DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of India Notes Chapter 5 Colonial Economy and Society
Discuss the statement that “in the economic sphere, British rule in India was curse”
Give an account of the economic condition of Northern India in 19th century.
How did the doctrine of ‘Laissez Faire’influence the growth of Indian trade in 19th century.
Give a critical account of British tariff in the 19th century.
Indian economy on the eve of British Rule:
Ancient India was a rich and prosperous country. It had been nicknamed as the ‘Golden Sparrow’. Wealth of India was considered to be abundant. The standard of living of Indians was very high. Foreign travellers to India frequently reported a general prosperity. India had achieved a high industrial development. India’s industrial skill was admired everywhere.
Even Roman Empire used to purchase large quantities of Indian luxury fabrics. Romans used to pay India in gold and silver for these commodities. At one time the Muslim of Dacca, the beautiful woolen shawls of Kashmir the fine linens calicos and the brocades of Delhi were famous throughout the World. India had a well developed metal industry also. The famous iron pillar at Delhi is a standing testimony to it.
The ship building industry was also in a prosperous state. In addition a number of handicrafts flourished both in the rural and the urban areas. The Britishers ruled over India for about 200 years. During this period a policy of systematic exploitation and loot of the Indian economy was followed. As a result, the old economic organisation of India broke down, industrial structure collapsed, burden on agriculture mounted, and hence the poverty increased.
In all fairness to the British Government in India we can discuss the effects of the British rule in India under two heads, viz.,
(a) Constructive role of the British rule, and
(b) Destructive role of the British rule.
(a) Constructive Role of the British Rule.
There was a silver lining to the British rule in India, inspite of the fact that the Britishers had always been prompted by their narrow interest. The Britishers fulfilled: be roleofas Karl Marx, the father of communism puts it, “the unconscious tool of history” in the political, social and economic development of India.
The Britishers did the following favours to the Indian society –
(i) By destroying the old social order the Britishers laid down the material basis for a new social order. The new social order is a pre-condition for economic growth.
(ii) The new social order helped break the rigidities of the caste system.
(iii) The anglicised education was imposed. It opened the avenues to the great stream of English democratic and popular inspiration. It laid the seeds of Indian Nationalism and found expression in such movements as Swadeshi.
(iv) The Britishers introduced the railway system and a vast net work of transportation and communications. These became the fore-runner of the industrial development of India.
(v) Above all, the political and economic unification of the country was achieved for the first time under British rule.
(vi) The Britishers developed the most modem and efficient system of communication.
The first telegraph line was operated in 1853 between Calcutta and Agra. The first postage stamp was released in 1852. Adequate improvements were made in the postal service. They made it possible to avail postal facility at a uniform rate throughout the country. Development of the post and telegraphs helped the integration of the different regions and accelerated the process of economic growth by facilitating the development of trade, commerce and industry.
Destructive Role of British Rule:
It is for” its destructive role that the British rule in India is remembered. The destructive role of the British rule can be put under the following heads –
(I) Decay of Indigenous Industries:
Before the British rule, India had a well organised industry. With the arrival of the British, Indian industry began to decline. The process of decline began as early as the end of 18th century. It became very steep towards the middle of 19th century. Following causes were responsible for the decline :
(a) The disappearance of the native Indian Courts:
Urban organised industry in India produced chiefly luxury and semi-luxury articles. These were generally purchased by aristocrats. Aristocracy consisted of native Rajas, Nawabs and their courtiers. With the establishment of the British rule in India, native rulers began to disappear.
Their courtiers and officials were thrown into the back ground. Their disappearance meant the closure of the main source of demand for the products of these industries. The abolition of the courts meant that the fine articles which were in demand by the nobles for states occasions were no longer required. Hence began the decline of so many handicrafts and art.
(b) Lack of patronage from the new upper class:
As the old aristocracy and courts vanished, their position was now occupied in the towns by two classes – the European officials and the new educated class. The European officials and the European tourists demanded the local products merely as souvenirs and curios. As such they wanted goods at the goods produced. In many cases artists were forced to copy European designs and patterns. They worked hard to satisfy their customers. The products occasionally were had copies of the originals.
The new class of educated Indians was proud to copy European fashions. They hated everything Indian. They blindly imitated the western ways to please their masters. Apart from this slavish mentality sometimes some unwritten rule or convention also forced these Indians to behave like that.
Thus the decay of the embroidered shoe industry was brought about by a strange convention. This convention permitted an Indian to retain a pair of leather shoes on slockinged feet only. It also required him to put off shoes of native make when in the presence of a superior. Lack of patronage and demand for this new class accelerated the decline of indigenous industries.
(c) Weakening of the guilds:
The British rule affected handicrafts in another way also. Urban artisans and craftsmen were organised in the form of guilds. The guilds supervised the quality of the products. They also regulated the trade. With the entry of British traders these guilds lost their power. As soon as supervising to dies were removed many evils began to appear. These were, for example, the adulteration of materials, shoddy and poor workmanship etc. This at once led to a decline in the artistic and commercial value of the goods produced.
(d) Competition with machine made goods:
The competition from the European manufacturers was responsible fair the decline of the local industry. The construction of roads and railways made it possible to distribute the goods to every nook and comer of the country. Opening of the Suez Canal reduced the physical distance between England and India.
English goods in large quantities were sent for sale in India. Among these goods textiles was the most important item. The quality of these clothes was definitely poor as compared to Indian clothes. But they were cheap’. They were within the reach even of the poor man. Hence, these imported clothes and other machine made goods came to be demanded in large quantities. Local handicrafts lost their demand.
(II) Destructive role of the British Government in India. The British Government in India was more interested in the development of industries at the home. Thus Government sacrificed all the interests of the local industries. The policies adopted by the Government were very harmful for indigenous industries.
For example, British goods were allowed to come to India without any duty or barrier. On the other hand Indian exports of manufactured goods had to pay heavy customs duties. An unfair competition was its result. Many such instances of the British policy can be quoted. The simple consequence of this policy was that Indian industries suffered. Ultimatelymany of them closed down for good.
Such was the fate of Indian industries at that time. It looks very ironical. Just imagine the following situation. Industrial Revolution was booming in England and other western countries. It was the same western countries which were considered backward in relation to India. But simultaneously in the rich India, industries began to decline. In other words process of “de – industrialisation” of India began. The industrial labour was rendered unemployed. It began to fall back upon agriculture.
It increased the pressure on land. Land was divided and subdivided into smallholdings. Agricultural productivity fell down and agriculture thus became a backward industry. This process of decline continued till the end of World war I. After the War the Britishers realised the significance of a developed industrial economy in India from the military point of view. A developed industry in India could have easily helped them keep running the supply lines during the War. But by then great harm had already been done to the indigenous industry.
(a) Decay of old towns ; Growth of new cities:
Another impact of the British rule in India was the movement of population from the old towns to the new trading centres. These trading centres were situated in the cities. Thus many new cities developed. But at the same time many important towns began to decay. Among these important towns were Mirzapur, Murshidabad, Malda, Santipore, Tanjore, Amritsar, Dacca etc. Among the important cities that developed were Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore, Nagpur, Karpura and Karachi, Lahore (now in Pakistan) Chitetagong (Bangladesh) Rangoon (Burma) etc. These cities grew in importance as great commercial towns. The main causes responsible for decay of old towns were as follows –
(b) The decay of Urban Handicrafts:
The decay of urban handicrafts following the disappearance of the royal courts brought about a decrease in the population of the old Indian towns. As the craftsmen lost their occupations, they turned to agricultur e.They shifted to villages.
(c) Diversion of Trade Routes:
Introduction of railways in India by the Britishers opened up new means of transportation. Some of the old towns were prosperous because they were located on some important trade routes. For example Mirzapur was an important trading centre because of its location on the Ganga. With the introduction of railways, old routes and old means of transportation lost their importance. Hence, the old towns also began to lose their significance.
(d) Epidemics and insanitary conditions in old towns:
Most of the old towns had become stagnant. These were vulnerable to diseases. Frequent outbreak of epidemics like plague and cholera was a common feature. Such epidemics took a heavy toll on the urban population. These, therefore, also drove a large population from the urban areas.
In this way many old towns lost their importance. But simultaneously commerce and trade encouraged the growth of new cities. Some of the important factors that were responsible for the growth of new cities were as follows:
(a) Concentration of trade in big cities:
The biggest single cause of the rise of big cities is the concentration of trade. It means that most of the producers, distributors etc. open offices in big cities. It is because of the fact that big cities offer better marketing facilities to the traders. Traders are attracted to these places from small towns and rural areas. This is what happened during the British rule. The British promoted trade and commerce in our country. This was concentrated only in a few cities. These cities grew in importance.
(b) Higher Wages in big cities:
New and big cities generally offer more job opportunities. With the growth of trade and commerce job opportunities in big cities were increasing. At the same time large number of artisans and craftsmen were being thrown out of their jobs in semi urban areas. These unemployed artisans, village craftsmen and landless agricultural workers were shifting to big cities in search of jobs. It was because agriculture had already become crowded. Thus big cities attracted large labour force.
(c) Centralisation of administration:
The Britishers adopted a new system of administration. Government offices came to be located in big cities. These places were known as district headquarters. These cities grew at the expense of small towns in the districts. These Government offices were also a good source of jobs. A large part of the urban population came to depend on the government service for their living. It led to the migration of population to these cities.
This resulted in growth of cities. In other countries growth of cities was always encouraged by establishment of industries. In India on the hand influence of industry had been totally lacking. This was because that old industries were dying out at that time; new industries were not coming forth. Growth of trade and commerce was in the interest of the Britishers. Therefore, trade and commerce had more influence on the decay of towns and cities.
(III) Introduction of Railways – a trade and military oriented network. India is a vast country. It extends from Kanyakumari in the south to Kashmir in the north. For such a large country means of transportation and communication play a crucial role. Political, social and economic integration of the country depends to a large extent on the availability at cheep and easy means of transportation and communication.
In this sense only, the Britishers made a significant contribution, to the economic progress of India. They introduced railways in the country. First railway train ran from Bombay to Thane a distance of 21 miles – on 16th April, 1853. The advantages of railways from the economic point of view are very clear.
Railways have made it possible to fight famines and food scarcities even in distant regions. Growth of trade and commerce always depends on railways. Railways also make it possible to make better use of resources like raw materials etc. lying at different places. They help in the movement of population. The growth of towns, port development etc. are possible because of railways.
