Nothing dominates the American landscape like corn. You can drive from central Pennsylvania all the way to western Nebraska, a trip of nearly 1, miles, and witness it in all its glory. No other American crop can match the sheer size of corn.
Polilitical-Economic Development Linkages in Bihar, Mids Apologia pro exitu suo This paper is offered to the Hauserfest as an effort to promote and provoke dialogue on what I consider to be Walter's central lifetime research project: I originally wrote the paper in the spring of for an AAS conference organized by John Echeverri-Gent, conceiving it as the outline of a book project I then wished to take up that would compare rural development in the three places I had studied at some first-hand length: Bihar since the midsBangladesh since the early s and Maharashtra beginning in the early s.
They offered a nice set of contrasts -- the relatively successful track record in Maharashtra, particularly the sugar-growing area in the western part of the state, as against the abysmal failures experienced in Bihar and the mostly though not completely bleak trajectory established by Bangladesh.
In the paper, I believe I made a good start in sorting out the most salient aspects of the history, demography, social relations and political culture that account for the differences between these three regions.
I looked forward to exploring these patterns in my future work. After writing the paper, however, my own research trajectory changed markedly. Instead of undertaking the undoubtedly over-ambitious broad-gauge comparative study contemplated in my AAS paper, I wound up putting the paper aside unpublished and narrowing my focus considerably to Bangladesh for several years.
Then in the early s, I moved off in a different direction altogether, engaging myself in the global democratization support initiative then being undertaken by the international donor community. The experience has been an exciting one, but a part of the opportunity cost has been an almost total neglect of the subcontinental research that attracted me for so long.
The Hauserfest offers an excellent opportunity to rekindle that interest, and to assess whether the distinctions that seemed so important in still do almost a decade later.
A quick glance at the three regions finds the political climate considerably changed, to say the least. In Bihar the rise of the backwards that didn't quite get established in the Karpoori Thakur era has now achieved an ascendancy in Laloo Prasad Yadav's ministry.
And in Bangladesh, the Ershad dictatorship of the s has given way to a parliamentary democracy. At other levels, though, things do not seem so different.
Western Maharashtra's sugar belt continues I think its relative prosperity. In Bihar the Rs crore fodder scam currently swirling around Laloo Prasad Yadav seems strikingly reminiscent of the huge fertilizer scandal that beleaguered Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra in the s, both in its scope and in the strong probability that Laloo's political fortunes will be not be harmed any more by the scandal itself than Jagannath Mishra's were in his time.
And in Bangladesh, the principal defect in the political system -- the inability of the parties to accept even the most basic operating rules of comity -- continues to threaten fundamentally the basic stability of the polity. I should also mention that the foreign assistance picture has changed quite radically since the mids.
At that time budgets were relatively large, and policy expediency in pursuit of Cold War objectives often gave dictators precedence over democracy in donor calculations.
Today budgets have become much reduced, while support for democracy has attained a priority close and maybe even equivalent to that accorded to markets.
It is difficult, in a word, to imagine foreign aid any longer assuming the role it played in Figure 1.
But that is all by the way. The main issue that I hope the paper will lead the Hauserfesters to consider is this: And if so, what new approaches to comparative analysis can be offered?
I am very much looking forward to our gathering later on in May.
See you all then. Harry Success and Failure in Rural Development: I offer the outline in hopes of receiving comment and criticism that will be useful in turning it into the much longer treatment that the topic deserves.
What I am basically trying to do here is rough out a set of ideas as to why rural development has been more or less successful in Western India, while it has unquestionably been as yet a failure in most of the eastern part of the subcontinent.
Specifically, I wish to concentrate on Maharashtra and within it on the area known as Western Maharashtra as a relative success story, though the concepts to be sketched out here in many ways apply to Maharashtra as a whole and within broad limits to Gujarat as well.
As cases of failure in rural development my focus will be on Bihar and Bangladesh, though much of the reasoning would apply with equal force to Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and in very broad terms West Bengal fits in too, though its rather different history in recent decades has put a distinct spin on things there, so much so that I will not include it in the present analysis.
Between the two cases of failed development, Bihar is clearly the more intractable, though perhaps not absolutely and hopelessly so, while in Bangladesh the scope for silver linings to the dark clouds of reality is somewhat greater. The object of the exercise here is partly to seek and build an understanding of the wider patterns of development in rural South Asia, as any worthwhile effort in social science should do, but my motives also go beyond that level to search for policy options.
To be blunt about the enterprise, I wish to ask: And to anticipate my answer, I believe there are some answers in the Maharashtra experience, albeit tentative ones and ones that will at best take a fairly long time at least as policy makers think of time to bear fruit. There are indeed some useful things to be learned.
At this point, I should lay out my credentials and lack of them for the task at hand. I first tried to fathom Bihar in my dissertation research duringin an election study that was essentially political anthropology. Not until the early s did I become concerned with rural development, when I had a chance to do a field study in Bangladesh.
Since then I have returned to both Bihar and Bangladesh a number of times, and while I do not know either with the grasp and depth of specialists like Walter Hauser and Pradhan Prasad on Bihar, or Peter Bertocci and Rounaq Jahan on Bangladesh, I am for the most part comfortable with the two regions.
In working on rural Maharashtra, however, I am a relative tyro, having been there the first time only in and that merely for a couple of months. Two more recent visits have helped, as well as a good deal of reading, but I remain clearly an academic arriviste in the Deccan of Western India.
Still, I hope that I have picked up enough to gain some insights into what has been going on there and why things happen as well.
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