Social Scientist. v 7, no. 82 (May 1979) p. 83.


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BOOK REVIEW

JOAN P MENCHER: AGRICULTURE AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE IN TAMIL NADU: PAST ORIGINS, PRESENT TRANSFORMATIONS AND FUTURE PROSPECTS, New Delhi, Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1978, pp 314, Rs 60.

THE theme of the book is clearly stated in the very first paragraph of the (€xt (as also in the blurb) as follows: "This book is concerned with the social forces that accelerate or impede change. It focuses primarily on agriculture, because of the crucial importance of agriculture in any social system ... It attempts to examine the structure of society and the structure of agriculture in Tamil Nadu, and particularly in Ghingleput district, as they arc today and in historical perspective, in order to ask what possibilities exist for development to occur. Which developments are possible, or conceivable? Which obstacles are insurmountable under present conditions?"

The book is the result of studies conducted over a period of nearly 15 years, largely field work done by the author herself. But it is more than the report of the field studies of a few villages conducted by an anthropologist. It is quite a comprehensive treatment of the complex and multi-dimensional phenomenon of development. As a background to the study of agriculture in the district, there is a detailed discussion of the physical features of the district concentrating particularly on rainfall and irrigation facilities which play the most crucial role in paddy production. This is follower by a history of land tenure relations from the eighteenth century onwards going into the variety of tenurial patterns in vogue now. The caste base of land ownership, tenancy and agricultural operations is then examined. This is followed by a detailed analysis of the class structure in the villages dividing the popul-



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