Social Scientist. v 5, no. 50 (Sept 1976) p. 3.


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BIPAN CHANDRA

Indian Peasantry and Motional Integration

COLONIALISM BROUGHT about momentous transformation during which the centuries-old social and economic relationships and institutions were dissolved and replaced by the new. In the realm of agriculture too, new agrarian relations and class structure came into being: new classes., absentee landlords and moneylenders at the top, and tenants-at-will, sharecroppers and agricultural labourers at the bottom. A new agrarian structure was born that was neither traditional nor feudal nor capitalist. There occurred growth of tenancy, and a hierarchy of intermediaries between the state and the actual cultivator on an unprecedented scale. By 1931, one third of the rural population was landless and most of the remaining two thirds were. tenants-at-will, sharecroppers and petty peasant-proprietors. Not that exploitative elements were introduced afresh. Economic inequality, political and economic oppression by zamin-dars and maliks, status differences, and caste domination had prevailed in ample measure earlier. But the pattern of such domination and exploitation was now transformed. Moreover, old institutions and relationships were not consciously overthrown but were sought to be superimposed. Consequently, they disintegrated and along with them disappeared some of the social protection to the lower castes and classes provided by mutual help and enforcement of custom though within the limits of the old



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