Social Scientist. v 8, no. 92 (March 1980) p. 22.


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BARBARA HARRISS

Regulated Foodgrains Markets: A Critique

THE involvement of the Indian state in the sphere of marketing long lagged behind its involvement in agricultural production.1 One way in which the state attempts to reallocate resources and change relations of production and exchange within society is through market regulation. It was in 1929 that the Royal Commission on Agriculture stressed the necessity of establishing regulated markets under provincial legislation. The objective of market regulation is to eliminate unnecessary activities in commerce that are unproductive of use value—"to organise the system of sale and purchase in a manner that the grower secures a fair price ...to protect him from exploitation by middlemen.... The legislation provides a machinery for regulating trade by providing a common place where facilities would be furnished by way of space, buildings and storage accommodation, where correct weigh-ment would be ensured and all weights and scales periodically checked ...where disputes are settled, where daily prevailing prices would be available to the grower and where quality standards would be fixed.?!>2

In providing physical infrastructure and in standardizing the organization of transactions in commodity markets, the state thus creates the structural and behavioural conditions for an effec-



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