Discuss the changing facts of peasant movement in India.

Discuss the changing facts of peasant movement in India.

Peasant movements are important variants of social movements(Dhangare 1983). These movement can be categorized in terms of their ideological orientation, forms of grassroots mobilization, and orientation towards change as ‘radical’ and ‘institutionalised’ to analyze their dynamics. A ‘radical peasant movement’ is viewed as a non-institutionalized large-scale collective mobilization initiated and guided by radical ideology for rapid structural change in peasant society.

A ‘institutionalised’ peasant movement’, on the other hand, is one where institutionalized mass mobilization is initiated by recognized bodies for a gradual change in the selected institutional arrangement of society. It has been observed that peasant movements, however, are not discretely radical or reformative, rather one may be an extension of another through transition over a period of time (SinghaRoy 1992: 27), that the process of mobilization and institutionalization do coexist and that institutionalization provides the new possibilities of mobilization (Oommen 1984: 251) and that the process of transformation of these movements from ‘radical’ to ‘institutionalised’ directly affects the process of new collective identity formation of the peasantry.

Peasant Movement in India

To highlight the diversified facets of the peasant movements we shall discuss some aspects of the peasant movements in India, since India has been the hotbed of several peasant movements. Peasant movements, however, are not episodic. These undergo a process of transformation along with the broad social, economic and political transformation of the society. Many of these peasant movements have retained their continuity with the past, by maintaining legacy of the celebrated peasant movements in one way or the other. However, the contemporary peasant movements have undergone substantial changes in the ideological orientation, leadership, organisation, and significantly in the forms of collective mobilisation and the tactical line of action. All these have affected the process of gross-root mobilization, process of new identity formation and transformation of radical peasant movements into an institutionalized one. Peasant movements, however, are not discretely radical or reformative, rather one may be an extension of another though transition over a period of time (SinghaRoy 1992: 27) The process of transformation of the peasant movement from ‘radical’ to ‘reformative’ directly affect the process of new collective identity formation of peasantry. Is the process of new identity formation of the peasantry autonomous of the issues, aims and ideology of a given social movement? Do they acquire an autonomous identity in the process of transformation of the movement from radicalization to institutionalization?

The process of transformation of the peasant has affected not only the form and extent of their participation in these movements, but also the very essence of their collective identity formation, the nature of the autonomy of these mobilizations and the new identity formed therein. However, the direction of transformation of the peasant movement and their consequent implication for the peasantry has not been the same across the country because of the diverse patterns of economic development and social and political formations in the peasant societies.

Since the middle of the last century the peasant societies of Indian experienced three vehement peasant movement. The poor peasantry of undivided Bengal revolted for the peasant societies of Indian experienced three vehement peasant movement: The poor peasantry of undivided Bengal revolted for Tebhaga (two-third of the share of the produce from land) 1946-47. Peasantry of the Telengana regious of Andhra Pradesh revolted against the landlords, moneylenders and the state for the abolition of forced labour, forced collection of high rate of interest and for their indignity in the society in 1948-52; and the peasantry of Naxalbari of the West Bengal revolted against the local landlords money lenders and the state in (1967-71).

Saroj Meher

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