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is this 'Azaadi'?

Everyday Lives of Dalit Agricultural Labourers in a Bihar Village

Anand Chakravarti

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Has independence (azaadi) from colonial rule made a qualitative difference to the lives of landless agricultural labourers in Bihar, who constitute the poorest segment of the agrarian population in the state? This question, generated by the call of the author's conscience more than the requirements of the discipline (sociology) to which he belongs, informs the present monograph. Based on the testimonies of several Dalit labourers in a Bihar village, it highlights the betrayal of the promise of social, economic and political justice that underlay the struggle for independence – a promise that is at the heart of the Indian Constitution. It describes the everyday problems faced by the labourers in accessing the basic necessities of existence, including food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education. Their testimonies highlighting their tribulations, though confined to a single village, also reflect the dismal living conditions of their counterparts elsewhere in Bihar. The author argues that forces based on caste and class in the wider political economy of the state are antithetical to ameliorating the plight of those living in poverty.

Anand Chakravarti

Anand Chakravarti retired as Professor of Sociology at the University of Delhi in 2006. He held the S.K. Dey Chair in Local Government at the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, from July 2013 to June 2015. His publications include Contradiction and Change: Emerging Patterns of Authority in a Rajasthan Village (1975) and Social Power and Everyday Class Relations: Agrarian Transformation in North Bihar (2001).