In this seminar, Sejuti Das Gupta analyses India’s agrarian transformation after 2004. Following its loss at these elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) realized the electoral power of the rural proprietary classes and attempted to include them in political settlements in states under BJP rule. This included deliberate policy efforts to create new opportunities for these rural proprietary classes. The BJP-ruled states of Gujarat, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh reinstated subsidies for agriculture, directed more investment towards commercial crops, particularly high value crops, and increased budgetary allocation for private irrigation and green houses. On the one hand, these policy initiatives had a differential impact on various factions of the rich farmer class where some benefited more than others. On the other hand, a simultaneous relaxation of land acquisition laws enabled and encouraged non-agrarian proprietary classes to enter rural areas and agriculture. Consequently, these new policies in BJP-ruled states narrowed the urban-rural divide, as well as the gap among India’s three proprietary classes, rich farmers, professionals, and the industrial capitalist class. Das Gupta shows how this has given rise to a new petty bourgeoisie, which straddles multiple economic sectors, and operates as a bridge between rich farmer and industrial capitalist. Such agrarian transformations, she argues, has wider ramifications for the politics of Indian democracy, its class structures, and economic inequality.
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