However, during the British rule railways did not make much headway towards the economic development of the country. As a matter of fact, the Britishers never wanted railways to act as an agent of economic progress. The motive behind railway construction was never industrial and economic development of the country.
The motive was to open up India more completely, so that the far flung areas should be easily accessible. That would make it easy for the Britishers to exploit the resources of the country in a better way for their own interests. Following reasons explain why the Britishers accepted the scheme of railway construction in India. These throw light on their real motives also.
(i) Transportation of raw materials:
Industrial Revolution started in England around the beginning of the 19th century. A number of large industries, especially cotton textiles had been established in England. The wheels of these industries were fed up by raw materials supplies from English Colonies. India was a rich source of supply of raw cotton to the British industries.
The raw cotton bales were carried by bullock carts. These carts delivered cotton to big centres. These used to cover long distances. It was submitted by the cotton traders and manufacturers in England that when cotton was transported by bullock carts dirt used to get mixed with it. The Lancashire textile mills wanted good, clean cotton for their use. Only railway transport could meet their need.
(ii) Market for manufactured goods:
Another essential requirement of the Industrial Revolution in England was that there must be profitable sources of sale for manufactured goods. England in itself is a small country. Large quantity of manufactured goods could not be sold there. India on the other hand could offer them a very large market. For that it was essential that the country should be opened up. Far flung areas should be made accessible by easy and cheap means of transportation. Railway served the purpose.
(iii) Military considerations:
The Britishers were a foreign power. They were ruling over India. India is spread far and wide. It was necessary for the Britishers to join different comers of the country. Their strength and power was often challenged and put the test by the local people in one region or the other. The Britishers had to meet this challenge by mobilising troops and military stores. No other means of transportation could make fast mobilisation possible. Only railways did that.
In short the Britishers had their own selfish interest in construction of railways in India. The military and trade considerations prompted them to do this. They were never interested in industrial and economic needs of India Same was with the railways also. Railways have contributed much to economic progress especially after independence. We do acknowledge our debt to the Britishers for this gift.
However, during the British rule railways contributed more to the destruction of our economy rather than its construction. The adverse effects of railway construction wore innumerable.
Adverse Effects of Railways in India:
(i) Decline of urban handicrafts. One of the most serious consequences of railway construction’in India was the decline of urban handicrafts. With the growth of railways, the mills of Lancashire and Manchester entered in a big way in Indian markets. The mill made goods posed a serious challenge to the local handicrafts. These handicrafts could not stand ‘cost price warfare’. They ultimately decayed out.
(ii) Growth of colonial character of one trade:
Railways contributed to the expansion of trade in our country. But this expansion of trade was more of the colonial character. Railways made it possible to arrange for mass distribution of manufactured goods of England. They also made it possible to collect agricultural raw materials even from the remote comers of the country for supply to England. Thus the composition of trade that emerged was as follows : India used to import manufactured goods and export raw materials – a really colonial character of foreign trade.
In short railways were used as a tool of economic exploitation by the Britishers. It failed to act as an agent of growth during that period of history. It served the trade and military interests of the Britishers.
What was called the economic drain by patriot economists? Explain.
Drainage Of National Wealth:
Drainage of National Wealth. The Britishers were tempted by the immerse wealth of India. They took to large scale plunge of it. They began to carry its capital and wealth to England on such a large scale that many historians and economists correctly labelled it as the “Economic Drain”. Among them the name of Dadabhai Naroji, and C.N. Vakil are worth mentioning.
This process of wealth and capital drain from India continued unchecked almost for 200 years. Even the richest nation would have been ruined when such inhuman treatment was given to it. India too could not survive these constant onslaughts. When the Britishers left India in 1947 Indian economy was completely shattered. It was thrown out of balance. The rich and prosperous land of India had been “converted into a country of hewers of wood and drawers of water.”
The Economic Drain and its Various Forms:
It was in his paper “England’s debt to India.” Dadabhai Naroji first put forward the idea that British were extracting wealth from India as the price of her rule in India”, that out of the revalues raised in India nearly one fourth going clean out of the country and is added to the resources of England and that India was consequently being continuously bled.
According to a British officer, “our economy works more or less like a sponge through which all good things near the banks of Ganges (India) were soaked and later on released near the bank of Tames (England).
The drain began at the time when the East India Company kept aside a potion of the Indian revenue for their commercial investments. The situation got worsened as the British rule progressed in India. It was as if Indian’s wealth began to pour away through outlets. The drain of Indian wealth took many forms. Some of these were as follows:
(i) The drain look the form of an excess of exports over imports.
(ii) Another important constituent of the drain was the remittance to England of a part of their salaries, incomes and savings by English, civil military, railway employees lawyers and doctors. It also included the payment of the pensions and furlough allowances to the English officials in England by the Government of India.
(iii) Another major fountain head of the drain from India was that of the
Home Charges of the Government of India. The Home Charges referred to the expenditure incurred in England by the Secretary of State on behalf of the Indian Government ‘
(iv) Another major source of the drain was the profits of private foreign capital invested in trade of industry in India.
The Britishers fought many battles in India. Most of these battles were fought against the Indian rulers. India had to bear the bill relating to. the expenditure on the British army. The Britisher pleaded that their victory in these battles will bring stability and strength to the Indian economy.
Economic Effects of Brain:
The drain was the very fountain head of all economic evils in India. Some of the important economic consequences of the drain ware:
(i) The most important evil attributed to the drain was that of impoverishing the country, Dadabhai Naoroji declared the drain to be the real, the principal and even the sole can of the ills, the sufferings and the poverty of India. He believed all other reasons and causes to be “only red herrings drawn across the path”.
(ii) Nearly one half of India’s net annual revenue flawed out of the country. This resulted in the reduction of national product and was a major evil of the drain.
(iii) Transfer of national wealth abroad had an important and harmful impact on income and employment within the country. The drain represented not only the spending abroad of a certain portion of national income but also the further loss of employment and income that would have been generated inside the country of that amount had been spent inside it.
(iv) The drain made possible the luxurious living on the part of the foreigners. What foreigners consumed in India caused a partial loss to the people of India because it represented the ‘eating up a goods and services which, Indians would have otherwise consumed: ”
(v) The drain was injurious because accumulation of capital was being checked and retarded by the removal of large part of its currently accumulating capital to foreign land.
(vi) The drain by producing shortage of capital i.e. the country rendered industrial development on which depended the economic salvation of India. The chief responsibility for the slow growth of modem industry in India lay at the head of the drain.
(vii) The drain facilitated the penetration and exploitation of India by foreign capital. This is did in two ways:
(a) By preventing the accumulation of capital within India and by this prostrating internal capital, the drain permitted foreign capitalists to exploit the country without having to face any indigenous competition. It helped the foreign, capital to monopolise and reap all the advantages of India’s internal resources, and
(b) The drain acted as the chief source of the accumulation of foreign capital invented in India, for a large part of the drain was brought back to India as foreign capital.
(viii) The drain primarily represented the impoverishment of the peasantry. The dram was mainly paid out of the land revenue.
(ix) The drain produced the secondary injury of worsening India’s terms of trade with foreign countries. Because the drain involved the maintenance of an export surplus. It tended to give compulsory character to India’s exports.
India had to export or perish. Consequently India had to depress the price level of its exports to persuade the foreign purchasers to buy them. In other words as a result of the drain, the terms on which India exchanged its exports for imports ware tamed against it.
Summing up the evil consequences of the drain, the noted economist historian Ramesh Dutta observed in his book – ’’Economic History of India.”
“So great an economic drain out of the resources of a land would impoverish the most prosperous countries on earth; it has reduced India to a land of famines more frequent, more wide spread and more fatal than any known before in the history of India or of the world.
Any other country would have been totally crushed under the weight of the burden; it goes to the credit of India that its economic structure never got shattered and to a degree with stood the onslaughts of the British policy. But, when the Britishers left India free in 1947 it was reduced to a poor and backward economy.
Famine means non-availability of the bare minimum food for subsistence. Such a situation arises when wide spread drought conditions prevail in a country. Before the arrival of the Britishers in India the Indian villages were self-sufficient and they also catered to the food requirements of the urban population. The Britishers gave a new turn to the village set up and as a result of that the economic life in India became more stagnant.
Recurrence of famines became a normal and regular phenomenon. About 22 major famines were reported from all over the country during 1770-1900. The most severe of them was the famine of Bengal in 1770. It took to toll of 35 percent population of Bengal. In another major famine of Western Uttar Pradesh in 1860-61 about 2 lakhs people lost their lives. The most devastating was the famine of Bengal in 1943 which took a heavy toll of over 30 lakh human lives.
Causes of Famines:
The main causes responsible for frequent famines during the British rule were as follows—
(i) Failure of Monsoon and other natural calamities:
Indian agriculture depended fully on the monsoon. The Britishers did not make adequate arrangements for irrigation, on the other hand they neglected the development
of irrigation facilities. Failure of rains was the main cause of famines. Similarly failure of crops due the other natural calamities also caused scarcity of food
(ii) Commercialisation of Agriculture and decline of self-reliance:
The Britishers did a great injury to the old economic structure and destroyed it completely. In the old order the cultivators produced food grains for self consumption. They used to keep sufficient stock of food grains for facing eventualities like famines, droughts etc. under the new system the cultivator was required to pay the rent in cash. Therefore, it became obligatory for the cultivator to sell off his produce in the market and repurchase it for self consumptions. So in case of Crop failure the poor cultivator had to suffer untold miseries.
(iii) Inadequate growth of means of transportation and communication:
British rulers did not care much to develop the transport system. Though a net work of railways was developed but it was only to help the Britishers to keep their strong hold on the Indian soil. Lack of the means of transportation and communication obstructed the free and quick movement of food articles from one region to another at the time of famine.
(iv) Export of Food grains:
The business community further aggravated the famine conditions by indulging in hoarding black marketing and other profit making activities.
Chronic poverty of the people was also responsible for the pathetic conditions of famines. People could not store foodgrains to provide for the emergency conditions because of their merge money income. The Indian farmer was under heavy debt, his land holdings were small and scattered, and the average productivity of land was also very low.
The devastating effects of 1876-78 famine compelled the British Government to do something substantial to check the recurrence of famines in India. The first Famine commission was set up in 1878 under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Strachey. The commission x recommended state interference in food trade in the event of famine. India witnessed another major in 1896-97. Therefore, the Second Famine Commission was set up in 1897. Under the chairmanship of Sir James Lyall.
