Social Scientist. v 19, no. 214-15 (Mar-April 1991) p. 3.


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AMIYA KUMAR BAGCHI*

Reflections on the Nature of the Indian Bourgeoisie^

In recent times there has been a considerable amount of work on the ideology of the working class and on its behaviour. Some of the young social scientists and historians have found the working class very deficient in some respects. They have been found not to be sufficiently class-conscious. They have been found to be communal in some contexts,1 and far too attached to their own regions and linguistic and ethnic identities. But the same kind of attention has not been paid by many social scientists to the exploiters of those workers. If the workers have been communal, what has happened to the capitalists? Have they inherited all those secular values which their superior education, their superior property position and their overwhelming advantages in life give them access to? In understanding the growth of capitalism in India, of the kind of capitalism that we have in India, I do think that understanding the behaviour of the capitalist class is extremely important. Even if we cannot always settle why they behave the way they behave, it is important to know how they behave in certain particular contexts, and what kind of ideologies, in a very broad sense seem to motivate them. I find that even though I have not planned it that way, my talk is to some extent complementary to the first talk given by B.T. Ranadive, because he has there talked about the growth of a scientific ideology in India. What I am going to talk about is perhaps the persistence and even the growth of 'unscientific* but locally advantageous ideologies amongst some of the masters of our destiny.

Capitalism as a term has come into general use only after the Marxists used it to characterise and critically analyse the modern societies of Western Europe and the U.S.A. Marx and Engels spent their

4 Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.

** Text of the Third V.P. Chintan Memorial Lecture delivered at the Indian School of

Social Sciences, Madras, on 19 October 1989.

Social Scientist, Vol. 19, Nos. 3-4, March-April 1991



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