NCERT Textbook - Change and Development in Rural Society Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Sociology Class 12

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Change and Development in Rural Society Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Change and
Development in
Rural Society
4
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 2


Change and
Development in
Rural Society
4
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Social Change and Development in India
56
I  ndian society is primarily a rural society though urbanisation is growing.  The
majority of India’s people live in rural areas (67 per cent, according to the 2001
Census). They make their living from agriculture or related occupations. This
means that agricultural land is the most important productive resource for a
great many Indians. Land is also the most important form of property. But land
is not just a ‘means of production’ nor just a ‘form of property’.  Nor is agriculture
just a form of livelihood.  It is also a way of life. Many of our cultural practices
and patterns can be traced to our agrarian backgrounds. You will recall from
the earlier chapters how closely interrelated structural and cultural changes
are. For example, most of the New Year festivals in different regions of India –
such as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in Punjab and Ugadi in
Karnataka to name just a few – actually celebrate the main harvest season and
herald the beginning of a new agricultural season. Find out about other harvest
festivals.
There is a close connection between agriculture and culture. The nature and
practice of agriculture varies greatly across the different regions of the country.
These variations are reflected in the different regional cultures. One can say that
both the culture and social structure in rural India are closely bound up with
agricultural and the agrarian way of life.
 Agriculture is the single most important source of livelihood for the majority
of the rural population. But the rural is not just agriculture. Many activities that
support agriculture and village life are also sources of livelihood for people in
rural India. For example, a large number of artisans such as potters, carpenters,
weavers, ironsmiths, and goldsmiths are found in rural areas. They were once
part and parcel of the village economy. Their numbers have been steadily lessening
since the colonial period. You have already read in Chapter 1 how the influx of
manufactured goods replaced hand-made products.
Rural life also supported many other specialists and crafts persons as story-
tellers, astrologers, priests, water-distributors, and oil-pressers. The diversity
Different means of agriculture and related festivals.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 3


Change and
Development in
Rural Society
4
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Social Change and Development in India
56
I  ndian society is primarily a rural society though urbanisation is growing.  The
majority of India’s people live in rural areas (67 per cent, according to the 2001
Census). They make their living from agriculture or related occupations. This
means that agricultural land is the most important productive resource for a
great many Indians. Land is also the most important form of property. But land
is not just a ‘means of production’ nor just a ‘form of property’.  Nor is agriculture
just a form of livelihood.  It is also a way of life. Many of our cultural practices
and patterns can be traced to our agrarian backgrounds. You will recall from
the earlier chapters how closely interrelated structural and cultural changes
are. For example, most of the New Year festivals in different regions of India –
such as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in Punjab and Ugadi in
Karnataka to name just a few – actually celebrate the main harvest season and
herald the beginning of a new agricultural season. Find out about other harvest
festivals.
There is a close connection between agriculture and culture. The nature and
practice of agriculture varies greatly across the different regions of the country.
These variations are reflected in the different regional cultures. One can say that
both the culture and social structure in rural India are closely bound up with
agricultural and the agrarian way of life.
 Agriculture is the single most important source of livelihood for the majority
of the rural population. But the rural is not just agriculture. Many activities that
support agriculture and village life are also sources of livelihood for people in
rural India. For example, a large number of artisans such as potters, carpenters,
weavers, ironsmiths, and goldsmiths are found in rural areas. They were once
part and parcel of the village economy. Their numbers have been steadily lessening
since the colonial period. You have already read in Chapter 1 how the influx of
manufactured goods replaced hand-made products.
Rural life also supported many other specialists and crafts persons as story-
tellers, astrologers, priests, water-distributors, and oil-pressers. The diversity
Different means of agriculture and related festivals.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Change and Development in Rural Society
57
of occupations in rural India was reflected
in the caste system, which in most regions
included specialist and ‘service’ castes such
as Washermen, Potters, and Goldsmiths.
Some of these traditional occupations have
declined. But increasing interconnection of
the rural and urban economies have led to
many diverse occupations. Many people
living in rural areas are employed in, or have
livelihoods based in, rural non-farm
activities. For instance, there are rural
residents employed in government services
such as the Postal and Education
Departments, factory workers, or in the
army, who earn their living through non-
agricultural activities.
ACTIVITY 4.1
Ø Think of an important festival that is celebrated in your
region that has its roots in agrarian society. What is
the significance of the various practices or rituals that
are associated with that festival, and how are they
linked to agriculture?
