The book chiefly aims at understanding the changes in the countryside that has undergone over a period of time. Its objective is to establish the changes in modes of production—from feudal to semi feudal and then to capitalistic. In this endeavour, the writer set his job in such a way that classical theories are substantiated with findings at ground level. He chooses a particular district, Srikakulam of Andhra Pradesh, for his field study.
The subject matter of the book has been classified, for clarity, into various chapters. In the first chapter, a briefing is given about the history of the human race and formation of various groups. How aborigines started to settle and settlements grew up into villages. Statistics have been given on demographic distribution and changes in the same. To establish that the capital that has flown into the villages brought with it inevitably inequalities within and among various groups, and examples have been given from various villages.
The book then goes on to explodre the popular historical myth about the ‘Golden Era’ or the glorious past. Excerpts have been given from historians like Henry Mein, Bernier, Peter Mundey, W Foster, Theodor Morrison, Alexander Tytler and others. Also the book provides proofs produced from various government reports and surveys. The writer also quotes MK Gandhi and BR Ambedkar to prove the point that changes in the face and texture of villages are not only a necessity but also a historical dialectic. At the end, it is aimed to prove that village structure has never been permanent and it is certain to explode and vanish. Like nomads, like groups, like settlements, villages too change and the agent of change is no other than capital. Still there shall be some remnants and they have been cited with all the idiosyncrasies.
The agriculture was primarily labour intensive, therefore mutual cooperation was the pre-condition for the early agriculture. In the absence of mechanisation, wooden plough was the prime instrument, while human and animal labour was the primary inputs. Owing to the necessity of many ploughs , cattle and labour, interdependence and cooperation must have been the pre-requisites for the smooth function of the production line in agriculture. But introduction of the tractor brought in a sea change, i.e. the pre-requisite was abolished and so the unity and cooperation. Against this backdrop, fed by policies, adorned by bureaucracy, rhetoric of development, the giant tool whirled through the countryside. For it cannot be gently crushed and squeezed, rustic ranks ran amok. The tool for exchange of agricultural produce, the money, turned into capital, which de-shaped and denuded all– land, from source for survival, turned into chance of investment. Frightened and despotic, the handicraftsman and the artisan were dispatched onto the dusty urban roads. Scared and scathed the peasant became foot loose reciting melic pathos. Chopped and chewn the tribes men and the fishermen crowded the hellish slums. The wand of capital is too magical to withhold temptation. This was all assiduously driven home through volumes of official reports, speeches by the powers in the legislature. People from over 100 villages, surveyed by the author, speak for themselves in a logical way. In a nutshell, on-ground research for five years has been analysed in the light of time-tested theories.
By Rohan Pal