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

PunjabSubscribe to Punjab

Punjab’s Draft Land Leasing Bill

The rationale behind Punjab’s land leasing draft bill is examined from a smallholder/landless tenant’s perspective, and implications for the lease land markets of Punjab if the draft bill is enacted in a law are discussed.

Labour Partnership, Sharecropping and Tribal Migration

This paper discusses the distinct form of sharecropping arrangement known in Gujarat as bhagiya mazdoori involving migrant tribal households. The main purpose is to understand this institution in terms of its specific features as practised in north Gujarat positioned as it is in a changing agrarian system. The livelihood condition of the tribal sharecroppers in the source villages and their work and living conditions in the farms at the destination locations are the core themes of the discussion. The paper delineates relevant policy measures to prevent perpetuation of exploitative arrangements that bhagiya system represents.

Of Half-moon Nights and Peasant Tragedy

By reading rural distress and peasant suicide in Punjabi literature produced in the realist mode, this paper conducts the economic analysis of the fictional small peasant—an atomised entity divorced from his land, which is now simply a means of production in a capitalist agrarian market. It reads the production of Gurdial Singh’s award-winning novel Adh Chanani Raat (1972) as prophesising the long-term adversities concomitant with the productive excesses of the green revolution in Punjab. The novel argues for a model of heroism rooted in Punjabi social tradition and collective history, which struggles against this alienating influence of capitalist economic forces to find succour in an older way of life. Therefore, this paper attempts to study Gurdial Singh’s reworking of peasant consciousness as a “narrative of oppression” where the small farmer is a heroic figure because of his resilience in the face of inevitable tragedy.

A New Class Alliance in the Indian Countryside?

Processes of socio-economic differentiation alter balances of power. This article explores the possibility that the current wave of farmers’ protests partly reflects a resetting of class alliances in the Indian countryside centred on small farmers and farmer-labourers who now account for over 85% of farming households. It does so by returning to the new farmers’ movement mobilisations of the 1980s and 1990s, and comparing three key relations between then and now: relations between farmers and the state, between farmers and large capital, and relations within the countryside between larger and smaller farmers and landless labourers. Smaller farmers, it is argued, are now more likely to ally with farmer-labourers and the landless, who are in turn less dependent on larger farmers than they used to be because of the growth of non-agricultural wage labour. The neo-liberal Indian state’s pro-corporate farm bills mean that contradictions within the countryside are for now overshadowed by external contradictions. And if implemented, they will accelerate processes of socio-economic differentiation in ways that make a new centre of political gravity in the Indian countryside more likely.

Indebtedness among Farmers in Punjab

While debt among farmers is no longer considered undesirable, ever-mounting debt and reduced repayment capacity surely are. The existing literature has found a deep connection between indebtedness and suicides among farmers and perceived it as a reflection of growing agrarian distress. Based on the findings of a primary survey conducted in Punjab, we try to assess the debt position of Punjab’s farmers, and present the magnitude and burden of debt, highlighting the farmers’ debt repaying capacity. The source and purpose of credit are discussed in detail and the factors affecting indebtedness have also been explored.

Scale Neutrality in Indian Agriculture

Marginal and small farm sizes constitute more than 85% of the operational holdings in India. Several concerns regarding the sustainability, efficiency, access to formal sources of credit and the scale neutrality of such credit plague the smallholders. This study finds that the smallholders are efficient but the returns to them are woefully low, which threatens their sustainability. Further, the smallholders have to rely more on non-institutional sources for their credit requirement and often with a greater interest burden. In addition, the credit provided by formal sources is not scale-neutral. This posits a difficulty for policy praxis, which must urgently address these issues plaguing the smallholders.

Citizenship and Women’s Agency

Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India by Natasha Behl, New York: Oxford University Press, 2019; pp xi + 172, price not indicated.

Agrarian Crisis and Agricultural Labourer Suicides in Punjab

Punjab’s economy is engulfed in a serious agrarian crisis. The capitalisation of agricultural production processes has squeezed employment opportunities and wage rates in the farm sector. The agrarian crisis in the state has pushed the agricultural labourers towards low earnings and debt traps, which have led them towards death by suicide. Based on a door-to-door and village-to-village survey of 2,400 villages falling in the jurisdiction of six districts of Punjab, the present study reveals that 7,303 agricultural labourers died by suicide in the state during 2000–18. The financial compensation, debt waiver, provision of healthcare and education of victim families along with safeguarding of legal entitlements regarding wage enhancements and land rights, and agro-industrialisation are main policy measures for addressing the act of suicide by agricultural labourers.

Diabetes Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies

Awareness about risk factors is a prerequisite for the prevention of diabetes mellitus amongst diabetic patients. A questionnaire-based survey of diabetic patients adapted from “WHO-STEPS Surveillance” was performed during 2018 in Punjab, using descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression. The overall awareness level was found to be 83%, but perception and comprehension regarding risk factors and prevention strategies are still at a nascent stage. There is need for innovative awareness programmes and government campaigns on the consequences of lifestyle modification, sedentary lifestyle, and altering epidemiology of diabetes.

Punjab Agriculture

Punjab’s economy, including its agriculture, has been in crisis for some time on various fronts. But the pandemic provided an opportunity to the state government to set up an expert committee to suggest measures for rolling out a medium- and long-term strategy for the revival of the state economy. This article provides critical commentary on the various recommendations of the committee to deal with the agrarian crisis and presents an alternative perspective.

Land Acquisition in Punjab

Analysing a case of development-induced displacement through a survey of land dispossession in Punjab reveals how displacement for development projects adversely affects farmers economically, socially and culturally. Fertile land acquired for a thermal power plant remains unused, depriving villagers of their livelihoods as well as the benefits that could have accrued had the project materialised. Large-scale land acquisition for the establishment of thermal power plants causes irreversible changes in the lives of local communities that are deprived of their source of livelihood by land acquisition and also gives rise to other social, economic, political and ecological changes. To avert the crisis resulting from the acquisition of agricultural land for developmental purposes, “long-term livelihood opportunities” for dispossessed farmers should be rebuilt, as compensation acts as wealth, and not income, for agrarian societies.

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