AGRARIAN POWER AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY 53
caution, making good use of the available literature and data. The essay has significant insights to offer, and after a detailed examination, Chaudhuri explicitly warns against stressing the 'autonomous role of the rural power structure in determining the shape of the economy', while arguing for a recognition of the profound influence of a myriad of diverse developments 'on which the rural power structure only marginally impinged'.
Meghnad Desai has contributed a theoretical paper on 'Power and Agrarian Relations: Some Concepts and Measurements', which, in my opinion, is the least inspiring of the lot, in spite of its rigorous appearance. He defines and measures power in terms of maximal and actual shares in the economic surplus of the various groups—landlords, tenants, share-croppers and labourers—while setting up a model in terms of a single landlord vis-A-vis tenants, share-croppers and landless labourers. From this model, some simple measures of power in terms of 'distance' are derived in the single period and the dynamic context relating to a single landlord. Then Desai goes on to aggregate these measures over all landlords to derive a 'measure' of the power structure (as if 'class power' were a simple aggregation of the individuals' power). He concludes with some remarks as to how his measure could be applied empirically. Desai's contribution is possibly a good example of what one should not do in the name of Marxian Political Economy, a point which we shall take up later.
Ronald J. Herring's essay on 'Econonlic Consequences of Local Power Configurations in Rural South Asia', clearly stands out for its broad and comprehensive conceptual canvas and insightful comments, while addressing issues related to the main theme. His argument is that 'the question of deployment of (extracted) surplus, particularly over time, is more critical for explaining change in productivity than is the mode of appropriation of surplus. . . . The classes which determine the deployment of economic resources locally exhibit remarkable variability, flexibility and adaptability in economic decision-making quite inconsistent with static determinist models; structure is by no means unimportant, but it is not determinative* (p. 199). This 'flexibility and adaptability' cannot be analysed. Herring argues convincingly, without reference to the articulation of local structures within the national political economy, and the integration of State and society at the village level—an argument with which the present reviewer is in broad sympathy.
Ashok Rudra's study of 'Local Power and Farm-level Decision-making', based on data concerning economic arrangements and 'transactions' between different sections in some villages in contemporary West Bengal, concludes that it is the realities of local power and the resulting patron-client relationships, rather than economic considerations proper, that determine farm-level decisions. By 'locality' he means the village, and by 'power' 'a social phenomenon given rise to by such institutional factors as class