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Gupta, Swapan Das (1980) Local Politics in Bengal: Midnapur District 1907-1934. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis studies the development and social character of Indian nationalism in the Midnapur district of Bengal. It begins by showing the Government of Bengal in 1907 in a deepening political crisis. The structural imbalances caused by the policy of active intervention in the localities could not be offset by the 'paternalistic' and personalised district administration. In Midnapur, the situation was compounded by the inability of government to secure its traditional political base based on zemindars. Real power in the countryside lay in the hands of petty landlords and intermediaries who consolidated their hold in the economic environment of growing commercialisation in agriculture. This was reinforced by a caste movement of the Mahishyas which injected the district with its own version of 'peasant-pride'. The thesis also argues that till 1921, the nationalist movement failed to involve the rural activists. Urban and rural political activity developed autonomously and without mutual reference. The radical change in nationalist politics in 1921 enabled some politicians to make the connection between these two currents. During the Non Co-operation movement, Midnapur witnessed a successful movement against additional rural taxation. It has also been contended that after 1922 the district Congress consciously strove to articulate the interests of 'well-to-do cultivators', especially the jotedars and tenure-holding ryots, and established its political hegemony on that basis. This was put to the test during the Civil Disobedience movement, when Midnapur, almost alone in all Bengal, was able to put up a formidable challenge to British rule. The thesis concludes that given the seemingly 'non-antagonistic' stretegy employed by Congress in its relations with indigenous society, the social character of the nationalist movement was determined by the existing hierarchical patterns of class domination. In Midnapur, this found expression in the aggressive, but ideologically conservative, movement of the rural rich led by the intermediary jotedars.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:32

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