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

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Structural Change in Bihar's Rural Economy

Bihar has been showing signs of emerging from stagnation and backwardness. For this to occur in full, an agrarian transformation is central in a state where urbanisation remains very low. This paper uses longitudinal household data from a sample of villages to explore changes in production relations, land and other assets, agricultural development and occupational diversification. There has been a significant change in class structure and a shift away from agricultural occupations for male workers (much less for female), but non-agricultural work is mainly outside the village and largely outside the state. Real wages have risen substantially, more than can be explained by rising agricultural productivity, migration being an important contributory factor. But the segmentation of the rural labour market has increased and local development is uneven.

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.

Rural Elites and the Limits of Scheduled Caste Assertiveness in Rural Malwa, Punjab

The decline of caste-based territorial dominance is widely reported to have given Scheduled Castes more autonomy, but also allowed them more space for political assertion. This paper, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the predominantly agrarian region of Malwa in Punjab, illustrates how SCs are often loudly pressing demands upon political leaders and bureaucrats. However, the paper also illustrates how they still do not wield meaningful power in village panchayats. A wealthy class of farmers that is increasingly involved in urban business uses a combination of party connections, cash and coercion to capture and maintain power at their expense. Such farmers frequently use their political influence to bolster their business interests and to appropriate state resources such as village common lands. The evidence presented here suggests that when SCs mobilise to demand their rights, they are still careful not to challenge dominant interests.

Explaining Village-level Development Trajectories through Schooling in Karnataka

This paper develops and explores a methodology for explaining development trajectories at the village-level. Using data from the Censuses of 2001 and 2011, and qualitative and quantitative data from three purposively selected villages in North Karnataka, it asks why literacy rates and schooling vary considerably in geographically proximate villages. In advancing an explanation, the paper attends to what has been termed the micro-macro problem in analytical sociology as well as the problem of spatial variability, neither of which has been systematically addressed in the literature on rural change in India. The data and methodology used here help identify two social mechanisms--livelihoods enhancement practices and social cooperation--which together explain why one village (Chennooru) experiences stable and higher levels of schooling relative to its neighbours where either livelihoods enhancement practices are absent (Valasooru) or there is a lack of social cooperation (Banadooru). The approach and analysis in the paper imply that attention to social mechanisms aids the crafting of more robust policies on schooling and development.

Employment Outcomes along the Rural-Urban Gradation

In an economy that is transforming rapidly, both economically and spatially, the boundaries between rural and urban areas have become blurred. In practice, the rural-urban divide is more accurately characterised as a rural-urban gradation. Labour market outcomes vary along this gradation. Not integrating the gradation in our data and analysis leads to important loss of granularity and can yield misleading conclusions, a point we illustrate with the decline in female labour force participation.

'One Kind of Democracy'

Even if we concede that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is designed as a demand-driven programme, and that local residents desire to have work projects in their area, whether it translates into effective demand, and whether the work projects actually get initiated depends very much on the dominant voices in local power structures. As this study shows in the case of Maharashtra, however progressive the design of modern democratic institutions, traditional caste hierarchies will try to sabotage their working by using their standing clientelist structures, with class and caste coming together to make this possible.

Livelihoods of Marginal Mining and Quarrying Households in India

Presenting an exploratory approach by which quantitative data from the National Sample Survey can be analysed to throw light on the most marginal households whose primary occupation is recorded as mining and quarrying, this paper finds that a large portion of mining and quarrying is carried out informally by marginal households from disadvantaged social groups. The majority of them are concentrated in stone and marble quarries, living on the edge of poverty, earning irregular incomes, and with poor access to services and utilities. Considering the likely numbers involved and their vulnerability, the paper suggests that mining and quarrying households should receive better policy attention.

Managing Water Management Research

An analysis of 40 years of water management research and outreach in India using data from 34 centres and 5,000 field trials across 23 states shows that of the 502 technologies released, only 110 technologies (22%) have been transferred successfully to farmers. The returns to water management technologies range from 15% to 25% (average 21%) at the research station level, compared to 9% to 14% at the farm level (average 10.8%). Given the current rate of adoption and rate of return, the success rate of the water management technologies is only about 12%. There is therefore an urgent need to address the gaps in technology transfer and performance.

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