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

Articles By West Bengal

Short- and Long-run Dynamics of Total Fertility Rate in West Bengal

Despite India achieving sub-replacement fertility and projecting stable future population growth, there exist significant variations in the total fertility rate among its states. One such state, West Bengal, exhibits a concerning TFR of 1.4, posing a threat to sustainable population growth. This research paper aims to identify the determinants contributing to the declining TFR in West Bengal. Our study reveals that while per capita income has long-term implications for TFR, it does not have a short-term effect. Conversely, the total population significantly impacts TFR in both the short and long run. The share of the primary sector in the state’s domestic product is found to be inconsequential in shaping TFR.

Making of a Frontier Identity

A frontier is a “contested” geopolitical and cultural space. The emergence of the frontier has often been attributed to the complex historical, political, cartographic and cultural rearrangements that took place in a region at different points in time. The paper attempts to examine the making of the erstwhile Goalpara as a frontier and its “transition” to a “contested space” spreading between Assam and West Bengal. Based on an anthology, it tries to locate this frontier, considering its close proximity with both the states and the resultant identity imbroglio, in the context of the Koch-Rajbanshi community living in the region.

Is Fixed Price Contract a Viable Option for Farmers?

This paper explores the economics of contract versus non-contract potato farming in West Bengal, India, using primary data collected from a household survey of 263 farmers (2021–22 potato season). While proponents of contract farming argue that fixed prices and secure markets provide farmers with better returns, this study shows that non-contract farmers actually obtained much higher farm investment income (`42,413.63) per acre than contract farmers (`9,703.94). Without any significant differences in yield and production costs, the higher open market price (`1,458) per quintal benefits non-contract potato farmers despite production loss, while the fixed price in contract farming (`1,106) leads to significantly less farm returns for contract potato farmers.

Of Conflict and Collaboration

The transformation of party society in West Bengal under the Trinamool Congress in which only Mamata Banerjee commands universal loyalty is traced. She has built an architecture of power that makes extensive political use of governmental resources, allows local party bosses to run their own fiefdom in exchange of total allegiance, and plays dangerously with religious, ethnic, and caste identities. On their part, the enterprising party leaders as “franchisees” use “Brand Mamata” in their bid to capture and retain territorial power. While such “franchisee politics” of “non-corporate crony capitalism” triggers unprecedented corruption and unlimited electoral violence, it also produces an economy requiring cooperation across religious and ethnic lines as a precondition for meeting people’s livelihood. By combining partisan conflict with social collaboration on the foundations of party society, West Bengal’s franchisee politics places a structural deterrence for the rapidly emergent Bharatiya Janata Party and its politics of religious polarisation.

The Story of Land Acquisition in Bhangar, West Bengal

One crucial factor among many that led to the victory of Trinmool Congress in the West Bengal elections in 2011 was the violence associated with land acquisitions in the period when the Left Front was in power. An attempt is made to see if any lessons were learnt out of the Nandigram–Singur episodes. A case study of land acquisition in the Bhangar area of West Bengal is presented by putting forth the entire story of what happened from January 2013 to March 2020. The intersecting dynamics of local politics, local land mafia, the rents arising out of land acquisitions, and the state-level politics are also analysed. It is found that the villagers are willing to sell their land if they get a “proper” compensation. It is hypothesised that possibly a “learning state” is evolving in West Bengal, which could aid its industrialisation.

The Fragile Discourse of Caste in West Bengal

The objective of this article is to put forward a modest hypothesis to test, namely “to politicise caste in Bengal, it needs to be taken out from the fold of Hindu religion.” The category needs to be mobilised and radicalised through the active participation of lower-caste groups across the state. To do this, the proliferation of sociocultural organisations is necessary whose prime concern would be to stretch the logic of caste in the political domain, whereas caste has hitherto taken only a comfortable refuge in the Hinduised domain of the Bengal social.