ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Alakh N SharmaSubscribe to Alakh N Sharma

Structural Change in Bihar's Rural Economy

Bihar has been showing signs of emerging from stagnation and backwardness. For this to occur in full, an agrarian transformation is central in a state where urbanisation remains very low. This paper uses longitudinal household data from a sample of villages to explore changes in production relations, land and other assets, agricultural development and occupational diversification. There has been a significant change in class structure and a shift away from agricultural occupations for male workers (much less for female), but non-agricultural work is mainly outside the village and largely outside the state. Real wages have risen substantially, more than can be explained by rising agricultural productivity, migration being an important contributory factor. But the segmentation of the rural labour market has increased and local development is uneven.

Flexibility, Employment and Labour Market Reforms in India

There is intense debate on labour market reforms in India today. It is argued that but for restrictive labour laws that create inflexibility in the labour market, the Indian economy would have experienced a higher growth of employment. On the other hand, this view is vehemently contested by trade unions and many other economists. This paper shows that the Indian labour market is quite flexible despite so-called restrictive labour laws. However, at the same time, Indian labour laws are so numerous, complex and even ambiguous that they promote litigation rather than the resolution of problems related to industrial relations. A comprehensive view on labour market reforms is required, one that addresses the needs of both employers and workers. The author recommends simplifying and rationalising the complex and ambiguous extant pieces of labour legislation into a simple code that allows for labour adjustment with adequate social and income security for the workers.

Agrarian Relations and Socio-Economic Change in Bihar

Two developments in the last three decades - mobilisation of the poor peasants and increased migration - appear to be the most striking agents of change in rural Bihar. These changes were set in motion from the 1950s, following an incomplete land reform programme that ostensibly favoured the middle landlord class. Increasing poverty, poor returns from land and rising rent demands have since then widened the ranks of the poor peasantry which now consist of a mix of several castes. It is again from these sections that most migration to urban areas, chiefly as unskilled or low-skilled labour, takes place. On the other hand, middle castes chiefly drawn from upper backward castes increasingly make up the landlord class. It is these caste groups that have been able to perpetuate their dominance by also making up and aligning with the dominant political classes. On their part, the radical Left organisations that have made headway in several areas of south and north Bihar have been unable to mobilise rising peasant class consciousness in rural areas, due to their inability to fully comprehend the dichotomy that defines caste and class in the state.

Impact of Social Labelling on Child Labour in Carpet Industry

Social labelling is an initiative introduced in the nineties with a view to eliminating the exploitation of child labour in carpet production in India. The four labelling programmes, viz, RUGMARK, Kaleen, STEP and Care and Fair are analysed in terms of their mechanisms, approaches, objectives and their effectiveness over 35 villages spread over nine districts in three states in India.

Political Economy of Poverty in Bihar

Alakh N Sharma The acute poverty situation of Bihar can be traced to the economic backwardness of both the agricultural and industrial sectors. While natural or technological factors such as floods, poor development of infrastructure and high population density play their part, the state's backwardness is related more to the inequitous and exploitative socio- economic structure, lack of political leadership and almost total collapse of the administrative and law and order machinery to the point where it is said that in Bihar 'the state has withered away', These conditions have created a milieu of non-development in which even large-scale poverty eradication programmes have had little impact. The only ray of hope is the increasing awareness and mobilisation of the rural poor, whose potential can be harnessed to improve the management of such schemes and to pressurise the state into making structural changes.

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