This commission recommended the development of irrigation facilities. The Third Famine Commission was set up in 1901. This commission recommended that the official machinery dealing with a famine must work all the year round so that the scarcity of foodgrains could be controlled well in time. Though all the three Famine Commissions worked sincerely and vigorously but the British Government was never serious in dealing with the welfare plans for the masses. Famines continued to occur and the Famine of Bengal 1943 was the most horrifying. This was the gift of the British rule of India.
The early phase of the British rule in India is characterised by direct loot and plunder of the wealth of India. Gradually this loot and plunder paved the way for more systematic colonial exploitation of the Indian economy first by the industrial capitalist and then by die finance capital. All the interests of the Indian economy were sacrificed at the altar of British interests. Indians old system which showed a fine harmony between agriculture and industry crumbled down under the weight of the British interests. India was reduced to the status of a colonial appendage of the British empire.
New Revenue Settlements:
Lord Cornwallis Permanent Settlement of 1793 created a number of absentee land lords. The assessment was arbitrary. No account was taken of the festiUty of the soil and area of land. The Zamindars who were unable to meet their dues based parts of their estates to middle men. The rights of the ryots were sacrificed. The permanent settlement was extended to Orissa, Banaras and to the Northern Sirkars in 1802-05.
Ryotwari settlement was adopted in Madras. The settlement was made directly with the cultivator for a period of years. A direct relationship was created between the Government and the cultivator. The ryot enjoyed free lessee as long as he paid legal dues. The system increased the security of the cultivator and removed the Zamindar and middleman.
Mahalwari or village settlement was adopted in Punjab, Qudh, Delhi. The settlement was not made with industrial landlords but with the village as such. The villagers as a whole both collectively and individually became responsible for the payment of revenue for the whole village.
Monopoly Vs Free Trade:
The East India Company enjoyed monopoly trade. Its opposition came from the British manufacturers in the make of Industrial Revolution. The free traders won their victory when the Charter Act of 1813 abolished East India Company’s monopoly of trade with India. By 1830 instead had been converted into a net importer of cotton from Manchester. The company which had been making much profit from Indian trade now lost it. The Charter Act of1833 abolished the company’s monopoly of China trade also.
Discuss the features of Indian economy under colonial rule at the eve of Independence.
Discuss the condition of various economic sectors of India in 1947.
Features Of Indian Economy Under Colonial Rule:
Indian Economy in 1947 :
The India of 1947, under British rule, was very poor :it showed all the signs of what is today called an underdeveloped country. A structural crisis was approaching and could be foreseen from the growing contradiction between the increase of the birth-rate and the sluggishness of industrial development.
Composition of national income :
The low degree of economic development can be judged from the following official statistics (v. Estimates of National Income 1948-9 to 1955-6, C.S.O. p.3.). They show how income is distributed according to each type of industry.
Distribution of National Income per Sector
(In Percentage of total Income) year 1948-9(1)
1. Agriculture, stock-breeding and auxiliary activities – 48.1
2. Forestry – 0.7
3. Fisheries – 0.3
4. Agricultural total – 49.1
Mines, manufacturing industries, small enterprises
5. Mines – 0.7
6. Industrial establishments – 6.3
7. Small enterprises 10.1
8. Total 17.1
Trade transport and communications
9. Postal services – 0.3
10. Railways – 2.0
11. Organized banks and insurance companies – 0.6
12. Other trades and transports – 15.6
13. Trade etc. total – 18.5
14. Professions, teaching, health services, justice, etc. – 5.0
15. Administration – 4.6
16. Domestic services – 1.6
17. Building rent – 4.5
18. Total of other services – 15.7
19. Net national product at factor cost – 100.12
20. Transfers abroad – 0.2
21. National Income – 100.0
As can be seen, agricultural activities furnish nearly one half of the National Income. Mines, factories, and small craftsmen’s work only give one- sixth, even lower than the figure for trade, transport and communications, and hardly greater than that fór other services.
The Capitalist Sector income from property:
The capitalist sector of the economy, based upon the exploitation of hired labour, can be considered to consists mainly of the mines, the industrial establishments, the railways, the organized banks and the insurance companies, as well as of some parts of the agricultural and commercial spheres.
If we assume this to be the case, the portion absorbed by the capitalist sector (both public and private) in the income from agriculture, industry, trade and transports is probably in the region of 30 percent. (2) The percentage includes both wages paid by the capitalist sector and also profits, interest, etc.
This relatively low figure should not be taken to indicate that the capitalist sector’s role in the Indian economy is negligible. On the contrary, the enterprises of this sector play a decisive role in the dynamics of the economy.
They control the essential part of financial transactions and have the greatest direct influence on the price-levels. These are the enterprises which determine the major part of investment (and therefore of future development) and which furnish the most important products in so far as expansion of productive capacity is concerned: notably coal, electricity, oil, cement, steel, machines, and the means of rapid transportation. They also produce the essential market goods in the field of agriculture.
The 30 percent quoted above must obviously not be confused with the percentage of the National Income constituted by income from property. This 30 percent includes wages but does not include the income from property coming from outside this sector, either in the form of ground rent or in the form of an even more pre-capitalist method of exploiting other people’s labour.
If income from property and from capital are combined, these also form something like 30 percent of the National Income.
The fact that only a relatively small part of the incomes mentioned above – less than half – comes from modern industry and trade shows the importance of pre-capitalist relationships in the Indian economy.
The existence of such relationships on so large a scale is a great obstacle in the way of India’s economic development: the income of landlords and money lenders harms the true producers (the peasants), who cannot both pay their debts and also better their means of production while those who earn the income do not in general use it for productive investment but more often for buying land, for speculation, and for further money-lending.
This is one reason why the part of the National Income used for investments was only 5.2 percent in 1948-9 and 6.2 percent in 1950-1. We shall return to this point later.
The Working Force
The relative importance of the various industrial activities can also be seen from statistics showing the distribution of labour : from a sociological point of view these figures are of more interest than the figures for income in the table above.
Seventy-two percent of the total working force is occupied in agriculture, whereas the organized industries employ only about 2 percent, a figure lower than the number of administrative workers (2.7 percent). Less than 11 percent of the working force is employed in all the forms of industry, less than 8 percent in trade and transports, less than 10 percent in other services. It is apparent that the country is not highly industrialized.
But despite lack of industrialization it is important, from a social point of view, to realize that there are a large number of wage-earners in the working population : nearly 38 percent in fat. Among these, industrial wage-earners are a weak minority (about 11 percent including Transport and Communications), the large majority being agricultural labourers.
The high percentage of agricultural workers is obviously not the result of a modem capitalist agricultural system, but is simply evidence of agricultural over-population. A large proportion of the Indian peasantry does not own land (or owns practically none) and does not always manage to find employment.
Little industrialization, low agricultural output, a low figure of National Income per capita, very sluggish economic progress, considerable unemployment an under-employment: these are some of the main characteristics of India’s social and economic situation just after Independence.
We shall have to analyse the situation in greater detail in order to see the political and social implications. The analysis will constitute the first part of this work: in the second part we shall see how the situation of India changed between the time of Independence and the present day.
How was the agrarian structure in India, a hindrance to agricultural development? Discuss.
The Agrarian Scene In 1947:
The agrarian structure affects agricultural production in three ways:
Low Productivity of Labour:
The food consumption of most agricultural workers is at a minimum owing to the way they are exploited, with the result that many of them suffer from various illnesses related to malnutrition. This affects their capacity to work, and lowers the output of all the poorest peasants. A large section of the working force available for agricultural work is weakened by malnutrition and ill-health.
Weak Productive Accumulation:
Agricultural production is also affected by defective means of production : soil-exhaustion through lack of fertilization, weakened drought-cattle which can only do light work, inefficient or badly used agricultural machinery, etc.
The material results of the agricultural structures set up under the colonial regime are here apparent. The great majority of small farmers have incomes too small to live on and are hardly in a position to better their conditions of production. In many cases they cannot survive without some other source of income and are often reduced to borrowing, becoming more and more heavily indebted to moneylenders, merchants, or rich peasants.
The small size of many holdings is the cause of this: about half of them cannot produce enough to make their work economically justifiable. About 52 percent of the smallest occupy only 6 percent of the land undo- cultivation, whereas 10 percent of the biggest occupy more that 40 percent of the land under cultivation (calculated from the N.S.S.-10, p.34). The land available is too unevenly distributed; added to this, the underdevelopment of industry keeps 80 percent of India’s population in the villages.
The lack of income with which to improve the material conditions of production results from the fat that a large percentage of tenant-farmers and cropsharers have to pay high rents. Social conditions there fore prevent the true producer from earning a satisfactory income. The situation of the ‘cropshares’ is even worse, for they are not usually given the same land every year and thus have little interest in its upkeep and development.
In addition to this, about one third of the farmers – in some regions as much as 90 percent – are heavily in debt. Productive investment is evidently at a minimum. The productivity of most farms is bound to remain low.
The adverse effect of merchant and lending capital on production should not be overlooked. Few peasants can increase their production without borrowing the money they need for selected seeds, fertilizers, irrigation machinery, etc., but high interests rates reduce any profit from increased production to a minimum (that it, when they do not completely eliminate the possibility of a profit).
This is not all. The moneylender, who is often the local merchant, is not likely to agree to loans which might lower sale prices by increasing the harvest. The higher the prices, the greater a merchant’s profit. Even where there is no lending involved, the grain merchant’s profit. Even where there is no lending involved, the grain merchants often exert pressure on the peasants whose produce they buy to limit their output. It is difficult for the peasants to escape this pressure.
The village market is seldom a free market. The peasants is entirely dependent on the local merchant, who buys a predetermined quantity in order to make the highest possible profit. A Calcutta correspondent of the Economic Weekly has started that the Bengal market is controlled by the mahajan (local rice merchant or moneylender) who is himself subservient to the big grain merchants and factory owners. Food production is deliberately limited to give the intermediary the highest possible margin of profit – which means preventing any surplus of grain production.
If part of the land available were grouped into large holdings, this would certainly allow the richest proprietors to use the surplus profits for increasing productivity. Some farmers were doing so at the time of Independence, but the practice was by no means widespread.
The use of fairly large profits mainly for consumption was, however, widely practised. Moreover, savings out of income were mainly used to buy land (which was usually then let to tenant-farmers or cropshares) and to serve as commercial or lending capital.
(a) In the years following Independence, and even today, commercial and lending capital formation was the main form of rural accumulation, whereas agricultural capital formation was rare.
