SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Wilson, Rosalind Kalpana (1999) Production Relations and the Patterns of Accumulation in the Context of a Stalled Transition: Agrarian Change in Contemporary Central Bihar (India). PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (13MB)


My thesis examines the series of changes which have occurred in the patterns of accumulation by cultivating landowning groups in Central Bihar from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s, and the specific impact upon production relations of sustained struggles waged by agricultural labourers. Based primarily on fieldwork carried out in 1995-96 in Nalanda district of Bihar, it investigates changes in the structure of landholdings, the use of technology, the forms, conditions, and extent of agricultural labour and other interrelated variables. I conclude that conditions in the 1970s in this area, which is dominated by cultivating landowners from the intermediate Kurmi caste, indicated a potential for a transition to capitalism based on rich peasant accumulation. However this development has essentially come to a standstill during the period from the early 1980s to the present. This 'stalling' is traced to the failure of land reforms and the persistence of a highly skewed pattern of resource endowment which has meant that unproductive economic activities such as moneylending, the sale and hire of agricultural inputs to the growing section of small and marginal cultivators, and more recently, contracting and organised crime have remained more profitable than investment in agricultural production. Further, State power, rooted as it is in this same agrarian structure, has been used by successive landed groups to appropriate development resources through institutionalised corruption. This is intensifying a crisis in the availability of key inputs and the virtual collapse of the infrastructure. The initial spurt of capital accumulation among larger landowners employing wage labour provided the catalyst for the emergence in the late 1970s of an organised movement of agricultural labourers, the majority of whom were from 'dalit' castes. I discuss the questions of class, caste and gender which have shaped this movement, and conclude that it has succeeded in effecting a number of significant changes in production relations which have occurred from the early 1980s onwards. Finally, I place the changing phenomenon of private armies and criminal gangs associated with landowning groups in this context of a stalled transition to capitalist agriculture on the one hand, and a challenge from below to both the economic as well as the political bases of the power of the dominant classes on the other.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:28

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item