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Title: Land and politics in West Bengal : a sociological study of a multi-caste village.
Author: Dasgupta, A.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1980
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This thesis concentrates on examining some aspects of rural social life of West Bengal e.g. land relations,caste and kinship organization, changing patterns of local level politics. The main arguments of this thesis have been supported by field-data which were collected in a village in the Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal. This thesis indicates that land relations influence agricultural production in multifarious ways and this comes to light when we study the internal organization of village economy e.g. the changing patterns of agrarian differentiation and relationships between different agrarian strata, the development of the land market and cash economy,and the role of usury. An analysis of each of these phenomena showS the nature of the agrarian social structure of the village. This study also shows that agricultural backwardness results from a number of socio-economic factors e.g. production relations in which usury plays an important role, lack of improvement and utili,ation of modern agricultural implements, the growing pressure of population on land which has resulted from immigration and natural growth,an underdeveloped market system and communication network,large scale evictions of the sharecroppers during the last three decades,and also failure of the political parties to organize the poor peasants under a common programme. All these factDrs have led to the process which I have described as'~roletarianization' or 'depeasantization'. Since 1950's many legistative attemts have been made to bring changes in the West Bengal villages. It is evident from this study that various pieces of legislation have been unsuccessful in reaching their objectives in terms of redistributing land to the poorest strata and protecting the interests of the tenants and landless labourers. Bengali caste and kinship systems have many peculiarities,and overwhelming importance of caste and kinship rules can easily be discerned if we look at~problems of land relatios and politics. Caste rules and practices indicate two aspects, one shows changes over a period of time, and the other points out the characteristic continuities and adaptabilities. Political system of the village is characterized by the following developments : introduction of party political ideologies in the panchayati system, diffusion of political power from the hands of the traditional leaders to a group of new p~r elites who hold Government offices in the village,developments of different types of factional ties which operate at different levels. It is evident from this study that the introduction of party political idelogies and secret ballot in the panchayati system has widened the political horizon of the village. In recent times one also notices an emergence of a number of junior Government bureaucratic cadres who enjoy a good deal of power, prestige and authority over the rest of the community. The residents of the village depend more on these new power elites than the t~aditiona1 village panchayat leaders. Besides the panchayati politics and new elites, the political wrang1ings stay alive with various factional ties and cleavages.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology