Studying the agrarian question through intensive surveys of villages has been an important intellectual tradition in Indian social sciences. This panel would try to assemble survey-based studies of Indian villages in the 2000s to understand the nature of agrarian relations in rural India.
Agrarian studies have historically been of great relevance in development studies. The nature of agrarian relations has direct influence on the transformation of the socioeconomic characteristics of the rural population. In India, social scientists have a rich history of using the case study method to understand social formations in the countryside. These studies have employed intensive survey-based tools to analyze the social, economic, historical, political and scientific and technological aspects of agriculture, and the rural society in general. In the recent years, there has been a major revival of interest in such studies. In the larger Indian context of the unresolved agrarian question and emerging free-market policies, survey-based village studies are invaluable in helping understand both continuity and change in the nature of rural power relations and their material bases. After all, as has been argued, the village is the arena in which one important constituent of the Indian state - the landlords and big capitalist farmers - along with the majority of India's population - lives and works. The objective of the proposed panel is to put together a composite account of agrarian relations in rural India, and the processes of contemporary agrarian change. Papers would be based on intensive surveys of villages in different States of India.