We know little about productive accumulation in the past. The few inquiries carried out shortly before Independence or shortly afterwards show there was very little.
According to the N.S.S., the total values of all implements (including carts and wagons) was something like 69 Rs. per holding. The total sum of capital engaged in agricultural and stock-breeding (excluding plantations) was estimated to be 26.5 thousand million Rs. In 1949-50, (8)i.e. about 25 thousands million Rs. excluding capital for state irrigation works. This is equivalent to about 90 per acre, cattle representing 74 Rs. and agricultural implements less than 10 Rs. The figures include loss of value through wear.
Because there was little accumulation in the past, the means which the peasant use to do their work are very restricted and usually inefficient. A large number of holdings do not even have primitive ploughs (not to speak of a steel-bladed plough) and only about half of them own harrows. There is an even greater lack of irrigation machinery.
(b) The productive agricultural accumulation (9) totals about 1.5 thousand millions Rs. a year in gross investments, 1.25 thousand million Rs. in net investments, and about 2.8 percent of the net income from agriculture. (10). The low rate of capital formation is significant. It explains why there is almost no rise in agricultural production, and shows to what extent the agrarian structure hampers development of productive forces in agriculture.
(11) The resistance is so great that there is a falling-off of investment out of capital inherited by owners of small and medium-sized farms. Each year, the latter are forced to sell a part of their lands so the big landowners, liquidate a part of their other possessions, and go deeper into debt (12). After Independence, about 20 percent of the rural population earned the main part of their income from non-agricultural activities, mostly in artisanal work, domestic service, transport and trade. The situation is much the same today.
From the 1951 census, provided that certain points are reconsidered, we can estimate that the non-agricultural rural working force (15) consisted of nearly 21 million persons in 1952-3. This force are distributed as follows. The figures are in millions. (16)
- Small enterprises – 6.6
- Domestic services, personal and health services – 3.2
- Railways and communications – 0.5
- Other trades and transports – 4.3
- Professions – 1.7
- Administration – 2.3
- Mines and Processing Industries – 2.3
Activities under the headings numbered 1,2 and to a certain extent 4 and 5 can be called traditional, while the others have developed from urban and organized industries.
The traditional activities correspond to the old trades and crafts which made the village a more or less self-contained economic unit. Village life was one of the chief characteristics of ancient Indian and still, to a great extent, of India before colonization. It depended on close co-operation between industry and agriculture.
The products or services of the village craftsman were destined for the village cultivators, who provided for the craftsman’s needs. This division of labour was not based on an exchange of merchandise. Only when production outstripped the needs of the village, or when debts had to be paid to those in power, was there any exchange.
The main traditional craftsmen were the blacksmith and the carpenter who produced and repaired agricultural implements, the potter making pottery, bricks and tiles, the wearer, the barber, the washerman, and (in some cases) the gold and silversmith. The village also supported a Brahmin astrologer, an accountant, a water-controller, a field-guard etc..
The old professional structure was based on a caste system which became more and more rigid. The British occupation slowly changed the professional system, running the overtaxed peasants, developing exchange and monetary economy, reducing millions of craftsmen to poverty through competition from modem industrial goods.
Describe the industrial structure of Indian in 1947.
Industrial Structure In 1947:
Rise and growth of Indian Industry in 20th century.
According to calculations made before the world war by an economic research service, if one takes 100 as the basic index of manufacturing production in 1913, the index was 240 in 1938. This means that industrial output had increased four times since 1900. The average annual rise in industrial production was 3.75 percent for the years between 1913 and 1938. This high rate is appreciably bettor than the rise in world production during the period (2.4 percent).
During the second world war, India’s industrial output shows another rise, which (according to estimates) was between 10 and 15 percent between the years 1938-9 and 1948-9.
Between the beginning of the century and Independence, industrial output rose to 4.5 or 5 times that of 1900. (6)
The progress of India’s modem industrial production has been favourable. This is confirmed by the rise in the number of industrial workers from less than a million at the turn of the century to about three million just after Independence. But the rise in employment in this sector corresponds to a fall in employment in the traditional crafts. Nevertheless, the output of both handicraft and organized industries has shown an appreciable increase since the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Structure of Indian Industry:
Until 1914, India’s modem industrial sector consisted mainly of the cotton and jute industries, the latter being almost exclusively British. There was little change during die first world was and until the 1929 depression. There was a slight increase in the development of new industries during the second world war.
The textile industries, together with the tea and sugarcane industries, were still at the top of industrial production after Independence. Then came the metallurgical and engineering industries. The table below gives some ides of ‘ the relative importance of the main branches of Indian industry according to the value of their output
We reach a net value of output of 5.5 thousand million Rs. by adding to the above total the sum of industrial products not included in the table, in particular that of electricity, which totalled 165 million Rs. including the cost of transmission.
Among the extractive industries (total value roughly 600 million Rs.), coal-mining leads with a total estimated value of 477 millions Rs. in 1949.
The above figures testify to the basic weakness of Indian industry, specially in the metallurgical and engineering industries. The result of this situation – and we shall take up the point again – is that any large industrial development in the Indian of1948-9 required imported machinery since the national industry could not supply what was necessary. As we shall see, one of the main objectives of the Second and Third Five-Year Plans on the industrial side has been to try and remedy the unsatisfactory structure of industry.
To sum up, the low total value of production in Indian industry does not mean that there was no attempt at development in the years before Independence. Some industries (cotton, jute and tea in particular) were potentially quite powerful in 1948-50, and their output reached a high percentage of total world production in these respective industries. The metallurgical and engineering industries were by no means non-existent, but their output was not nearly sufficient for the needs of industrial expansion in a highly populated and potentially rich country.
India’s unsatisfactory industrial development obviously affects the size of the typical social groups in the urban sector of modern India.
Discuss the growth of English Education as a features of Colonial Society.
Trace the history of University Education in India under the British
Indicate growth and development of English Education in India.
Word’s Despatch of 1854 led to the foundation of the first three Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in 1857. These Universities were started on the model of the university of London and were to serve as examining bodies and not as teaching or residential universities were started on the model of the university of London and were to serve as examining bodies and not as teaching or residential universities. The Chancellor and the Senate consisting of the Vice-Chancellor and Fellows who were mainly Government Servants were to conduct the affairs of each university.
The Governor-General became the Chancellor of Calcutta university and the Governors of Bombay and Madras were the Chancellors, respectively of their Universities. Each University had its separate spheres of jurisdiction.
Calcutta exercised control over higher education in the North, the Central Provinces and British Burma, Bombay and Madras had their territorial jurisdictions over their respective presidencies and Indian States of Western and Southern India. During the period 1871 to 1881 no new university was established. The Punjab university was established in October 1882 and the Allahbad university in September 1887.
In January 1902 Lord Curzon appointed a Universities Commission to investigate into the conditions and prospects of the Indian Universities and to recommend measure to improve university teaching and to promote the advancement of learning.
The Commission was presided over by Thomas Raleigh, Law member of the Viceroy’s Council and included among its members two distinguished Indians – Sayed Hussain Bilgrami Director of Public Instruction in the Nizam’s Dominions and Gurudas Banerji a judge of the Calcutta High Court.
Universities Act of 1904 was passed with the object of tightening Government Control ova- the Univa-sities by limiting the number of Senators and Syndics and creating an overwhelming majority of nominated members. Vice-Chancellors were to be appointed by the Government; Senates were to include Directors of Public Instructions.
The university was to have increased powers of supervision over the affiliated colleges and conditions for the application of new ones were made more stringent. But practically all affiliations and disaffiliations of colleges were to be finally determined by the Government.
The Act provided that the universities should themselves conduct post graduate courses of study. It also provided qualifications and requirements for the appointment of professors and lecturers, to equip and maintain laboratories and museums and to promote research. Lord Curzon deplored the mushroom growth of institutions. He laid emphasis on quality. The universities Act of 1904 constitutes the real charter of the present day education in India.
The Banaras Hindu university was founded in 1916 due to the initiative of Pandi Madan Mohan Malaviya. In 1917 the universities of Mysore and Patna were founded and in the following year Osmania University of Hyderabad. In 1917 the Government the Calcutta University Commission.
The Saddler Commission 1917:
It order to hold an enquiry of a very comprehensive and searching character into problems of the Calcutta University Lord Chelmsford, the Governor General appointed Saddler Commission in 1917. He wanted to review the problem of University organisation by appointing the Calcutta university Commission because the Calcutta university was a very old University of the Country.
However, the Commission was also to make suggestions as could be applied to other Universities. The Commission submitted its report in 1919 dealing practically with every problem of Secondary and University Education. The following were the main recommendations of the Saddler Commission: –
(i) The Intermediate classes of the University were to be transferred to Secondary institutions and the state of admission to the University was to be that of existing Intermediate Examination.
(ii) Secondary and Intermediate Education was to controlled by a Board of Secondary Education and not by the University.
(iii) The Degree Course should be of three years duration. This provision was to be given immediate effect to Honours Courses and Later on to the Pass courses.
(iv) The teaching resources of the city of Calcutta were to be organised in such a way as to make Calcutta University a real teaching University. Different Colleges were to send their most competent lecturers to do some teaching work in the university. The University was also to employ whole time professors and lecturers.
(v) The Government of India should cease to have any special relationship to the University of Calcutta and the Government of Bengal should take its place.
(vi) Special attention was to be paid to the education of women and a Board was to be created for that purpose.
(Vii) The problem of vocational and professional training like that of teachers, engineers should be taken up seriously by the UniVersity.
(viii) The medium of instruction for most of the subjects up to High School stage was to be vernacular and after that it was to be English.
(ix) The method of examinations was defective and should be overhauled.
(x) The Government Service system being unsuitable for Universities, a new organisation of the teaching service in the University should be evolved.
A Bill was drafted by the Government of India to enforce the recommendations of the commission hut success could not be achieved on account of the financial difficulties. The Government of India forwarded the recommendations of the commission to the Provincial Governments in 1920. As a result of the recommendations several residential universities were started at Mysore, Patna, Banaras, Aligarh, Dacca, Lucknow and Hyderabad. Higher and Secondary education was also recognised.
Hartog Committee and Wood-About Report:
Under the government of India Act, 1919, education was made entirely the charge of the Provinces for administration. Hence it came under the control of elected ministers responsible to the Provincial Legislature.
However the Government of India continued to keep its control over the education of the Europeans, education of the centrally administered provinces. Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and Delhi, Colleges of the Princes and All India Research Institutions.
