Changing Agricultural Practices and their Impact on Rural Social Institutions in Uttar Pradesh, India

Kumar, Dhananjay (2018) Changing Agricultural Practices and their Impact on Rural Social Institutions in Uttar Pradesh, India. PhD thesis.

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The ultimate goal of agriculture is to produce food. All of the agricultural practices are done by people. So, agriculture deals with crop and people who are engaged in agriculture. Through centuries, culture and agriculture has shared an intertwining and complementary relationship. Contrary to popular belief, agriculture does not merely revolve around seeds, soil, sun and rain, but also, speaks about people. It also consists of complexities of intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships and its contribution in the planning and production of each seasons’s crop. Thus, agriculture shows characteristics of, intrinsically being a cultural activity. Because food production is so central to human life, scholars have had a long interest in agriculture, its origins, and its effects on population and society. Scholars generally emphasize two major revolutions in agricultural history: the Neolithic revolution and the Industrial Revolution that allowed food to be produced in ever greater quantities for a capitalist society. This thesis starts from another kind of revolution –Green Revolution. It pays special attention to the range of post- green revolution farming practices and their relationship with the social institution in north India. Generally, unfamiliarity is evident in context of agricultural technology and its relationship with culture. It is only some recent insightful studies of social impact of agricultural practices on social institutions have become available. Nevertheless, our ignorance of this aspect of Indian villages is enormous. For example, we know more about technology induced change in land revenue, and economic transformation than about change in family and inter-caste relationship. More importantly, we know very little about how the agricultural practices influenced the agro- based belief system. This thesis is an exploration of some of the relatively unexplored aspects of Indian village community during last seven decades. It tries to do so through the application of social anthropological ideas and approach. It portrays one village community, their agricultural practices and change in some institutions. To explore the nature of a large universe through the study of a small community is well-established practice in social anthropology, and it is being tried here for agricultural practices and social institutions with, I hope, significant results. This thesis deals primarily with the social institution and agricultural practices of a village in western Uttar Pradesh, northern India, roughly during the last six decades. The village selected for the study is Liloha, situated in Mawana Block (Sub-division), of Meerut district.
Agriculture holds a pivotal place in the economy of Uttar Pradesh (UP) in terms of both income and employment around which economic privileges and deprivations revolve. The State of Uttar Pradesh has significant bearing on the agricultural performance at the national level. It produces about one fifth of the total food grains produced in the country, which is the highest among all states. About one third of the total wheat (34 %) and sugarcane (35%) in the country is from Uttar Pradesh (GoUP, 2015). With the passage of time the state Government along with the central Government has adopted and implemented various schemes and projects along with the Green Revolution to increase the agricultural production to meet the ever increasing demands.
Though with the introduction of the Green Revolution, while on the one hand the country’s agricultural production increased, in the other hand the socio-cultural scenario was at crossroads of economic prosperity and social disparity. The review of available literature suggests that though various scholars have given emphasis on agricultural production and agrarian relations, there are not too many studies that are specific to the context of green revolution and its impact on agro-based religion and rituals (Bhattacharya, 1976; N. Mishra, 2008; Samaddar & Das, 2008b) Hence, the present study is an attempt to fill this knowledge gap in the literature on the region. To achieve the desired results this study intends to operationalize the diffusion of new agricultural practices system from green revolution to present day. Since social change can be reflected with longer time duration, the study intended to view impact on the rural social-cultural institution using detailed anthropological data of the agriculture system. Everyday agriculture life is linked, and invariably, persists to be affected by specific practices of inter-caste relations, family and political structure, and agro-based religious beliefs. This thesis intends to capture these changes and continuities of rural life. The present thesis is organized into seven chapters. Chapter one introduces the subject maters of the green revolution technology and rural social institutions. Existing literatures are reviewed based on different sub-themes and methodology used for them. Chapter two provides an overview of the studied village and region. It discusses a brief history of the region, topography and climate, soils and flora and fauna. The chapter three deals with the institutional arrangement at the state, district, tehsil, block and village levels to show the technological transformation in agriculture. It describes the agro-climatic conditions, land use and cropping pattern in the state. The chapter four deals with agrarian and Jajmani relations. Intercaste relations categorizes into two types–community level and household level. Both relationships are showing the sign of change and continuity. The advent of agricultural modernization has severely affected the household level services than the community level services. With the increase of mechanization of agriculture these relationships are altered. While some are transformed into a new form, others are extinct at present. The replacement of tractor in place of plough left no room for erstwhile harwaha (ploughmen), who predominantly belong to Jatav community. The penetration of capitalism in agriculture has