Social Scientist. v 16, no. 177 (Feb 1988) p. 17.

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Some Aspects a/Development in the Agrarian Sector in Independent India

1. A comprehensive overview of all the major trends with respect to the agrarian sector during the last four decades, is a necessary but formidable task which will not be attempted in this brief paper even assuming that we had the necessary expertise. Our purpose is to highlight selectively some of the developments which we consider to be the most important in terms of providing insights into the nature of the changes which we have witnessed. It is often useful not to confine the analysis to a sui-generis level by looking at Indian development within its own institutional frame of reference alone, or in relation to its own past history : for it is bound to constrain our view of what is possible, if the possible is conceived narrowly within the given matrix of social relations. For this reason we will refer frequently to the experience of China, which started with very similar and in some ways more acute problems than India, for we think that a study of this experience is productive of important insights into our own problems.

We may broadly distinguish between the trends in the physical indicators subsumed under the level of productive forces including technical changes; and the socio-economic indicators of changes in the structure of distribution of assets and income over different classes within the rural population. These two aspects are of course closely interrelated : not in a rigid deterministic sort of way but in terms of alternative strategies of development. The precise nature of the reciprocal inter relationsip between the level of the productive forces and the social relations of production becomes clearer in a comparative analysis of societies which have followed d ifferent strategies of agrarian change, as have India and China.

Agricultural Production and per capita foodgrains availability

The trends with respect to these variables for the half-century before Independence have been intensively studied by Sivasubramanian (1962) and Blyn (1966) who reach similar conclusions.1 The most striking feature is virtual stagnation in foodgrains output (the average annual production in the last decade, 1937-47 was only 7 per cent higher than in the first decade,

Centere For Economic Studies & Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

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