IT IS a remarkable fact, indicative of the intellectual ambience of the country, that even on the most burning issue facing us today, namely the Punjab situation, analyses of the roots of the crisis are conspicuous by their scarcity. Perhaps this is an index of our pre-occupation with day-today events ; perhaps this springs from an aversion to "sticking one's neck out" ; or may be this is merely symptomatic of a reluctance to let semi-formed thoughts, swapped in small circles, get crystallised into publishable matter. But the fact remains that discussions on the Punjab situation, even among Marxist intellectuals, rarely reach a level of discourse different from that of the daily press. We are happy in this context to be publishing as the lead article of the current number of Social Scientist a piece by Javeed Alam which explores the genesis of the Punjab agitation within a framework of political economy.
The Green Revolution, the author argues, has now reached a stage where returns on any further investment of capital in agriculture are low and unattractive. At the same time, owing to the Green Revolution a considerable amount of money capital has come into the hands of the landed gentry which happens to be largely Sikh. The capital cannot find an adequate outlet in the form of extension of agricultural operations owing to the existence of land ceilings and other obvious constraints upon the alienation of land from the poor. On the other hand its spilling over into the sphere of industry is prevented by the operation of the pan-Indian monopoly bourgeoisie, which is unwilling to yield a fraction of the economic space it occupies and which is backed by the increasingly centralised State power. Thus the bourgeois aspirations of the Sikh landed gentry are thwarted by the big bourgeoisie, and even the local Hindu bourgeoisie which happens to have captured even such limited economic space as is available to local capital. Frustrated bourgeois aspirations in this situation have taken on a communal colouring. This process of communalisation has also been helped by the fact that in the context of the other consequences of the Green Revolution, namely a growing differentiation and polarisation within the peasantry, the Akali leadership has been resorting to appeals to religious sentiments in order to keep the entire community united behind itself and to push the contradictions of the agrarian economy into the background. Communal politics moreover has an easy appeal to the large body of unemployed educated youth ; and communal identity has got strengthened as a backlash against the very rapidity of the economic transformation. Hence the paradox of the dost