ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Capitalist Agriculture and Freedom of Labour

Capitalist Agriculture and Freedom of Labour Manjit Singh S S JODHKA's article, 'Agrarian Changes and Attached Labour: Emerging Patterns in Haryana Agriculture' (EPW, September 24, 1994), and rejoinder to Jodhka by Tom Brass,' Unfree Labour and Agrarian Change: A Different View', (EPW, April 1, 1995) throw up interesting issues regarding the capitalist penetration of agriculture in the green revolution belt of north-west India. The contention between them is not as much on substantive issues as on the theoretical implications derived out of them. Jodhka (1994) tries to explain, on the basis of his field study in Haryana, that commercialisation of agriculture has unleashed new productive forces which has corresponding effect on the relations of production. The traditional ideology of patronage, argues Jodhka (1994), has been eroded along with the 'bindings' of labour to particular employer. The overall captalist development has qualitatively transformed the social relations between the landlord' and the labourer. The progressive casualisation of labour has taken place at the cost of attached labour and a new balance of class forces has been established in rural Haryana, The problem between Jodhka (1994) and Brass (1995) arises, for instance, on the interpretation of the nature of 'attachment' of attached labour. While Jodhka (1994) emphasises the 'freedom' of attachment (in spite of the economic compulsions of labour) through labour mortgage system', Brass (1995) insists on any form of conditional debt binding (whether for attached or casual labour) as an instance of proletarianisation'. The contending arguments, at the face of it, seem innocuous. However, as both of them arc commenting upon the agrarian political economy from the Marxist perspective, the above arguments may have serious repercussions on theory if not put to their appropriate place. In the following pages attempt has been made to situate the above discussion in the broader context of the debate in India and point out its methodological as also theoretical implications. To begin with, methodological issues.

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