Caste Dominance and Agricultural Development in ...



Paper title Caste Dominance and Agricultural Development in Village India
Paper author(s) Satadal Dasgupta
Proceedings title Rural Sociological Society (RSS), 1972
Date 1972
Abstract The objective is to develop a theoretical scheme in relating caste structure to agricultural development in Indian villages by using the concept of caste dominance originally proposed & used by Srinivas in interpreting the process of Sanskritization in Ru India. The basic argument is that it is the dominance of an agricultural caste which is positively related to agriculture in Indian villages. An agricultural caste is defined as a caste to the members of which agriculture is a caste &/or traditional occupation. It is argued that cultivators belonging to an agricultural caste who are taught the skills of their own caste &/or traditional occupation, & to whom cultivation is a primary occupation, would attach more importance to agriculture in terms of skill in-put, interest & time spent in it than the cultivators belonging to non-agricultural castes. Not only economic dominance in terms of ownership of sizeable amount of locally arable land, but also numerical dominance of an agricultural caste positively contribute to agriculture because modern farming ideas flow smoothly & extensively among cultivators who belong to the same caste. The socio-ritual position of the agricultural castes in local caste hierarchy is not high enough for its members to consider direct manual involvement in agriculture to be demeaning to their status & not low enough to lack capital & skill to invest in agriculture. Thus the concept of dominant caste, not as a mediator of models of Sanskritization, but as a structural unit of Indian villages could be effectively used in interpreting the relationship between caste & agriculture. All 3 attributes of dominant caste-numerical, hierarchical & economic-have relevance for this problem. Numerical dominance of an agricultural caste contributes to the homogeneity of the village population to the extent that it helps dissemination of innovative ideas. Lack of hierarchial dominance & subservience on the part of the agricultural castes in local caste hierarchy enables its members to ininvest manual labor & managerial skill in agriculture respectively. Finally, the economic dominance in terms of ownership of large-sized farms helps the members of an agricultural caste to engage intensively, in terms of time & interest, in productive agricultural activity.

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