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Analyses of Peasant Movements

D.N. Dhanagare

Edited by M.S.A. Rao
Manohar Publication, New Delhi, 1978, pp. xxiv 250, Rs. 65.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 1 July/August 1979

The volume under review is a bunch of studies in the sociology of social move­ments in India. Never in the history of Indian social sciences has the case for a sociology of social movements received so much attention as it has in the 1970's. Only a decade and a half ago the conven­tionalist ‘establishment’ of the Indian social sciences would have scoffed at the very idea of a 'sociology' of social move­ments and would have been totally reluc­tant to concede legitimacy to such a field of inquiry. It is, however, the current intellectual fashion among social scientists to claim involvement in the study of social movements. Perhaps there is no other topical theme on which so much literature, good as well as trash, is being brought out presently. Why there should be so much enthusiasm for and such a phenomenal spurt in the studies on social movements in India is an interesting problem in the sociology of knowledge. But, this is hardly the place to pursue it further. Of the series of two volumes the one under review is the first to come out. It consists of four micro-level studies—first by Partha Mukherji on the Naxalite movement, followed by Rajendra Singh's on the peasant movement in Basti district (U.P.), Ranga Rao's article on the peasant movement in Telengana and C. Bhat's on the reform movement among the Waddars. In his introduction M.S.A. Rao, the editor of the volume, has spelt out the scheme and rationale of the pro­posed series of the two volumes. Like all other editors Rao has attempted, though not successfully, to tie these disparate contributions into a common frame. He has also discussed general conceptual, theoretical as well as methodological issues in the study of social movements. The scope of the two volumes calls for some comment because the choice of themes and of the areas of social ferment seems to be rather arbitrary, lacking any rational justification. For example, the first volume, supposedly on the 'peasant and backward classes movement', includes studies on peasant movements from Bengal, U.P. and Telengana (Andhra) but not from other parts of India parti­cularly Bihar, Punjab, Kerala, Maha­rashtra and Rajasthan. To understand the process of peasant mobilization in relation to the changing agrarian social structure in India they were no less important. Similarly, the dalit Panthers represent one of ...

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