18 September, 2012

Village Communities and Land Tenures in Western India Under Colonial Rule

Village Communities and Land Tenures in Western India Under Colonial Rule

By- Brahma Nand (ed.)

The two documents Report on the Village Communities of the Deccan by R.N. Gooddine (1852) and Character of Land Tenures and System of Survey and Settlement in the Bombay Presidency by J. Moneteath (1914) presented in this volume explore the nature of village communities and land tenures under British rule in western India. The portrayal of village communities in the existing writings as static and unchanging institutions and as tax-gathering tools for the state or redistributive agencies of social surplus is extremely inadequate and unsatisfactory for the correct understanding of the functioning of these institutions.

Originating in deep antiquity, they have to be seen as a complex and dynamic ensemble of social relations. Unlike Russian obschina, Indian village communities were not premised upon the principles of egalitarianism but arose to cope with the competing and conflicting claims of various groups and classes to the social surplus.

Village communities were grounded in the hierarchical foundations of the rural societies and tried to institutionalize the existing social disparities. They began to crumble under the impetus of market economy and the increasing intervention of the colonial state when the process of class polarization went beyond this institutionalized limit. Also, the continuous restructuring of social relationships reflected in the changing tenurial patterns accumulating by slow degrees resulted in the long-run in ultimately dislocating the existing social structure. The historical records show that the central contention of the neo-imperialist writings regarding the fundamental continuity between the pre-colonial and colonial social structure is not sustainable.

Brahma Nand has worked for more than quarter of a century on the problems relating to the agrarian economy and society in western India under colonial rule.

ISBN  978-81-7304-820-3    2009   250p.   Rs.750/ pounds 45

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