In 1927 an auxiliary Committee of Indian statuary Commission was appointed to survey the conditions of education existing in file country of that time. This Committee was headed by Sir Philip Hartog. The hartog Committee submitted its recommendations in September 1929. The Committee was of the opinion that existing system of Primary Education was not satisfactory and suggested for compulsory primary education. It also made suggestions to improve secondary and higher education in the country.
From 1920 a number ofUniversities came into being in different parts of India. In 1920 were established Univarsities at Aligarh Lucknow, Dacca and Rangoon. In 1922 Vishwa Bharti University and Delhi University, in 1923 Nagpur, Andhra Universities in 1926 Agra andAnnamalai Universities were established. A conference of Indian universities held at Shimla established. A conference of Indian universities held at Shimla established in the following year an Inter University Board to serve as a link among the different Universities.
In 1928 Sumon Commission appointed a sub-committee which complained about the falling standard of some of the Universities. It recommended a three years Honours Course with emphasis on tutorial system rather than on mass lectures.
During the Second Word War, Sir John Sargent, the Educational Adviser to the Government of India was appointed to make a report on educational development in India. Famous as the Sargent Report of 1944, it pointed out that the Indian Universities, despite their admirable features did not satisfy fully the requirements of a national system of education.
To raise the standard of post-graduate studies and research and to improve the services conditions of University and College teachers, the report suggested the establishment of a University Grants Commission. It was constituted in 1953. In 1947 there were 25 Universities in the country the number of which in the following there decades reached 94.
The early phase of female education in India was mainly inspired by the Christian missionaries in India and philanthropic individuals like Raja Radhakanta Deb, Raja BaidyaNath Ray, and many other. Apart from popular antipathy towards female education the Government response towards this particular field was not heartening. It was not till 1849 when the Hindu Balika Vidyalaya was started in Calcutta that a new chapter in the history of female education was begun.
Founded at Calcutta mainly through the initiative of Drinkwater Bethuna, Law member of the Governor General’s Council and of Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar, the school gave great impetus to the cause of women’s education in India. Lord Dalhousie championed the cause of female education and made an annual donation of Rs. 8000 out of his own pocket for the maintenance of Bethuna School for five years.
The Wood’s Despatch of 1854 emphsised the importance of female education in India but left it entirely to the private initiative with assurance of grant from the Government while Dalhousie was an enthusiastic supporter, Lord Canning’s Government held the view that girl’s schools should be established by voluntary aid. In 1867, the Government out lined its policy of apathy in the case of girl’s school though it was ready to encourage existing schools by grants in aid. In 1873 there were only 1640 girls schools of all kinds in British India.
Despite the aggregate increase in female education in India, the Education Commission in 1882 remarked that it was still in an extremely backward condition. The Commission focussed attention on female education and observed that it should receive special encouragement. Hence forth Government grants for girl’s education became more liberal. In 1901 -02 there were 12 female colleges, 6 in the United provinces, 3 in Bengal and 3 in Madras.
Contribution of Social and Religious Association:
Besides missionary and state efforts, the activities of various associations like the Brahama Samaj, Arya Samaj and the savants of Indian. Society promoted the cause ofwomen’s education. The most significant contribution in the cause of female education
was the establishment of women’s university at Poona in 1916 by Professor Karve which transferred to Bombay in 1936.
The Saddler Commission recommended special attention to women’s education and the constitution of a Board for this purpose. The All India Women’s Conference on Educational Reform by holding its annual session suggested various measures for the improvement of Girl’s education. The Hartog Committee recommended that in every scheme of expansion priority should be given to the claims of girls education.
There has been tremendous progress in the cause of female education after 1947. At the lower primary stage the number of girls enrolled per 100 boys has increased from 12 in-1901 to 39 in 1950 and to 55 in 1965. At the Secondary stage the corresponding number are 4 in 1901, 15 in 1950 and 26 in 1965.
Discuss the nature of new industrial class emerged under colonial rule.
The New Capitalist And Working Classes:
The Proletariat and the Petty Bourgeoisie.
The strength of Indian big capital and the weakness of India’s industrial sector at the time of Independence should not obscure the problems inherent in India’s social structure. Here again it is evident that the country was in urgent need of industrialization; the cities ware already large and growing, the concentration of manpower sometimes enormous. Another factor of vital importance was the size of India’s proletariat and the situation facing a large part of the middle classes.
The Urban Sector or Indian Society:
India’s urban development has been affected by many conflicting forces which we cannot discuss in great detail.
First, there are the old cities which belong to India’s pre-capitalist system. These towns have for centuries been the centres of political power. A large slice of the wealth produced by rural districts is absorbed by these cities in the form of rent and taxes.
Their income is drawn from a part of the agricultural surplus resulting from the peasants’ low consumption, and this surplus was for a long time used to enrich the prices or the administrators, subsidized their armies or police forces, and pay the innumerable servants and craftsmen who worked for them.These cities may have been centres of culture and civilization but their structure prevented them from giving any help to the villages in return for what they took.
Undo- British rule, some of the relative improvement of the rural districts, the growing number of intermediaries who each took a share of the rent and, above all, the centralization of much of the agricultural surplus. In some of these cities, the population has decreased. In others it has increased because it took an ever-increasing part in the production and trading associated with the rise of a commercial, capitalist economy.
The towns which have developed more quickly are those directly affected by the new economy Bombay and Calcutta, for example, and many other towns connected with the export trade, such as ports and road and rail junctions.
The statistics relative to India’s urban population should be interpreted with these points in mind.
According to the first census after Independence the urban population had reached nearly 62 million people, greater than the whole population of France or the United Kingdom. But the figure is only 17.3 per cent of India’s total population.
The biggest towns have a large share of the urban population : those containing more than 100,000 inhabitants house more than two-fifths of the urban population. Among them arc cities with a population of more than a million; Bombay (2.8 million), Calcutta (2.6 million; or, if Howrah is counted as well, more than 3 million), Madras (1.4 million), and Hyderabad (more than one million). In much the same category are the cities of Delhi, with a population (New Delhi included) of more than one million, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.
Most of these big cities grew very rapidly between 1941 and 1951. Whereas the total population of India increased by less than 12 percent during this period. Calcutta’s population almost doubled and Bombay’s grew by 168 percent. Since Independence the growth has accelerated – above all in the big cities – giving rise to complex social and economic problems (increase of urban unemployment, worsening housing conditions etc.).
The rapid growth of the urban sector is due to its vitality, not to the growing pressure of the rural population on unequally distributed land. But we should neither over estimate the degree of Indian society’s urbanization, nor exaggerate the influence of the cities on society and on the economy as a whole.
As the country is not highly industrialized, the modem economic activities typical of the urban sectors of industrialized countries are still underdeveloped, even in the big cities.
The urban working force consists mainly of wage-earners (55 percent in fact). (3) The second largest group contains those who work for their own ‘ profit, without employing hired labour (about 32 percent). The employers (that is to say, the managers) constitute less than 1 percent of the working population.
(4) The figures show that the proletariat is relatively numerous in the Indian towns, since more than half of those who are economically active live by hiring out their working capacities. In the big cities, the percentage rises from more than 50- percent to nearly 75 percent. The size of the proletariat also indicates the concentration which is characteristic of India’s economy.
Two-thirds of the working class can be found in industry, mining, construction, transport and communications, and the gas and electrical industries. Despite the relative weakness of industrialization, it can be seen that India’s urban proletariat is mainly an industrial group.
There are still many trace of the traditional economic and social structures in the towns; infact the towns do not necessarily contain all the workers who are connected with the development of a capitalist economy. We must therefore study these social groups independently of their geographical distribution.
Industrial wage-earners :
According to the 1961 Census, there were 13,540,000 non-agricultural wage-earners in India, and more than, 4,600,000 of them worked in industry. (5) The latter are therefore equivalent to 11.5 percent of the total number of agricultural wage-earners. The 4,600,000 did not all work in large scale industry, the figure also included those working in small-scale industry, including of course rural or traditional industries.
The ‘industrial working class’ is employed mainly industrial establishments coming under the jurisdiction of the Indian Factories Act (6) as well as in the mines and ports, on the railways, and in other forms of modern transport. In 1950, there were nearly 3 million factory workers (7), more than 444,400 miners (8), about 1,200,000 municipal transport workers, and about 100,000 dockers and port employees.
The nucleus of the Indian industrial working class consists of about 4.5 million workers (9), or 16 to 20 million people if we include their families. This is quite a large group, especially as it is concentrated in a few states. The State of Bombay contains nearly 800,000 factory workers in a population of less than 36 million; West Bengal (pop. 24.9 million) has 650,000 factory workers, and Madras (pop. 57 million) has nearly400,000. Within these States, as in the industrial areas of other States (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in particular), the factory workers are heavily concentrated in a few towns or industrial zones which thus have a strongly proletarian character.
On the whole, the establishments in which these workers are employed have a relatively high degree of concentration: in 1950, the 3 million or so factory workers were employed by 31761 establishments, which gives an average factory employment of 94 workers per establishment. (10)
Obviously this average figure does not fully represent industrial concentration. In West Bengal, for example, the jute factories employ 2,500 workers per factory on average, and the cotton factories 1,000. The figures are much the same in the cotton factories of Uttar Pradesh and the State of Bombay, and in the chemical or fertilizer and tyre factories of Eastern India.
Nine-tenths of textile factory workers are employed in establishments with more than 1,000 workers. The same is true of about two-thirds of metallurgical factory workers and of more than half of the workers in the mechanical industries.
The Indian industrial proletariat is, then, mainly employed in big industrial enterprises. This is favourable to labour and trade union movements, which explains why the Indian working class, although it is exploited on a large scale, has been able to obtain some satisfaction of its demands for better economic and social conditions. Its solidarity and positive action have won it certain concessions, especially in legislation over working conditions, the workers’ standard of living in a country like India depends almost entirely upon their income in the form of wages.
The figures for big industry are the best known, and it is these that we shall analyse. One should remember, however, that they are always much higher than the wages paid by small establishments. In 1950, the average earnings of industrial workers (11) totalled about 80 Rs. per month, or 2.7 Rs. per day. Avery large number of workers had to support at least four people on this wage, which works out at an income of slightly less than 0.70 Rs. per person per day.
It must not be forgotten that the above average includes the income of workers earning as much as 2,400 Rs. per years, and that some workers are employed for only part of the year.
In 1950-1, the annual net values of production in big industry was about 1,700 Rs. per worker. The wage is a little more than half of this figure.
