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7 - State in Action, Political Settlement, and the Agrarian Flux

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 April 2024

Sejuti Das Gupta
Affiliation:
James Madison College, Michigan State University
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Summary

The task taken upon in the book was to demonstrate why, even in the globalisation era, the need to investigate the nature of the state and state– class relation remains pivotal, and to examine the extent to which the state is autonomous from proprietary classes, if at all. The point was to reflect on the agrarian transformation by asking questions about economic structures and their interplay with the state. The interplay is of two types: the differentiated effects of class on state apparatus and, therefore, on policy formulation, and the effects of policies on the agrarian classes. The aim was to document an empirically informed understanding of agrarian classes, and a differentiation within the agrarian capitalist class in particular to reflect on the growing inequality. The method followed was empirical observations based on which conceptual categories were drawn. The methodology is particularly important given that a critique of Marxist political economy has been that it has tended to generalize, particularly about the Global South, without paying enough attention to the empirical reality and cultural context (Skocpol, 2010; Poulantzas, 1973). To understand the role of the state, I scrutinized state agrarian policies between 2004 and 2013 and three other policies that relate to rural life and their effect on classes. The class structure cannot be understood without the employment reservation policy and PRI policy which cater to specific castes but, as demonstrated, foster accumulation. Hence a discussion on these policies was also included. In the Introduction, I asked: is the inequality new or structural? The answer is it is both.

The period is chosen to understand if the state made concerted efforts to bring the agrarian capitalist class into a political settlement through specific policies in reaction to the loss of the BJP in the 2004 general elections. The study thus adopted a triangular frame bringing together political– economic–social processes to understand the relations between class and state. This book raised four key questions which are answered in the subsequent sections. The book found four fractions of the agrarian proprietary class to be relevant – big farmer, landlords, gentleman farmers, and capitalist farmers – and their sources of accumulation and political bargaining. It showed differentiation within the class with only two fractions accumulating from agriculture directly.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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