Social Scientist. v 4, no. 48 (July 1976) p. 38.

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Orissa s Economy in the Nineteenth Centura


THE CHANGES in the class structure of Orissa bring the question of rural credit relations to the fore. Moneylending at usurious rates in the altered social structure was considered a safe device to meet the state's demand for enhanced land revenue. Some government officials related the origin of indcbtendness to certain socio-religious institutions, and stressed the role of ^extravagance" in social ceremony. But the Deccan Riots Commission notes that expenditure on ceremonies ^forms an item of some importance on the debit side of the ryot's account, but rarely appears as the nucleus of his indebtedness".81 The fact of the matter is that the sudbivision of small holdings owing to the heavy pressure of population on cultivation, along with the decline of village industries, contributed to the flourishing of moneylending in Orissa.

The official revenue records are inclined to generalizing certain causes without advancing adequate statistical data. Increasing-population, non-availability of new cultivable land, difficulty of cultivating virgin fields owing to the paucity of capital, seeds, manure and technical knowledge, and social institutions like inheritance laws and the sense of social superiority of the Brahmins contributed towards increased subdivision and fragmentation of land. Extremely sensitive to variations in rainfall, the raising of staple food crops such as rice frequently failed.

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