Enterprise, Growth and Inequality in the Rural Economy of Assam : A Study of Seven Villages in Udalguri Subdivision
Based on the primary data collected from 182 rural households from seven villages (five of which are inhabited by indigenous population and the rest two are inhabited by immigrants Muslim population from Bangladesh) this study aims at knowing if cultural variables make a difference to economic performance of these households. We find that the households of two groups of villages (Group-1 consisting indigenous population and Group-2 consisting the immigrants from Bangladesh) can be discriminated among themselves on the criteria of farming efforts (the inputs they apply to agriculture and the output they raise on the land) as well as the sources of income harnessed by them. The inhabitants of Group-2 villages, once they have enough land to cultivate, practise commercial agriculture for the market to earn higher income, but the inhabitants of the Group-1 villages still continue with the traditional agriculture, chiefly with an objective to sustenance, in spite of having enough land to cultivate. The land resources make little difference to economic achievements across the two groups of villages. In short, the farmers of Group-2 villages, whenever feasible, are enterprising. Secondly, most of the farmers in Group-2 villages apply family labour for supervision, management and marketing of the produce. To work on farms they hire labourers abundantly available in the village itself and in other villages around. Thirdly, many households in the Group-1 villages derive income from service and orchards (which characterizes an extensive use of land). On the other hand, most of the households of the Group-2 villages (who own land) use land intensively. Fourthly, many inhabitants of Group-2 villages, in spite of being economically well off, are thrifty. They save to invest or to tide over the adversities and eventualities. Inhabitants of Group-1 villages spend less owing to the paucity of resources. But whenever the resources permit, they do spend lavishly. As a matter of fact, their expenses on festivities are significant. On the other hand, the inhabitants of the Group-2 villages are frugal. Lastly, there is a more acute inequality in income distribution in the Group-2 villages than in the Group-1 villages. This inequality is the result of agricultural growth that has come to a few resourceful and enterprising farmers in the Group-2 villages. Agricultural development often results into enhancement of inequality. It is not scale neutral, nor does it preserve the original distribution of productive resources in its. By altering the original distribution of productive resources in favour of the more enterprising and the more rich, growth accentuates inequality. This tendency has been observed in the Group-2 villages.
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- SK Mishra & Prasen Daimari, 2005. "Poverty and Inequality in Rural Assam An Indicative Study of Seven Villages in Udalguri Subdivision, Assam (India)," Others 0504007, EconWPA.
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