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

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Peasants, Natural Resource Use and State Intervention in Nanchilnadu, 1850-1940

Struggle among different competing interests to exercise control over the use of natural resources is an important aspect of human history. This paper traces the consequences of state intervention in the traditional resourse use pattern of a paddy growing micro-region in south India during 1850 to 1940. The geographical confines of the study is Nanchilnadu which comprised of the two taluks of Agastiswaram and Tovalai in the present Kanyakumari district State intervention in Nanchilnadu, the author argues, destroyed the pre-existing physical balance between crop land and non-crop land in the region as a basis for the reproduction of paddy technology. Consequently, Nanchilnadu peasants were increasingly forced into the market as buyers of various agricultural inputs. This involvement of the peasants in the market, inter alia, took Us toll during the 1930s when the decline in paddy price was accompanied by inputs exhibiting downward price rigidity in the region, A large number of peasants in Nanchilnadu became excessively indebted and a number of them were forced to sell away their lands. Hypotheticall, had the traditional resource use pattern of the region continued, the harshness of the economic crisis of the 1930s on the peasantry of Nanchilnadu might have been less.

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