Social Scientist. v 12, no. 130 (March 1984) p. 36.

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Land, Labour and Credit Relations in a Peasant Movement Belt

SOME ATTEMPTS have been made in recent years by social scientists in our country to analyse the various economic institutions in the rural areas in terms of both market and non-market forces.1 Amit Bhaduri (1973) attempted to examine the influence exerted by the relations of production on the introduction ot improved technology into the agriculture of Birbhum district in West Bengal. The study was based on survey data from 26 villages in 1970. Bhaduri observed the following features of Birbhum agriculture: (a) sharecropping (including the system of Krishani cultivation) as the dominant form of tenancy, (b) the perpetual indebtedness of the small tenants, (c) convergence of two modes of exploitation^ viz, usury and landownership in the hands of the same landowner and (d) lack of accessibility of the small tenants to the market. According to Bhaduri, such a kind of production relations operates as a barrier to the introduction of improved technology and has more in common with classical feudaliam of the master-serf type than with industrial capitalism.

P H Prasad (1973, 1974) in his studies on production relations in three districts of Bihar (Purnea, Saharsa and Monghyr) supported the view of Bhaduri regarding the Semi-feudal relations of production m agriculture. According to the author, all the semi-proletariat households2 (based on data of 11 villages in the districts of Purnea and Saharsa) were forced to take consumption loans from the big landowners, as in most cases they were not able to meet their minimum consumption needs from their earnings. The rates of interest on such loans were so high that they,could hardly repay. Thus, as their debts accumulated over the years they were compelled to sell their small parcels of land (if any) to their landlords. In spite of selling their lands, in most cases they were not able to discharge completely their debt obligations. Thus, the landlords could force upon their direct producers in agriculture a system of unequal exchange, thereby deriving enormous economic

^Sociological Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta.

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