Changing patterns of cropland use in Bist Doab, Punjab: 1951-1968
This study considers the changes which have occurred in the agrarian economy of Bist Doab, Punjab (India) during the period 1951-1968, a period coinciding with the first three Five-Year Plans of India. It sets out to map, describe and analyse these changes, to capture emerging patterns and to investigate the processes involved in change. In pursuing these aims, the study tests three hypotheses: that agricultural development is a continuous process of linked stages; that water is the most important catalytic factor in explaining and promoting agricultural development and change; and that the human element is critical in any development process and especially so in agricultural development. First the problem is identified and the sources, form and nature of data are described. An assessment of the' role of the physical, social, economic and human environments, technological advances and other related infra-structure in promoting or hindering change is made. The emerging patterns are described and the changes analysed by using various quantitative and non-quantitative techniques. The statistical techniques included the use of Regression, Correlation and Variance techniques and cluster analysis techniques. Automated cartography has made a significant contribution in mapping most of the information. The processes involved in shaping and producing these changes have been investigated. The incoming of experienced and innovative-minded farmers, irrigation water, consolidation of holdings, HYV package, and new technology have played major roles in the transformation of Punjab agriculture. The changes have been very rapid and numerous. The explanation for these changes is sought partly in physical, social, economic, political and technical factors, and partly in the responses and initiatives of the people involved. A series of themes is developed and each chapter considers a different aspect of the rural transformation in which development and change could be demonstrated. Specific case studies of farms and villages have also been carried out to investigate various aspects of change and development. Interviews with the farmers and persons connected with development have further helped in illustrating these themes. Changes reflect time sequence which is analysed and discussed. As far as possible, the spatial and regional differences are brought out and effectively explained. The themes taken up in the study are closely interrelated and, when taken together, build up a picture of dynamic change in the rural scene of Bist Doab during the period under review. The study supports the validity of all the three hypotheses put forth. The principal contribution of this study is firstly towards further understanding of the agricultural change and development in Bist Doab, or for that matter Punjab or even India, and secondly, to suggest the key elements in the processes involved in the change from subsistence to commercial agriculture. The rich experiences of the transformation of agricultural econorny in Punjab also raise a series of warning signals that must be very carefully considered in the determination of the future development possibilities, policies and programmes. It is hoped that the study will be provocative of further observation, thought and service.