Social Scientist. v 13, no. 143 (April 1985) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

THE HISTORY and the historiography ot the struggles of the oppressed has been ^ major preoccupation of Social Scientist. It constitutes a prominent theme of the current number as well, where the lead article by Sanat Bose as well as the discussion on the Man.yam Rebellion byArluryMurali and David Arnold and the article by C S K Singh on 'Bhils' participation in politics, fall under this rubric. Bose recounts the early studies on Indian labour which predate the upsurge of academic interest in the subject and shows how interest in labour studies grew in direct proportion to the intensity of labour struggles. Two widely divergent outlooks informed these studies : on the one side were those writers or commentators who had a distinct bias in favour of the employers or the colonial administration and who looked upon workers' struggles as mainly the outcome of instigation by "outsiders", particularly the nationalist agitators; on the other side were the labour leaders themselves often motivated by humanitarian concerns and often assuming the role of the chroniclers of struggles as well, who emphasised the element of spontaneity in these struggles and underscored the abject conditions under which the workes lived and worked. This "outsider" theme was to be played up even more at a later stage when Communist trade unions appeared on the scene and workers' struggles acquired an added political dimension. The chorus against outside influence was then joined even by some labour leaders themselves whose liberal bourgeois outlook prevented them from going beyond strictly limited economic demands or dreaming beyond the realisation of the "model" of English trade unionism. Notwithstanding their limited horizons, however, the contribution of the pioneer labour leaders to the workers' cause deserves recongnition which Bose scrupulosuly accords.

The process of disintegration of centralised authority, which marked the interregnum before the consolidation of British rule, had as its counterpart a disintegration of the structure and organisation of the armed forces. It was not simply a federalisation of the armed forces that came into being with the emergence of more autonomous regional satraps, but something more profound, namely, a proliferation of mercenary bands who were a source as much of anxiety as of succour for their temporary patrons. This phenomenon, together with its underpinnings in the processes of political economy, is examined in the context ot Bengal in the article by Ratan Das-gupta. The financial crisis engulfing the Nawab of Bengal, his inability either to draw upon the earlier structure of military support, or to substitute these by new structures, the consequent reliance upon mercenaries, the reaction of this phenomenon on the financial situation, and the ultimate decline of this phenomenon under rhe weight of us own logic : all these aspects are dealt with in this article which charts an unusual but fascinating terrain altogether.

This year's budget, together with the export-import policy which followed it, marks a crucial shift in economic policy in the direction advocated by the World Bank and other such agencies. A progressive dismantling of controls, greater freedom for



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