replaced Siri/Sanjhi (partner or sharer, mutual sharing of labour) with casual and attached labour and the basis of employing attached labour (Naukkar) on a fixed annual rate. The present day 'Naukkar' become purely a formal employee and employer relationship.The Majdoor relationship with the landowner is now more formal and dominance of the landowner is lost. There is new form of interdependence among farmer and labourer found in the village. The present study shows that a majority of the households feel that the landowners and the agricultural labourers are mutually interdependent. This mechanization in agriculture has not brought a tremendous effect on traditional landowner and service Jatis. Even in contemporary times, the patrons of the village render economic services, give advices, mediate disputes, and use their influences on the authorities for the interest of their clients. Therefore, it can be argued that the jajmani as a form still exists, but the content of it has changed. This means that the motives and functions of different Jati still exist, while only the change has occurred in person to person or in institution to institution relations. Whatever change has occurred is noticed only in the periphery of this relation, but the core philosophy that is spirit of dharma still exists.
Chapter five conveys that the technological transformation in agriculture has both directly and indirectly influenced the structure and function of the family. The present study shows that the joint family is structurally breaking down, but the functional continuity is still there. The percentages of the number of joint family continue to dominate among the landowning castes. However, small and landless farmers, agricultural labourers and lower Jati witness a lot of change in their traditional structure of the family. The changing structure and function of the family have brought certain change in other social institutions like political and economic institutions of the study village. The fragmentation of land holding, which is the result of structural break down of joint families, which has weakened the economic condition of the landowners. The advent of new technology in agriculture has brought certain changes in the age- old traditional and political institutions of the village. In some extent, the Jats, who were playing a dominant role in the village, have lost their traditional dominance. The rise of class like interests has affected the age-old equilibrium of the Jati group to some extent. In the day to day political behaviours, the members of the village have often thrown their weights in favour of those who belong to their class rather than to their Jati. Traditionally, the land was the main source of power of the village. But along with technological transformation, the emergence of adult franchise, higher education have opened up new avenues for acquisition of power. The power of the emerging leader of the villages not only based on land but also on their numerical support within the village and political contact outside it. Along with land reforms, the adult franchise, the higher education have raised the economic status of the poor Jatis also.
Chapter six noted the impact of modern farm practices on the agro-based religion, rites, rituals and folklores. No doubt, the advent of modernization of agriculture has brought a change in traditional religion, rites, rituals and folklores. But these changes are not so rapid. The development of irrigation system has raised the people's confidence on themselves. As a result, it has changed the farmers’ perceptions of worshipping of some God and Goddess. But some of the rituals have almost become obsolete; some others have lost their importance, partly due to the changing agricultural practices. In the traditional times, proverbs and saying in the village were helping the farmers in linking relationship between natural indicators and production of crops. However, it was noticed, during the field work, that villagers remembered limited number of proverbs concerned with agricultural activities than folk knowledge of other aspects of life. It is also observed that the disappearance of proverbs related to bullocks and bullock carts, weather, ploughs have resulted in disappearance of their actual use. On the other hand, proverbs of buffalo still persist. The extensive use of tractors and power tillers has reduced the age-old tradition of ritual prohibition. Now-a-days, some of them are tilling their land on the day of full moon and new moon, which is traditionally prohibited. Although there is a general trend of decline in relying upon the traditional knowledge of production and weather related phenomena stored in the minds of the farmers in various forms of oral traditions, these are preserved more by some Jatis than others. Here, the study likes to suggest certain points. As agriculture occupies a pivotal place in Uttar Pradesh, certain developmental steps should be taken with proper understanding of the culture of a community to improve it. Before the introduction of an innovation in agriculture, we should study the cultural resistance of the people to this innovation. The sphere of rites and rituals provides a very important area of study for social and cultural anthropologists. They manifest a scheme of the people's values and thus give us an idea of the culture of a community. So the social and cultural anthropologists should try to understand the values cherished through them, which would give a complete idea of the way of life of the people practicing the rituals. Important elements of the worldview of the persons in the community could be constructed through a study of their rites and rituals. This will pave the way for introduction of better technology and development innovations into Indian agriculture. It can also help in reaching the development to the poor, thereby reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Agriculture; Agro-climatic Zones; Micro Irrigation system
Subjects:Humanities & Social Sciences > Agriculture Economics
Humanities & Social Sciences > Developmental Sociology
Divisions: Social Sciences > Department of Humanities & Social Sciences
ID Code:9447
Deposited By:IR Staff BPCL
Deposited On:29 Sep 2018 14:50
Last Modified:29 Sep 2018 14:50
Supervisor(s):Mishra, Niharranjan

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