Social Change in Soviet Central Asia
R R SHARMA, A MARXIST MODEL OF SOCIAL CHANGE:
SOVIET CENTRAL ASIA 1917-40, The Macmillan Company of India Limited, Delhi, 1979, pp IX+255, Rs 60.
THE SOVIET CENTRAL ASIA has always been the subject of debate, controversy, admiration and sometimes neglect of scholars on the Soviet Union depending on their particular persuasion on ideological matters. The present study provides a very clear and cogent account of economic and social development of that part of the Soviet Union which used to be known before the Revolution as ^Turkestan", now comprising the Soviet Asian republics of Uzhbekistan, Kirghizia, Turkmenistan and Tadzikistan.
An account of the socio-economic conditions and cultural atmosphere in Turkestan in the pre-Revolution days is the point of departure of the study. The author has been able to prove his contention that the annexation of the vast area of Turkestan by the Russian empire was necessitated by the impossibility of ^vertical expansion" of the Russian bourgeoisie because of certain inherent weaknesses, including very low level of technology. Therefore, a horizontal expansion became the first item in the agenda for opening up new markets for the absorption of goods of Russian capitalists. Railroads and other means of communication] were opened to remove the physical isolation of the new area from the centre of the empire. The linking of the Fergana valley, the rich cotton growing area with Central Russia occupied foremost econ-mic importance. Thus, in this period the seeds of capitalism in agriculture were implanted in Turkestan and the money economy replaced the traditional exchange economy (p 13). In spite of production for market in agriculture, the Beiys, or the landlords, completely dominated the relations of production and also the condi-