Ø Most towns and cities in India have grown and
encompassed surrounding villages. Can you identify
an area of the city or town where you live that used to
be a village, or areas that were once agricultural land?
How do you think this growth takes place, and what
happens to the people who used to make a living from
that land?
The Diversity of Occupations
57
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 4


Change and
Development in
Rural Society
4
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Social Change and Development in India
56
I  ndian society is primarily a rural society though urbanisation is growing.  The
majority of India’s people live in rural areas (67 per cent, according to the 2001
Census). They make their living from agriculture or related occupations. This
means that agricultural land is the most important productive resource for a
great many Indians. Land is also the most important form of property. But land
is not just a ‘means of production’ nor just a ‘form of property’.  Nor is agriculture
just a form of livelihood.  It is also a way of life. Many of our cultural practices
and patterns can be traced to our agrarian backgrounds. You will recall from
the earlier chapters how closely interrelated structural and cultural changes
are. For example, most of the New Year festivals in different regions of India –
such as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in Punjab and Ugadi in
Karnataka to name just a few – actually celebrate the main harvest season and
herald the beginning of a new agricultural season. Find out about other harvest
festivals.
There is a close connection between agriculture and culture. The nature and
practice of agriculture varies greatly across the different regions of the country.
These variations are reflected in the different regional cultures. One can say that
both the culture and social structure in rural India are closely bound up with
agricultural and the agrarian way of life.
 Agriculture is the single most important source of livelihood for the majority
of the rural population. But the rural is not just agriculture. Many activities that
support agriculture and village life are also sources of livelihood for people in
rural India. For example, a large number of artisans such as potters, carpenters,
weavers, ironsmiths, and goldsmiths are found in rural areas. They were once
part and parcel of the village economy. Their numbers have been steadily lessening
since the colonial period. You have already read in Chapter 1 how the influx of
manufactured goods replaced hand-made products.
Rural life also supported many other specialists and crafts persons as story-
tellers, astrologers, priests, water-distributors, and oil-pressers. The diversity
Different means of agriculture and related festivals.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Change and Development in Rural Society
57
of occupations in rural India was reflected
in the caste system, which in most regions
included specialist and ‘service’ castes such
as Washermen, Potters, and Goldsmiths.
Some of these traditional occupations have
declined. But increasing interconnection of
the rural and urban economies have led to
many diverse occupations. Many people
living in rural areas are employed in, or have
livelihoods based in, rural non-farm
activities. For instance, there are rural
residents employed in government services
such as the Postal and Education
Departments, factory workers, or in the
army, who earn their living through non-
agricultural activities.
ACTIVITY 4.1
Ø Think of an important festival that is celebrated in your
region that has its roots in agrarian society. What is
the significance of the various practices or rituals that
are associated with that festival, and how are they
linked to agriculture?
Ø Most towns and cities in India have grown and
encompassed surrounding villages. Can you identify
an area of the city or town where you live that used to
be a village, or areas that were once agricultural land?
How do you think this growth takes place, and what
happens to the people who used to make a living from
that land?
The Diversity of Occupations
57
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Social Change and Development in India
58
4.1 AGRARIAN STRUCTURE: CASTE AND
CLASS IN RURAL INDIA
Agricultural land is the single most important resource and form of property
in rural society. But it is not equally distributed among people living in a
particular village or region. Nor does everyone have access to land. In fact, the
distribution of landholdings in most regions is highly unequal among
households. In some parts of India the majority of rural households own at
least some land – usually very small plots. In other areas as much as 40 to 50
per cent of families do not own any land at all. This means that they are
dependent on agricultural labour or other kinds of work for their livelihoods.
This of course means that a few families are well-to-do. The majority live just
above or below the poverty line.
In most regions of India, women are usually excluded from ownership of
land, because of the prevailing patrilineal kinship system and mode of
inheritance. By law women are supposed to have an equal share of family
property. In reality they only have limited rights and some access to land only
as part of a household headed by a man.
