The current issue of Social Scientist has three articles on colonial India dealing with three different themes, each of which nonetheless is of abiding interest. The paper by Vikash Pandey, which takes Awadh as its case-study, explores the character of the agricultural middle class:
did it correspond to the 'progressive' middle peasantry, identified by Hamza Alavi and others as the leader of the peasantry as a whole in anti-feudal and anti-colonial struggles before independence, or was it a stratum that more or less kept itself aloof from peasant uprisings? Pandey argues that the entire middle layer, consisting of under-proprietors, subordinate proprietors, occupancy tenants, ex-proprietary tenants, grant holders and privileged tenants, did not consist of persons who were coming up the social ladder and whose economic position was based in any way upon enterprise; on the contrary their privileged position was closely related to pre-capitalist forms of rent collection and, though hostile to superior taluqdari rights, they stood quite apart from the vast mass of tenants-at-will. This made them stand aside during the peasant rebellions of the 1920s, though they joined the Congress-led nationalist struggle thereafter, in contradistinction with the case of the 'middle peasants' in Alavi's perception which attributes a leading role to this class in peasant uprisings such as Telengana.
The paper by Tuteja and Grewal traces the emergence of Hindu communal ideology in the Punjab from the Arya Samaj movement through to the 1920s. The development of this ideology which was rooted in the quest for identity of an urban middle class that simultaneously benefited from, as well as felt discriminated by, a colonial order, gained momentum as the competition for jobs and elected office at the local level intensified. As the national movement swept the country, however, the communal ideological stream got bifurcated, with one branch favouring cooperation, admittedly within a 'communitarian' prospective, between the Hindus and the Muslims in a common struggle against colonial rule, while another branch either turned its back upon the anti-colonial struggle altogether, or, at best, defined its position solely in terms of a 'Hindu nation*. It is this latter branch, represented by the Punjab Hindu Swaraksha Sabha, which
Social Scientist, Vol. 20, Nos. 7-«, July-August 1992