Also in 1950 the average yearly earnings of a miner (if we multiply the daily earnings by 300) was about 740 Rs. in the coal mines and about 412 Rs. in other mines.
The Stability of the Working Proletariat :
It has been said that the Indian proletariat is ‘transitional’ in the sense that it consists of workers who come to work in industry for a few years before returning to their villages. If this were so, one could hardly speak of a true proletariat.
The present situation is very different. It is true that the industrial workers keep in contact with their villages, but this does not mean that they are temporary migrants. Unfortunately, precise figures in this field are lacking. But according to the I.S.I. report on unemployment, 53.6 percent of the urban population surveyed were born in the place whore they lived at the time of the survey.
The proportion of wage-earners bom in the same locality was a little lower (46.5 percent), but not far below half. One important finding was that among the migrants (excluding displaced persons) 28 percent had been in the same place for more than 6 years, and 39 percent for more than 4 years. The industrial proletariat is stable enough to have an appreciable strength by virtue of its solidarity.
Discuss the growth of middle class in India.
Growth Of The Middle Class:
In any country, it is difficult to decide exactly which social group constitutes the ‘middle classes’, and the task is even harder where India is concerned. The following categories are usually included in the term: on the one hand, business and office workers, and civil servants; on the other hand, the petty bourgeoisie, in particular small tradesmen, small industrialists and craftsmen employing a few wage-earners, and ‘independent workers’ (doctors, lawyers, etc.).
This is not a strictly satisfactory classification, for the group consists of two distinct social categories.
The first contains a part of the wage-earning classes, but is distinguished from the working class in the strict sense of the term by the fact that it does not take a direct part in material production. It does represent, however, a part of the proletariat in the large sense of the term.
The second category is distinguished from the first in economic terms by the fact that its members sell products or services to their clients instead of selling their working capacity to an employer in return for a wage.
The distinction between the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie is more or less a conventional one (which does not mean that it is any less real in any given society). It depends firstly on the type of work done, and secondly on the income level. Thus, some doctors or lawyers belong to the bourgeoisie if they earn more than a certain figure.
It may be useful to contrast the situations of these two categories, for they belong to much the same income group. Besides, it is sometimes difficult to decide from statistics how much of the information applies to the small bourgeoisie and how much to non-industrial wage-earners.
If we use the expression ‘the middle classes’ to denote a particular income group, the following observations can be made.
The non-agricultural middle classes contain about one-fifth of the non- agricultural population, whereas the working class contains about one-seventh or one-eight. The rest of the non-agricultural population – about three-fifths – consists of the social groups doing traditional non-agricultural work: crafts men and small shopkeepers.
Some of the new members of the petty bourgeoisie and some of the new members of the proletariat originally belonged to the last-mentioned group. Many of those doing traditional work are already part of the proletariat (having none but very rudimentary means of production) and form a kind of ‘sub – proletariat’ in the sense that they do not belong to the wage-earning class. This last group gains strength quite slowly, absorbing the proletariat from the country who come to the towns to get manual work.
Non-Industrial Wage-Earners :
The category of non-industrial, non- agricultural wage-earners includes the following professional groups: civil servants, commercial employees, bank and insurance employees, office workers (in the industrial sector, mining and transport), those employed by the private or the State educational system, health and medical service employees, those working for business agencies, for lawyers, for the press and for postal services.
The total strength of these professional groups (12) is less than 5 percent of the total Indian working force and about 20 percent of the non-agricultural working force. These proportions are low, and yet the non-industrial wage- earners number more than three-quarters of what are called the middle classes.
If we admit that they number 7 million, then non-industrial, non- agricultural wage earners are more numerous than the wage-earning workers in the modem industries. The fact, indicating the low level of India’s industrialization, has important consequences.
Non-industrial wage-earners are grouped mainly in the towns, where intellectual and political activity is greatest Their aspirations have therefore a strong influence on the ideology – although perhaps not on the actions – of the main political parties.
Their influence is increased by the fact that the upper strata of this class are the most cultured sections of the community. Most of those who read newspapers and journals, and whose personal opinions carry some weight in society, belong to this class. Also, they are as numerous as all the other categories of non-agricultural wage-earners, with the result that the working proletariat is in a minority within the wage-earning class (excluding agricultural workers), and the wage-earning middle classes in the majority.
This is the result, as we have noted above, of weak industrialization; it is also the case because city development under foreign rule was mainly commercial and administrative. The unusual structure which as we have explained, can be seen to exist in the wage-earning class has important social and political consequences.
The Non-Agricultural Petty Bourgeoisie:
This class is estimated to contain 2-1 million people. (13) The working force of the petty bourgeoisie is therefore less than 1.5 percent of the total working force and less than 5.3 percent of the non-agricultural working force.
The low proportion of the urban petty bourgeoisie is also related to the lack of industrialization and to the economic power of the big bourgeoisie, who dominate a highly concentrated capitalist structure. They leave little room for small or medium-sized enterprises (particularly in the industrial field), which causes a corresponding increase in the numbers of wage-earners. The Income of Non-Industrial Wage-Earners
In India, as elsewhere, statistics relative to this type of income are very limited. Where and when they exist, the incomes of any one professional group seem to very considerably. This may partly correspond to a real difference in income due to differing social and economic situations, but it does not help us to reach satisfactory averages.
Even so, it will be useful to give some figures illustrating the level of incomes. Here are some of the statistics calculated when India’s National Income was analysed.
Yearly Professional Earnings of some Non-Industrial
Wage-Earners (1950-1) (In Rs.) (14)
- Business employees (other than in bank and insurances companies) – 740
- Bank employes (15) – 2,000
- Railways and postal workers – 1,600
- Civil servants – 1,100
- Education – 660
According to these figures, groups 1 and 5 are the worst paid, their incomes being even lower those of the workers covered by the Payment of Wages Act. Monthly earnings work out at 55 Rs. in education and at a little less than 62 Rs. in business.
At the other end of the scale are the bank employees with 175 Rs. a month; but this figure is swollen by the comparatively high salaries at managerial levels which are included in the banking income group.
At this date, the ‘typical monthly income’ for these non -industrial wage- earners lay between the average for civil servants and the average for railways and post office workers (16); i.e. between 100 Rs. and 130 Rs. per month.
The petty bourgeoisie’s income is always less well known than that of the wage-earners, and so the figures which follow are merely approximations.
According to the F.R.N.I.C. estimates, the average yearly earnings of business employers and ‘independent’ workers (excluding banks and insurance companies) who were not subject to income tax was about 1,680 Rs. per year or 133 Rs. per months in 1950-5. As this is the largest section of the petty bourgeoisie, the above figures may be considered representative of incomes in this social class, although the exact figures may actually be anywhere within a range of 30 or 40 percent of those given above. As we shall see in Part Two, this explains to some extent why agrarian reforms which would have given the land to those who work it have been blocked.
General observations on Non-Industrial Wage-Earners:
If the non-industrial, non-agricultural wage-earners standard of living is generally much higher than those of the working classes and the peasantry, it is still low. The families of this class are often in debt, and the quality of their food is often at minimum standard even when the quantity is above the minimum ration.
These facts must be understood if one is to realize why most of the wage- earners belonging to the middle classes feel cut of from the bourgeoisie.
The white-collar workers and minor civil servants accepts State intervention in economic affairs because of their social position. They even think it desirable. They hope that the State may protect them from being exploited by big capital, speculators, moneylenders, etc.
In such conditions, only a small section of the population is prepared to support an economic programme base on free enterprise (i. e. capitalism). Many move would favour a socialist programme, as would those who live in the towns.
These facts also help us to understand the longing for better conditions among this section of society. They fully realize that economic development could better their own conditions and the state of the country as a whole. They can see for themselves in newspapers and journals what is happening in the rest of the world.
Their political awareness induced a large number of the middle classes to join the nationalist movement. For them, Independence was a question both of self-management and of the dawn of a new era in construction and economic development. They supported the Congress Party with these hopes in mind.
Once the Congress Party was in power, it depended on one or both of the two groups: the wage-earning middle classes and the petty bourgeoisie. Hence, the contradiction which we shall discuss below.
To sum up, the non-agricultural sector in Indian economy at the time of Independence was characterized by a high concentration of capital and by the domination of both foreign big capital (mainly British) and Indian big capital. The former was mainly active in the export field, but, LS W^ have seen, its influence was to be felt in other spheres.
Below this fairly powerful superstructure controlled by financial capital lay a weak industrial framework. Its operations were limited by the small and non-progressive rural market and by the monopolistic positions of the financial and industrial groups. In this situation, there arose a proletariat and a petty bourgeoisie whose conditions were have explained above.
Indian industry has progressed, although its rate of development has been slow. The second world was helped to consolidate the positions of Indian big capital. The big bourgeoisie emerged from the war strengthened and ready to direct the new State which had been created. We shall see how it succeeded in doing so when we examine its position in recent years.
Examine briefly the role of social movements as a catalyst of social change?
What is social movement :
Every society has its movement. Movement is a form of change. Society changes its nature through movements according to the circumstances. Every section of society is affected by social movements. According to Dr. A.D. Kesari, “Social movements is method through which the opponents of any social system establish themselves in the social structures by means of counter measures. ”
In the words of Herbert Blucutt, “Social movement is an effort of collective enterprise to co-ordinate and systematise the direction of life. ” According to Dr. Ambedkar, “Opposition of illegitimate deeds on legitimate time is a real social movement. ” Dr. M.S. Rao defines social movements, “On the one hand they express dissent and discontent against the present conditions and on the other they offer positive scheme to improve those conditions. ”
In other words, social movements are aimed against social in equality, traditions, values and evil customs such as Feminist opposition of male dominance, outran against the caste-religion based politics etc.
Role of Social Movement in social change :
Social movements bring dynamism in society which ends its stagnation. They cause emergence ofnew circumstances. This process is called social change. Their role can be described under the following heads :
(i) As a social awakening:
Social movements create awakening and awareness in society, which make every individual to participate and thus the process of change become easy. The individual becomes aware about the evils of society through the movement, organises and participates.
(ii) Change is universalised:
No movement can be launched by one single person. If its nature is not universal it cannot influence society thus it universalises the change visualised by individuals.
(iii) AS a Directive:
The direction of change is decided by social movement. Unless direction and target of are decided, the aim of change cannot be achieved. Social movement show the way and go the way to reach the goal.