The term agrarian structure is often used to refer to the structure or
distribution of landholding. Because agricultural land is the most important
productive resource in rural areas, access to land shapes the rural class
structure. Access to land largely determines what role one plays in the process
of agricultural production. Medium and large landowners are usually able to
earn sufficient or even large incomes from cultivation (although this depends
on agricultural prices, which can fluctuate greatly, as well as other factors
such as the monsoon). But agricultural labourers are more often than not
paid below the statutory minimum wage and earn very little. Their incomes
are low. Their employment is insecure. Most agricultural labourers are
daily-wage workers. And do not have work for many days of the year. This is
known as underemployment. Similarly, tenants (cultivators who lease their
land from landowners) have lower incomes than owner-cultivators. Because
they have to pay a substantial rent to the landowner – often as much as 50 to
75 per cent of the income from the crop.
Agrarian society, therefore, can be understood in terms of its class structure.
But we must also remember structure that it is through the caste system. In
rural areas, there is a complex relationship between caste and class. This
relationship is not always straightforward. We might expect that the higher
castes have more land and higher incomes. And that there is a correspondence
between caste and class as one moves down the hierarchy. In many areas this
is broadly true but not exactly. For instance, in most areas the highest caste,
the Brahmins, are not major landowners, and so they fall outside the agrarian
structure although they are a part of rural society. In most regions of India,
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Page 5


Change and
Development in
Rural Society
4
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Social Change and Development in India
56
I  ndian society is primarily a rural society though urbanisation is growing.  The
majority of India’s people live in rural areas (67 per cent, according to the 2001
Census). They make their living from agriculture or related occupations. This
means that agricultural land is the most important productive resource for a
great many Indians. Land is also the most important form of property. But land
is not just a ‘means of production’ nor just a ‘form of property’.  Nor is agriculture
just a form of livelihood.  It is also a way of life. Many of our cultural practices
and patterns can be traced to our agrarian backgrounds. You will recall from
the earlier chapters how closely interrelated structural and cultural changes
are. For example, most of the New Year festivals in different regions of India –
such as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in Punjab and Ugadi in
Karnataka to name just a few – actually celebrate the main harvest season and
herald the beginning of a new agricultural season. Find out about other harvest
festivals.
There is a close connection between agriculture and culture. The nature and
practice of agriculture varies greatly across the different regions of the country.
These variations are reflected in the different regional cultures. One can say that
both the culture and social structure in rural India are closely bound up with
agricultural and the agrarian way of life.
 Agriculture is the single most important source of livelihood for the majority
of the rural population. But the rural is not just agriculture. Many activities that
support agriculture and village life are also sources of livelihood for people in
rural India. For example, a large number of artisans such as potters, carpenters,
weavers, ironsmiths, and goldsmiths are found in rural areas. They were once
part and parcel of the village economy. Their numbers have been steadily lessening
since the colonial period. You have already read in Chapter 1 how the influx of
manufactured goods replaced hand-made products.
Rural life also supported many other specialists and crafts persons as story-
tellers, astrologers, priests, water-distributors, and oil-pressers. The diversity
Different means of agriculture and related festivals.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Change and Development in Rural Society
57
of occupations in rural India was reflected
in the caste system, which in most regions
included specialist and ‘service’ castes such
as Washermen, Potters, and Goldsmiths.
Some of these traditional occupations have
declined. But increasing interconnection of
the rural and urban economies have led to
many diverse occupations. Many people
living in rural areas are employed in, or have
livelihoods based in, rural non-farm
activities. For instance, there are rural
residents employed in government services
such as the Postal and Education
Departments, factory workers, or in the
army, who earn their living through non-
agricultural activities.
ACTIVITY 4.1
Ø Think of an important festival that is celebrated in your
region that has its roots in agrarian society. What is
the significance of the various practices or rituals that
are associated with that festival, and how are they
linked to agriculture?
Ø Most towns and cities in India have grown and
encompassed surrounding villages. Can you identify
an area of the city or town where you live that used to
be a village, or areas that were once agricultural land?
How do you think this growth takes place, and what
happens to the people who used to make a living from
that land?
The Diversity of Occupations
57
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Social Change and Development in India
58
4.1 AGRARIAN STRUCTURE: CASTE AND
CLASS IN RURAL INDIA
Agricultural land is the single most important resource and form of property
in rural society. But it is not equally distributed among people living in a
particular village or region. Nor does everyone have access to land. In fact, the
distribution of landholdings in most regions is highly unequal among
households. In some parts of India the majority of rural households own at
least some land – usually very small plots. In other areas as much as 40 to 50
per cent of families do not own any land at all. This means that they are
dependent on agricultural labour or other kinds of work for their livelihoods.
