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

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Autonomy and Organisation-Harijan and Adivasi Protest Movements

Peasants in general and poor peasants in particular are often represented us fulfilling one or other of the two stereotypes ; clients and subordinates of an elite, and often non-peasant, nucleus of organisers, or engaging in 'spontaneous' but self-destructive acts, lacking any organisational structure or sense of direction.

However, of late, the poorest sections of Indian peasantry, specifically Harijans and Adivasis, have begun to act autonomously under the leadership and organisation of militants drawn from among themselves. This paper seeks to demonstrate, by reference to two agitations in Bihar in the 1930s involving in the one case Musahars (Harijans) and in the other Santals (Adivasis), that the kind of 'autonomy* currently associated with such protest movements is very much in the tradition of protest movements launched in earlier generations.

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