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Champaran and Gandhi : Planters, Peasants and Gandhian Politics

Jacques Pouchepadass. Translated from the French by James Walker, OUP, 1999, xxii, 277 p, ISBN : 0195640845, $29.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: Glossary. Introduction. I. Indigo of Bihar: 1. Historical origins. 2. The planter as a social type. 3. Cultivated area and production (18th-20th century). II. The indigo enterprise: 1. Financial capital. 2. Landed capital. 3. Technical capital (1): fixed capital. 4. Technical capital (2): circulating capital. Rents. Wages: 1. Permanent establishment. 2. Agricultural labour. 3. Factory labour. Raw materials: 1. Raiyati indigo. 2. Seed and fertilizers. 5. Cost distribution. III. The system of production: 1. Planters and zamindars. 2. Cultivation under constraint and cultivation under contract. 3. The rise of proprietor cultivation. IV. The profitability of the plantations: 1. The rise in the cost of production. 2. The market fluctuations. 3. The profit equation. V. The contradictions: 1. Indigo and the peasant condition. 2. The plantations and the village oligarchy. 3. The agricultural labourers' standard of living. 4. The interrelationship of capitalism and the peasant mode of production. VI. Towards struggle: 1. The initial confrontations (1866-1908). 2. The crisis of natural indigo and the aggravation of tensions. 3. Nationalists and peasants (1908-16). VII. The Champaran movement (1917-1918): 1. Gandhi's involvement. 2. The mass movement. 3. The political denouement. 4. The Gandhian epilogue. VIII. Gandhi and the mobilization of the peasantry: 1. The conversion of the intellectual leaders. 2. Peasant leaders and mediators. 3. Determinants and forms of peasant resistance. 4. The political significance of the Gandhian charisma. Conclusion. Tables. Graphs. Bibliography. Index.

"This book studies the indigo plantation economy and its impact on agrarian society in colonial Bihar. It shows how the indigo business, though in part a capitalist speculation tied to the world market, relief methodically on inexpensive, age-old techniques and on the social and institutional constraints of the rural power structure to produce dye at the lowest possible cost.

"The history of indigo is traced from its beginnings in the late eighteenth century to its decline in the early twentieth century. This sets the stage for understanding the chronic peasant agitations which emerged during the 1860s, culminating in the Champaran movement of 1917-18, the first experiment in Gandhian mass mobilization.

"This book will interest all students of social and economic history as well as Gandhian politics." (jacket)

[Jacques Pouchepadass is Director of Research (History) at the National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris.]

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