This of course means that a few families are well-to-do. The majority live just
above or below the poverty line.
In most regions of India, women are usually excluded from ownership of
land, because of the prevailing patrilineal kinship system and mode of
inheritance. By law women are supposed to have an equal share of family
property. In reality they only have limited rights and some access to land only
as part of a household headed by a man.
The term agrarian structure is often used to refer to the structure or
distribution of landholding. Because agricultural land is the most important
productive resource in rural areas, access to land shapes the rural class
structure. Access to land largely determines what role one plays in the process
of agricultural production. Medium and large landowners are usually able to
earn sufficient or even large incomes from cultivation (although this depends
on agricultural prices, which can fluctuate greatly, as well as other factors
such as the monsoon). But agricultural labourers are more often than not
paid below the statutory minimum wage and earn very little. Their incomes
are low. Their employment is insecure. Most agricultural labourers are
daily-wage workers. And do not have work for many days of the year. This is
known as underemployment. Similarly, tenants (cultivators who lease their
land from landowners) have lower incomes than owner-cultivators. Because
they have to pay a substantial rent to the landowner – often as much as 50 to
75 per cent of the income from the crop.
Agrarian society, therefore, can be understood in terms of its class structure.
But we must also remember structure that it is through the caste system. In
rural areas, there is a complex relationship between caste and class. This
relationship is not always straightforward. We might expect that the higher
castes have more land and higher incomes. And that there is a correspondence
between caste and class as one moves down the hierarchy. In many areas this
is broadly true but not exactly. For instance, in most areas the highest caste,
the Brahmins, are not major landowners, and so they fall outside the agrarian
structure although they are a part of rural society. In most regions of India,
2015-16(21/01/2015)
Change and Development in Rural Society
59
the major landowning groups belong to the upper castes. In each region, there
are usually just one or two major landowning castes, who are also numerically
very important. Such groups were termed by the sociologist M.N. Srinivas as
dominant castes. In each region, the dominant caste is the most powerful group,
economically and politically, and dominates local society. Examples of dominant
landowning groups are the Jats and Rajputs of U.P., the Vokkaligas and
Lingayats in Karnataka, Kammas and Reddis in Andhra Pradesh, and Jat Sikhs
in Punjab.
While dominant landowning groups are usually middle or high ranked
castes, most of the marginal farmers and landless belong to lower caste groups.
In official classification they belong to the Scheduled Castes or Tribes (SC/
STs) or Other Backward Classes (OBCs). In many regions of India, the former
‘Untouchable’ or dalit castes were not allowed to own land and they provided
most of the agricultural labour for
the dominant landowning groups.
This also created a labour force that
allowed the landowners to cultivate
the land intensively and get higher
returns.
The rough correspondence
between caste and class means that
typically the upper and middle castes
also had the best access to land and
resources, and hence to power and
privilege. This had important
implications for the rural economy
and society. In most regions of the country, a ‘proprietary caste’ group owns
most of the resources and can command labour to work for them. Until recently,
practices such as begar or free labour were prevalent in many parts of northern
India.  Members of low ranked caste groups
had to provide labour for a fixed number of
days per year to the village zamindar or
landlord.  Similarly, lack of resources, and
dependence on the landed class for economic,
social, and political support, meant that many
of the working poor were tied to landowners
in ‘hereditary’ labour relationships (bonded
labour), such as the halpati system in Gujarat
(Breman, 1974) and the jeeta system in
Karnataka. Although such practices have
been abolished legally, they continue to exist
in many areas. In a village of northern Bihar,
the majority of the landowners are
Bhumihars, who are also the dominant caste.
BOX 4.1
There is a direct correspondence between
agricultural productivity and the agrarian structure.
In areas of assured irrigation, those with plentiful
rainfall or artificial irrigation works (such as rice-growing
regions in river deltas, for instance the Kaveri basin in Tamil
Nadu) more labour was needed for intensive cultivation.  Here
the most unequal agrarian structures developed. The agrarian
structure of these regions was characterised by a large
proportion of landless labourers, who were often ‘bonded’
workers belonging to the lowest castes. (Kumar 1998).
ACTIVITY 4.2
Ø Think about what you have
learned about the caste
system. Outline the various
linkages between the
agrarian or rural class
structure and caste. Discuss
in terms of different access
to resources, labour,
occupation.
2015-16(21/01/2015)
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