(iv) Efficient leadership for change:
Social movement gives birth to the efficient leadership for a particular change in society. It gives opportunity to the talented and the genius to show their acumen for social advantage. Social movement is a collective concept but no movement can be operational without proper leadership, and no sbcial change can be brought through.
(v) Sacrifice and dedication:
Though social movements feelings of sacrifice and dedication emerge in die individuals. Their ego and individuality are devoted to a greater cause. Then think not for oneself but for society at large. This makes the process of social change easier.
(vi) Fixed Target:
The most obvious role of social movements in change is that its target, aim, ideal and destination is pre-determined. This is done in the initial stage itself Hence no time and energy are wasted. Thus society involves in the process of change with full force and accelerates the desired change.
(vii) Collective participation :
An individual or a class cannot bring social change. Participation of total society is inevitable for social change. This total participation can be achieved only through social movement, It creates collective consciousness in individuals, which proves the path of social change, reacting with the prevalent social system.
(viii) Acceleration of change:
The process of change is accelerated by the social movement. Natural change occurs slowly, while social movement create a turmoil in the total social system, Common people react more zealously for the given social problem.
Social Movement in India:
India is as country. There is diversity in almost every field of life. Being a pluralist society there is a difference of open on every where. There are voices for an against the established social system. Hence, the social movements in India are also diverse in character. From the ancient times Indian society is facing various problems and challenges. It has achieved balanced between continuity had change. Pre-Independence India saw many movements like salt Satyagraha Anti-untouchability movements, anti-sati, Child marriage and human sacrifice movements, women’s emancipation, literacy, peasants and tribal movements etc.
Discuss the peasant movements in India with reference to its background and the various movements in the pre-independence India.
Critically examine the peasant movements in colonial India.
Peasant Movements In India:
Introduction and Background – Peasants are the people who are engaged in agricultural or related production and peasant moreover is an attempt on their part to effect change in their social, economic and political conditions. About 77% of India’s population live in rural areas and agriculture is their main source of livelihood. What is important to note here is that land distribution is unequal.
About 55% of the rural population are small and marginal farmers owing five acres of land or less. They own only 11 percent and the top 13 percent of farmers own 57 percent of the cultivated land. Agricultural labourers constitute 27 percent of rural workforce. In other words, the rural poor who constitute three-fourth of our population are socially oppressed and economically exploited by landlords and rich farmers who are invariably drawn from the ranks of the upper and middle castes. The rural poor generally belong to the backward classes, Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes.
Despite growth in agricultural production after introduction of new agrarian policies in mid-1960s (popularly known as green revolution), the economic conditions of agricultural labourers, and small and marginal farmers deteriorated in the last few decades. Only the middle and rich farmers who were in position to secure loans against land, invest in fertilizers, pesticides and high-yielding seeds could gain benefit from the new policies.
It may be pertinent to note here that the land reform: introduced in the first decade after independence were primarily aimed at abolish Zamindars and other absentee landlords who were not directly involved in cultivation. But this did not r err ove the landlords and rich farmers who continued to explicit the rural poor.
Different Peasant Movements:
The poor peasants who constitute the vast majority have at different times resorted to collective action and protest to express their aspirations and discontent against injustice, for higher wages and better working conditions. These movements were both localised and widespread, spontaneous and organised. These movements were generally organised by the Kisan Sabhas and agricultural labour union of the CPI, CPI(M) and CPI (ML) Thus seven major peasant uprisings in the Indian countryside have been organised in tire last four decades. Let’s examine them in some detail.
The Telangana Struggle – The Telangana Struggle (1946-48) in the former Hyderabad state started with the demand for abolition of illegal extractions by the Deshmukkhs and Nawabs and later for the cancellation of peasants’debts. Thes truggle began in the mid-1946 and continued until 1951. Agricultural labourers, and poor peasants formed the core support base of the movement.
In the Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh, the condition of small peasants was deplorable. They were compelled to do forced labour by the landlords. Besides, tenants were evicted by landlords because feared tenants acquisition of occupancyrights on their lands. During the mid-fourties, village committees were formed in various villages to resist the exploitation and tyranny of the landlords and the Nizam’s administration.
Sporadic strikes against forced labour and for securing better farm wages, were organised. The landlords, backed by the police, retaliated by firing at workers processions and rallies. These incidents culminated in Telengana insurrection in which the village committees grabbed the land of rich landlords in 300 villages and distributed among the peasants and the labourers. The movement focussed on some programmes which were implemented by the village committees : for example
(i) the abolition of forced labour;
(ii) the abolition of illegal extractions; etc.
The Tebhaga Movement (1946-47) – The Tebhaga uprisings in North Bengal in 1946 was struggle launched by sharecroppers to retain two thirds of agricultural produce for themselves. It was also in order to reduce the rent they paid to jotedars who generally appropriated from one-half to two-thirds of the agricultural produce as rent. The movement started in Dirajpur district from where it spread to eleven districts under the leadership of the Provincial Kisan Sabha of Bengal. The sharecroppers organised processions and refused to pay any share of the crop to landlords.
Miscellaneous Uprisings – The peasant struggles continued in different parts of the country after the Naxalbari uprising. According to government reports, there were 5424 agrarian agitations between 1967-70. Thus the CPI, CPI (M) SSP and PSP organised agitations in UP and Bihar to highlight the concentration of land in the hands of landlords, former princes, zamindars and monopolists and to grab the land. They also alerted the public to the need for radical agrarian reform.
These parties were opposed to the ideological and tactical lines of the CPI (ML). However, there was no uniform pattern to the struggle and the nature of mobilisation. For example, the CPI and CPI (M) organised against the big landlords, whereas PSP and the SSP avoided the big landlords. Again, ion some places the struggle was organised on class lines, while in other areas, coincided with castes.
This land grab movement could not be sustained after a few months because the parties involved in the struggle were not united in their efforts, and the state also used repression to crush them. But the impact of this was that several states enacted land ceiling legislations in 1972 and 1973 to distribute surplus land among the landless. This also led the Congress party to raise radical slogan of Garibi Hatao in the 1971 elections to counter the popular appeal of the programmes and action of the opposition. But these slogans have proved to be of no avail because of inequality in the distribution of resource base amongst the rural population.
Identify the features of working class or trade union movements in India.
Trade Union Movements In India:
The working class in India constitutes a small part of population, as India still a predominantly agricultural country despite the enormous increase in industrial output. According to the 1981census. 1‘47.9 million were engaged in agriculture and 74.4 million in non-agricultural labour. The establishment of new industries since 1947 has resulted in a continuous increase in the industrial workforce. From the employment point of view, the railways, jute and cotton textile industries remain the most important.
Distinction between Organised and Unorganised Sectors – The Industrial workforce includes people in large and small firms, permanent and temporary, casual and contract, skilled and unskilled, and educated and uneducated workers. Some analysts, therefore, argue that it is misleading to lump together these diverse types of workers who share very few interests.
Most analysts, however, draw a distinction between the industrial workers of the organised and the unorganised sectors. The organised sectors means firms with ten or more workers (or twenty without power) registered and inspected undo” the Factories Act. The smaller, unorganised sector firms come under the Factories Act, to he enforced by the local authorities.
However, the differences between them do not add up to a clear stratification. Many people work in the organised sector without enjoying the benefits of organised sector employment, because they are temporary, casual or contract workers. Besides, the big factories are often engaged in assembling, finishing and marketing products of smaller units further down the chain. The organised sector depends on the unorganised in many way, for parts, components, processing and maintenance.
Trade Union Movement:
Prior to Independence. The history of trade union movement is closely linked to the history of the nationalist movement and the political parties which were part of it. Before independence, political and economic struggles were directed against imperialist subjugation.
Between 1920 and 1947, political issue of independence dominated overthe economic issues. Workers’ struggle confronted both British imperialism and Indian capitalism. By the end of the Second World War, however, the Communist and Congress supporters in the trade unions had fallen out with each other over the question of tacticsvis-a- vis the imperialists and the capitalists.
After Independence : Discontent with the Congress Policies:
The workers’ discontent and dissatisfaction with the Congress policies gained momentum after independence. Independence ushered in the rule of the private capital that dominated and exploited the vast majority. The ruling classes had embarked upon building capitalism, which was to perpetuate inequality and suffering for large sections of the population. Inflation and price rise resulted in a continuous fall in the real wages of workers. This has been the story of the last four decades which has generated resistance among the working class all over the country.
Division in the T.U. Movement:
In the early years after independence, this resistance was spearheaded by the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). By the aid of the Second World War, there were two leading national organisations claiming to represent the working class : the AITUC and the Indian Federation of Labour. By 1948, the Socialists and the Indian Federation of Labour led by the followers of M.N. Roy broke away from AITUC to form a separate organisation called the Hind Mazdoor Sangh (HMS), while the Congress group in the AITUC had established the Indian National Trade Union Congress(INTUC) in September 1947.
INTUC Affiliated to Congress Party. The Textile Labour Association of Ahmedabad with a membership of 60,000 and the Tata Workers Union were the largest of the 200 unions that became affiliated to INTUC. The INTUC was made up of unions that had grown out of different conditions and thus, represented varying approaches to the worker-management relationship.
One of the objectives of die INTUC is to place the industry under national ownership and control. But INTUC appears to have done nothing to achieve nationalisation. This because within INTUC there are deep reservations about nationalisation. Affiliated to the Congress party. The INTUC allows itself to be co-opted and complies with government directives. It derived many gains from its proximity to the government.
AITUC and CITU Affiliated to CPI and CPI (M):
The AITUC and centre for Indian Trade Unions (founded in 1970 six years after the CPI split) are affiliated with the CPI and CPI and CPI (M) respectively. They espouse the ideological view that industrial relations must reflect the interests of die working class and that the organised labour is at the forefront of the progressive forces. In the fifties and the sixties the understanding and tactics of AITUC were constrained by the proximity of CPI to the ruling Congress party.
During this period, the CPI (M) accused the CPI of deviating towards the path of class collaboration. This widened the growing breach in the ranks of the AITUC between the supporters of the CPI and CPI (M) and the leaders of the CPI (M) therefore, decided to form a separate trade union organisation called the CITU. The CITU has a reputation for militancy, but its militancy is confined to the heavy industrial and public sector workers.
As we noted earlier, the AITUC was in the forefront of the trade union movements in the 1950s. Most of the movements centered around revision in wage structure and pleaded for need based minimum wages. The struggles gained momentum after the submission of report by the Second Pay Commission in 1959 which refused to accept the principle of need based minimum wages undo1 the plea of limited national resources.
