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Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology
General Editors M.FORTES, J.R.GOODY, E.R.LEACH, S.J.TAMBIAH
E L I T E POLITICS IN RURAL INDIA
Political Stratification and Political Alliances in Western Maharashtra
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7 Contexts of Kinship :
An Essay in the Family Sociology of the Gonja of Northern Ghana
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8 Marriage among a Matrilineal Elite
Elite Politics in Rural India Political stratification and political alliances
in Western Maharashtra
ANTHONY T.CARTER Department of Anthropology, University of Rochester
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, Sao Paulo
Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
www. Cambridge. org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521203661
© Cambridge University Press 1974
This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written
permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 1974 This digitally printed version 2007
A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 73—86043
ISBN 978-0-521-20366-1 hardback ISBN 978-0-521-04069-3 paperback
List of illustrations vi Acknowledgements ix
Part i Introduction
1 The problem 3 2 The region: Girvi, Phaltan Taluka, and
Western Maharashtra 15
Part 2 Aspects of political stratification
3 Political arenas and the political class 29 4 Caste status and distribution 49 5 Land, labour, credit, and share capital 59 6 Descent groups and affinal networks 77
Part 3 Political alliances
7 Vertical alliances 101 8 Horizontal alliances 127 9 Alliances and political stratification 147
10 Conclusions 162
Map of main Girvi settlement area 179 Appendix 185
Notes 188 References 195
Figures 1 The distribution of offices in Girvi 4 2 Girvi population by caste and settlement 16 3 Girvi registered voters by caste and ward 38 4 Credit and marketing co-operatives 40 5 The distribution of offices in Phaltan Taluka 47 6 Castes in Satara District 52 7 Caste rank in Girvi 54 8 Caste composition of urban and rural areas 56 9 Caste composition of selected villages 57
10 Distribution of occupancy rights in Girvi land, 1966-7 70
11 Caste affiliation of gadis employed by Girvi vatandar Marathas, 1966-7 73
12 Access to agricultural credit in Girvi, 1966-7 74 13 Ownership of shares in area co-operatives 75 14 Marathi kinship terms used by non-Brahmins 78 15 Family composition among Girvi Marathas 90 16 Marriage distances of Vatandar Marathas in
Girvi 94 17 Marriage distances of non-vatandar Marathas in
Girvi 95 18 Intra-village marriages among Girvi Marathas 96 19 Results of 1966 Girvi Panchayat Election 124 20 Kinship connections linking the Raja of Phaltan
to some of his allies 140 21 Shriram Sugar Factory election alliances 148
1 Varci alt Kadams 80
z Khalci alt Kadams 82 3 Dhumalvadi Marathas 85 4 Bodkevadi Marathas 85 5 Jadhawada Marathas 86
Maps 1 Maharashtra State 2 2 Phaltan Taluka 20 3 Main Girvi Settlement Area 179
The following work is a revised version of a dissertation submitted for the Ph.D. degree at Cambridge University in 1970. It is based on fieldwork carried out from October 1965 until September 1967. The research was supported by a Fellowship and Research Grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. In revising the dissertation I have made no attempt to keep up to date with current Indian politics. The book thus deals with events which took place in 1965-7 or earlier and does not touch on such important later events as the 1969 split in the Congress Party. I do not feel that this constitutes a serious weakness, however, for as far as I know nothing has occurred to alter the patterns of stratification and alliances described here.
I am grateful to my supervisor, Dr E. R. Leach, for much useful advice. His comments, as well as those of my dissertation examiners, S. J. Tambiah and F. G. Bailey, have been very helpful.
The late Professor Mrs Irawati Karve advised me while I was in India. It was she who suggested that I work in Phaltan and I also am indebted to her for sharing with me her vast knowledge of things Indian. Mr and Mrs B. V. Nimbkar, Professor Karve's daughter and son-in-law, kindly took me into their home in Phaltan while I was searching for a suitable village and introduced me to many of Phaltan's leading citizens. Mrs Y. B. Damle taught me Marathi with great patience and thoroughness.
I enjoyed and profited by many stimulating conversations with my colleagues J. P. Parry and Maxine Bernsen both in India and in Cam- bridge.
Nilakantrao and Tarabai Kamble, with whom I lived in Girvi, gave me a home, a family, and love. They made me feel a part of Maharashtra and I dedicate this book to them.
Department of Anthropology Anthony Carter University of Rochester February 1973
PART 1 INTRODUCTION
Map i Maharashtra State
SATARA DISTRICT MAHABALESHWAR T. WAI TALUKA
; KHANDALA MAHAL . PHALTAN TALUKA i SATARA TALUKA
KOREGAON TALUKA KHATAV TALUKA MAN TALUKA PATAN TALUKA KARAD TALUKA JAOLI TALUKA
1 The problem
This study is a descriptive analysis of political stratification and political alliances in rural Western Maharashtra. My primary focus is Girvi, a large village on the southern boundary of Phaltan Taluka near the northwest corner of Satara District, but the analysis also deals with more inclusive political arenas: Phaltan Taluka, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly constituencies which overlap with Phaltan Taluka and, to a limited degree, Satara District. I make a few references to political stratification and alli- ances in Phaltan Municipality as well in order to contrast political activity in a small market town with that in more strictly rural areas.
POLITICAL STRATIFICATION AND UNSTABLE ALLIANCES
It long has been a commonplace among interested participants and observ- ers that one important feature of Indian politics is the fact that power in the countryside is distributed unequally. Thus Mountstuart Elphinstone, Commissioner of the Deccan when the territories which include what is now called Western Maharashtra were annexed by the British in 1818, understood that orderly government could not be maintained without the support of the rural elite and he sought at every step to ally British rule with what he regarded as the rural aristocracy, the hereditary village officers as well as the great and small jagirdars (see Elphinstone 1821 and Ball- hatchet 1957). Similarly, from studies such as those of Seal (1968) and Broomfield (1966, 1968) we learn to see Indian Independence not simply as the replacement of European imperialism by Indian nationalism and democracy but also as a complex process of elite circulation. Concern with political stratification in the form of elite segments of the population or of dominant castes figures largely, too, in studies of contemporary local, state, and national politics in India and in evaluation of such development programs as the * green revolution*. In spite of all this attention, however, political stratification has been the subject of few detailed empirical studies, especially above the village level. One purpose of this study is to begin to fill that gap.
An approximate idea of the unequal distribution of power in rural Western Maharashtra, and one which strikes the observer very early, can be
obtained from an examination of office-holders in Girvi (see Fig. i). It must be remembered, however, that the distribution of power and the distribution of office are not completely equivalent. Some office-holders have no power, while some very powerful persons hold no office. Nor are all office-holders equally powerful.
Fig. i The distribution of offices in Girvi
Share of total population Number of offices held
No. of individual office- holders
No. of joint families with office-holders
24-8% 2 0
3 0 (100.1%)