrian C Mayer and David F Pocock. The new research was to focus on the sociological conditions of life in these villages today and compare the results of the new surveys with the data from the 1950s. The material presented here also points to some of the strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncratic charms of "restudies."

Migration, Bachelorhood and Discontent among the Patidars

Juxtaposing data collected in the 1950s with data from 2013, this paper describes some of the consequences of a crisis of agriculture in India as a crisis of values and aspirations. Among a relatively prosperous Patidar community in western India, agriculture continues to be economically remunerative while farmers are considered poor. Instead, the ability to secure a job away from land, to move out of the village and possibly overseas have come to constitute new markers of status in a traditionally competitive society. The paper departs from common representations of the caste as an upwardly mobile and successful group, and focuses instead on the discontent and on those who try to achieve the new values of the caste, but fail. As a consequence of failure it shows how Patidars recur to what, from an outsider's point of view, may seem paradoxical: in order to "move up" and participate in the culture and economy of the caste, they have to "move down." In this respect, the paper also contributes to understanding the unevenness of India's growth and the contrary trends that work both to strengthen and weaken caste identity.

Inequality in Rural Nagaland

Tribal villages are usually perceived to be the egalitarian counterparts to villages in India that are ruled by hierarchical caste structures. Taking the case of Ao Naga villages, clan rank and class are found to be important for understanding the changing structures of inequality. Today, these villages are deeply integrated into the larger milieus: politics, administration, education and the market economy. The social mechanisms responsible for inequality are now to a large degree centred outside the village, and living in a village has become almost identical with a lower social status. One result of this process is that instead of clan ranks, the access to outside resources forms the basis of social inequality within the village. Based on secondary sources as well as original fieldwork, an account of how this integration leads to class differentiations at the village level is presented.

Non-farm Diversification, Inequality and Mobility in Palanpur

Data from seven decades of survey in Palanpur provide insights into the changing nature of the village economy. Starting as a predominantly agrarian economy, Palanpur has seen non-farm employment emerge as a major driver of growth and distribution of income in the village economy, but accompanied by increasing inequality. There is evidence of greater mobility among the disadvantaged in Palanpur alongside falling inter-generational mobility. Preliminary analysis suggests that the nature of non-farm activities has become increasingly casual and informal, thereby more accessible to households at the bottom of the distribution, but still significantly influenced by access to networks and family ties, particularly for the more remunerative and stable non-farm jobs.

Revisiting the Rural in 21st Century India

The Review of Rural Affairs this time focuses largely on "restudies" of villages that were studied by social anthropologists and economists in the 1950s. The papers are not simply about documenting the unfolding evolutionary process of development, but bring new perspectives of social science understanding to the study of rural society, and also reflect on the enterprise of anthropology and fieldwork. Jamgod in Madhya Pradesh, Sundarana in Gujarat, Bisipara in Odisha, and Palanpur and Khanpur in Uttar Pradesh were restudied, while one paper presents the results of a fresh study of villages in Nagaland.

Agrarian Transformation and the New Rurality in Western Uttar Pradesh

Based on a multisite ethnographic restudy of villages in western Uttar Pradesh, a decade after the first study in 2004-05, the rise of rural non-farm economy, changing demographics, growing educational opportunities, and increasing mobility across castes and communities are mapped. Also, an analysis of how these changes redefine the nature and culture of rural life in the region is attempted.

Changing Characteristics of Villages in Tamil Nadu

Illustrating the imaginative use of the Primary Census Abstract for Tamil Nadu from the 1991 to 2011 censuses, this paper separates villages that are chronically backward from those that are more developed in terms of demographic and economic characteristics. It also makes use of the data to describe changes in spatial distributions over time.

Dalit Mobilisation and Faction Politics in Rural Andhra Pradesh

This paper explores the relations between the trajectories of Dalit assertion and of faction politics in contemporary Rayalaseema in rural Andhra Pradesh. Based on a case study of a local hybrid alliance between a Dalit NGO and a Dalit agricultural labour union, it examines how Dalit organisations deal with the state and politics at village and town levels in a context of economic and political insecurities. It shows how the decline of Dalit collective forms of mobilisation in the 2000s has reinforced feelings of disempowerment among Dalit activists who look at goondaism and bossism as concrete and direct modes of assertion. The article then investigates the ambivalent relations between Dalit agenda, individual social mobility and dependence on faction leaders.

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