Social Scientist. v 15, no. 161 (Oct 1986) p. 3.

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Political Implications of Economic Contradictions in Punjab


THIS PAPER is yet another attempt at understanding the Punjab problem with its various differentiated facets. The argument proceeds on a somewhat altered focus. It will try to locate the long term underlying objectively grounded roots of discontent among the classes that have gained the most in a situation of growing prosperity. This is predicated on the view that in situations of lopsided, stunted growth under retarded capitalism, deprivation or exploitation is not the only point of cumulation of discontent. The clue to the specificity of the communalisation of politics in Punjab, as against its earlier community-centredness, lies in this peculiarity. The changing contours of political articulation of discontent, during the recent past, among the exploited classes due to growing economic contradictions is itself a social consequence of this peculiarity. This obviously necessitates looking at the totality of development in a different light to grasp the determinations of economic transformation and class formation for ethnicity of communal consciousness.

Within this perspective, as a non-expert on Punjab, I find very few comprehensive analyses of the problem. There are either detailed works spelling out the growing contradictions of the economy in Punjab, especially of the Green Revolution; or, there are long accounts of the evolution of Sikh politics and the contemporary movements among the Sikhs1.

Both types of accounts are basically of a reductionist nature although full of very useful insights. The first does not answer why contradictions of the same kind in other regions have not led to similar conflagarations and the second has a tendency to reduce every thing to history. I find on the whole that inadequate efforts have been made at explicating the social implications of the economic contradictions in the sphere of politics. The mediations from contradictions to postures seems to me to be missing.

My problem, therefore, is not simply to explain the Khalistan movement or Akali sectarianism or Sikh communalism per se but to try to disentangle the various strands in the situation, not necessarily confined to

* Department of Political Science H. P.. University, Shimla

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