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By Joseph Tharamangalam

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Additional resources for Agrarian Class Conflict: The Political Mobilization of Agricultural Labourers in Kuttanad, South India

Sample text

There is little doubt, however, that what land is available is very unequally distributed. Unfortunately, the researcher who attempts to collect information on landownership in Kuttanad at the present time faces a serious problem; those who own above the legal limit of six hectares or even close to it are reluctant, if not altogether unwilling, to provide him with the relevant information. Typically, a landlord discloses only those lands he owns on paper as his own, the rest, the excess land, having been transferred to other names already.

A shopkeeper in Alleppey told me that now it was not uncommon to find young women buying family-planning devices openly from the shops—something that would be considered shocking in most other parts of India. 3 Sources: Census of India, 1971; Report of the Kuttanad Inquiry Commission. 79 Source: District Census Handbook, Alleppey, p. 48. 14 Source: Adapted from figures in District Census Handbook, Alleppey, p. 48. ECOLOGICAL FEATURES The basic ecological datum about Kuttanad is that it is waterlogged; its paddy fields lie below mean sea level and are submerged under water during the greater part of the year.

16 Being deeper, the kayal areas present greater problems in bunding and draining water. However, the difference between these and the remaining karappadams is only one of degree, since all paddy cultivation in Kuttanad requires bunding and draining operations. This system of cultivation is known as punja cultivation in Kerala. THE RECLAMATIONS The reclamations of land from the backwaters of Kuttanad have had a remarkable and unusual history. In the first place, they are among the few operations of their kind anywhere to be undertaken largely by relatively small cultivators with slender resources.

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