Peasants' Movements in Post-Colonial India

Peasants' Movements in Post-Colonial India

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Book DescriptionThis is an investigation of the anatomy and internal dynamics of peasant movements in India. It makes a comparative analysis of the Tebhaga (Bengal, 1946-47), Telengana (Andhra, 1948-52) and Naxalite (North Bengal, 1967-71) movements to study the ways in which grassroots mobilizations transform and institutionalize themselves, forge new collective identities and articulate new strategies for survival and resistance.

The author uses empirical data and secondary research to argue that radicalism in peasant movements is in inverse proportion to institutionalization. As spontaneous expressions of discontent against oppression and marginalization become institutionalized movements, the space for radical challenge shrinks. Therefore, in Bengal, the co-option of the peasant movement by the ruling communist party and the state has largely killed the scope for radical action. In Andhra Pradesh on the other hand, the relative independence of the grassroots mobilization process (along with logistic and ideological inputs from NGOs and radical social and Naxalite groups) has allowed the peasantry to exercise multiple options for collective action. However, in both cases, the grassroots mobilization has led to a transformation of the social identity of the peasant, and created a social environment in which issues of dominance and resistance have an important place.

The study of the Indian experience is placed in the context of theories of peasant identity and resistance tooppression. The first chapter of the book is devoted to the summing up of

sociological perspectives on peasant societies, identities and movements. It includes references to the works of Marx and Lenin, Redfield, Chayanov, Wolf and Gramsci, and, in the Indian context, Beteille, Byres and several others.

The book reexamines problems that have got relatively less importance in recent years. It seeks to understand issues that are of enduring relevance in the Indian countryside that continues to simmer with unrest even as it comes to grips with a new economic situation. The book will be of as much interest to researchers and policymakers as to the intelligent general reader.