Agricultural Change and Family Farming in the Canal Colonies of West Punjab 1886-1947

Auteur Aysha Shafiq
Directeur /trice Prof. Gopalan Balachandran
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s)
Résumé de la thèse One aspect of Colonial rule in India was the introduction of new agricultural technologies to boost the rural economy for increased production and revenue. This was particularly the case with the north-western province, Punjab, where an extensive canal system to irrigate millions of acres of wasteland was introduced leading to the emergence of rural settlements, known as the canal colonies. The development impact of this intervention has been widely criticized but the wider social consequences are often overlooked. In order to address this gap, the major objective of the present research is to develop an understanding of the socio-economic impact of the canal colonies in Punjab by focusing on the peasant family farms as a unit of analysis. It also looks into processes of development and dispossession. The time period selected is from 1886 when first canal projects were launched until 1947 when India and Pakistan gained independence from British colonialism. By tracing the evolution of colonial administrative logic the study would explore how family farms acquired certain significance for agricultural policy. Along with the response of peasant farms to new technology and market, this research will also discover how they coped with the conflicts generated by social engineering attempts by the British. This research project seeks to make significant contribution towards social history of South Asia and towards theoretical understanding of family farming. It will also have implications for development policy in agriculture where subsistence and family farming are current issues of concern. A tangential outcome will be historical commentary on large-scale land acquisitions and value of so called wastelands.  
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