Workers’ Movement in 1960’s, 70’s and Later:
The 1960s witnessed a series of militant struggles by workers, white collar employees and school and college teachers. Again trade union struggles in this period were dominated by the struggles launched by the Central and state government employees under the leadership of the All India State Government Employees Federation. The Central government employees struck work on 19 September, 1968 to demand dearness allowance in basic pay, need based minimum wages, full naturalisation of the rise in prices. Yet again the strike was banned.
There was an uprising in trade union militancy in the 1970s. This can be gauged from the number of work days lost during the period due to strikes and lockouts. Between 1965 – 1975, the number of work days lost increased by almost 500 percent. Much of the successful trade union activities benefited the lower middle class and middle class employees and workers in the organised sector.
During this period workers in the organised sector were also getting organised leading to far-reaching changes in the organisation for redistribution of wealth and power. There were agitations in various parts of the country to protect against soaring prices, shortage of essential commodities and mounting unemployment. Employees of the central and state government also joined in the widespread protest against the growing economic difficulties affecting almost all section of the people.
While these agitations gained momentum, the 1.7 million railway workers gave call for a strike in May 1974. Some of their demands conceded, but the concessions did not quite keep pace with the massive rise in prices of all commodities. The trade union movements after 70’s and especially in recent years have been scattered and sporadic and lacked militancy become of lack of unity in it due to elements with vested interests and on account of many other factors.
Write a short note on the tribal movements.
‘The major issues in the growth of tribal movements’ in India.
According to the 1981 census, 51 million persons or 7 percent of the total population live in the north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura and the rest of the tribal population is concentrated in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Dadar and Nagar Haveli. Most of them live in rural areas in hilly tracts and forests.
The main source of livelihood is agriculture and forest products and the majority of tribals are small farmers and agricultural labourers. Many others work as labourers in timber cutting, charcoal making and plantation labour.
Tribal Movements in Pre-Independence India – There were a number of tribal revolts against the British administration in the pre-independence period. The notable ones were the rebellion of the Maler of the Rajmahal Hills in 1772; the Kol uprising in 1831, the Santhal rebellion of 1855; the Bhokta uprising and the Ra movement in 1857; the rebellion of the Kach Nagas in 1880; the Sardari or Mulhi Larai, and the Birsa movement among the Mundas in 1900.
Many of these struggles were millennial and movements led by tribal leaders who used religious idioms and symbols to mobilise the tribals against economic exploitation and alien penetration. Some of them were directed against the colonial policy of reservation of forests for extraction of timber and other forest products to serve the needs of the railways and various industries.
Besides reservation of forests, the colonial administration created conditions in which tribals were dispossessed and alienated from agricultural lands of production in various sectors of the tribal economy, colonial penetration paved the way for the entry of money lenders and traders who were eager to take over land belonging to the tribals. The cumulating effect of this process was a continuous alienation of lands of tribals. Some of the tribes, for example the Santhal, Ho, Qraon, Munda and Bhumiji organised struggles against the alienation of their land.
Tribal Movements in Post-Independence India – During the last four decades tribals in different parts of the country have launched movements on various social and economic issues. A few of them were revivalist movements aimed at reviving tribal culture or a response to the disruption of traditional roles in the new set up.
But the majority of movements dealt with threats to access and control of resources, threats to privacy of habitat, search for new forms of identity and for a more satisfactory system of organisation of community power at various levels. In the realm of economic and political issues, tribal movements could be broadly divided into – 1. movements for poiitical autonomy 2. agrarian and frontier based movements, and 3. middle class movements.
The tribes of the north east frontier, particularly the Nagas launched a movement to demand a state for the Nagas outside the Indian Union. The Naga National Council formed in 1946 demanded an autonomous state with confederation status within the Indian Union. Some other tribes in the frontier region also launched similar movements in 1960. For example, the Mizo National Army, demanded a separate state for the Mizos. The Indian state used a combination of cooperation and oppression to contain these movements.
The non-frontier tribes have demanded separate districts or states within the Indian Union. The Jharkhand movement and Bodo Land agitation are examples of such movements. The Jharkhand movement began in the late 1920. Later, in 1938 the Adivasi Mahasabha and in 1949 the Jharkhand Party were launched.
In 1973 a militant tribal organisation known as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) was formed to demand a separate Jharkhand state to end the exploitation of local tribals and Harijans by non-tribals and to give preferential treatment to a large number of tribals in government and industries.
The JMM movement, which started as a tribal movement against exploitation by outside landlords and capitalists, includes the non-tribals of the region. The movement has now turned into a regional movement focussing on economic issues of backwardness and underdevelopment.
Analyse the nature of women’s movement in India and its relationship with political parties and trade unions.
Women’s Movement In India:
As a groups, the activity of women, cuts across different socio-economic strata and class interests. While this is a unifying aspect of this group, it obstructs its effective mobilization. Women lack concrete means for organize themselves into a unit. They have no solidarity of work and interest as that the working class. They are not situated in a way that a creates community feeling, instead are dispersed.
Women participate in large numbers in various movements along with other groups. But this does not amount to a women’s movements. A women’s movement exists only when gender oppression, specific to this group is called into question. It implies a struggle to transform social relation of power which oppress women. Feminism, the conscious political movement of women, has been the principle contender in the struggle for the reorganization of sexual difference and division of labour and poses its protest in terms of women’s perceptions of themselves.
Women and Political Parties:
Whatever by the reasons behind the mobilization of Indian women, the anti-imperialist movement marked the emergence of women in the political arena. Both the Gandhi led Satyagraha campaigns of 1930 and Communist led movements are noted for the large participation of women. The powerful presence of women was also felt in various peasant and working class movements, which strengthened the position of the Congress vis-a-vis the British Government.
In the post -independence period, the upsurge of militancy amount women in the late 1960s, must be seen i .i the context of a wider popular unrest and women’s movements at the global level. This period was characterized by mass movements for peace and human rights and against imperialism racism, pollution and ‘development models’ of growth.
There are three major women organizations in India: All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW); and All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). Neither of them has direct political affiliations But the AIWC is known to have close links with the Congress party, the NFIW with the CPI and AIDWA with the CPI (Marxist). All the three organizations have different views about the role of women as a social group. They also respond differently to issues articulated in die political process.
The AIWC, formed in 1927, was very active in the national movement. Now it is primarily concerned with social welfare. It has actively lobbied and pressurised the government to reform social laws concerning women. Along with other women’s organizations, the AIWC applied pressure on the government to enact the Special Marriage Act (1954), the Hindu Marriage Act and Divorce Act (1955), Inter-state Succession Act (1956) and Dowry Act (1961).
During the national movement, some communist sympathizers wanted the ATW C to transform itself from an elite organization to a mass-based one. They felt constrained by the scope and functioning of the organization. They, therefore, formed new organization NFIW, in 1954.
The NFIW projects a different view about women’s role in Indian society. It claims that the special oppression of women, is only one aspect of a more comprehensive oppressive structure, supported by a system of unequal property rights. So it aims at transforming those social relation of power which oppress not only women but all other social groups.
While recognizing the relevance of social welfare activities, the NFIW feels that it is necessary to organize women on political issues along with other groups. This is evident in its commitment to alleviate conditions of other oppressed groups: working class, peasants and tribals. Besides it has taken up innumerable individual cases of women who have been victims of rape and police tyranny. The NFIW was also active along with other women organizations in the Anti-Price rise movement between 1972-1974.
The fight for equal rights for women has been also taken up by AIDWA which came into existence as national organisation only in 1981. Its mass base is mainly among agricultural workers, peasantry, working class and professional groups. It’s campaigns have revolved around basic issues like, civic amenities, water supply regular transport to resettlement colonies and around women’s economic and legal oppression.
As compared to other organizations, AIDWA has emphasized successfully the social roots of the dowry problem and brought pressure on the government to formulate and implement anti-dowry legislations.
In the recent past leading womens’ organizations, were involved in mobilising public opinion in the Shah Bano case. Women’s organizations intervened to highlight, how gender identity was subsumed in the larger issue of community identity. The campaigned to oppose the exclusion of Muslim women from the purview of the Criminal Procedure Code. \et the government surrendered to a section of conservative Muslim opinion which was incensed by the Supreme Court verdict granting maintenance to a divorced Muslim woman.
Some women groups were unclear as to how to proceed, for the occasion was used by Hindu communalism to attack the Muslim for being backward. The conflict between communalism and women’s rights cropped up again in the incident of Sati. Women’s groups were successful in getting a bill passed against Sati, but ineffectual in getting their suggestions incorporated into the Bill. This case illustrates the argument that a women’s movement must expose women’s specific oppression while struggling against general oppressive structures.
Women and Trade Union – The problem of mobilising women through political parties are that, issues specific to the group get submerged in the concern for large issues. The views of political parties are further reflected in their attitude towards women’s participation in trade unions.
As mentioned earlier workers in the Indian manufacturing sector can be broadly divided into two categories: organized and unorganized. The census of 1981 showed that of the 63.6 million women employed, 94% are employed in the unorganised sector. Only 6% of the female force is in the organized sector. The unorganized sector is the greatest employer of women. It is an area where there is a flagrant violation of the laws, unions have failed to cover wage earners outside the factory sector in a significant way.
The participation of women in the political and productive sphere is therefore, severely limited. The problem of top-down organization is that it taps and organizes the force of women to feed its own machinery but does not make it a permanent movement. It would not be wrong to assert that women have in the main, been drawn into work which is low paid, often includes personal service elements, an in general, lacks authority.
In recent years new protest movements have developed outside these structures and sometimes voluntary agencies, research and educational institutions, many of these are focussing the relevant problems areas not covered by women organisations and political parties.
There are two main organisations of women in the informal sector Self Employed Women’s Association (SWA) and Working Women’s Forum (WWF) based in Ahmedabad and Madras respectively.
Both arose out of the frustration of several women members, working with the Congress and Communist party. They came into being with the realization that, specific issues could not always be tackled through hierarchical party organisations. From the organisational pattern of SEWA and WWF, it is clear that they are grassroot organizations. Although run by middle class women, they are less hierarchical and more flexible, than most organisations, in responding to new demands of its social group.
At around the same time as women issues and campaigns began to be more widely taken up, women began to move away from methods of agitation, such as demonstration, public campaigns, street theatre, etc. They felt that these had limited meaning unless they are accompanied by attempts to develop their own structures to aid and support individual woman. Women’s centres have been formed in several cities which provide a mixture of legal aid, health care counselling.