CHANGE, PERSISTENCE, AND THE IMPACT OF IRRIGATION: A CONTROLLED COMPARISON OF TWO NORTH INDIAN VILLAGES.
AuthorGROENFELDT, DAVID JOHN.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAnthropological fieldwork conducted in two North Indian villages focused on cultural differences attributable to recent irrigation development. The study of introduced irrigation systems is distinguished from studies of traditional irrigation systems. The varieties of impacts due to irrigation development are reviewed from the literature and hypotheses formulated relating to economic change (cropping patterns, labor demand, profitability), socio-economic behavior (occupations, patron-client relations, household composition), and cultural values (modernization and traditionalization). The methodology of controlled comparison was adopted as a means of isolating the effects of canal irrigation (Bhakra canal) in the Bagar region of Northwest India. A mostly unirrigated village served as a control to measure the effects of irrigation in a "wet" village. Data on agricultural practices, labor use, occupations, household composition, and material culture were collected from a systematic sample of 40 households in each village. The primary irrigation effects have been economic: higher yields, new crops (wheat and cotton), and much higher profits. Labor demand is much higher in the irrigated village, though cropping intensity is actually lower. Residents of the drier village have diversified into non-farm work both within and outside the village. A few families have migrated out, in contrast to the wet village which has experienced a dramatic rise in population, largely from immigrants. Sociocultural measures, including jajmani relations, household composition, and religious shrines show relatively few contrasts between the villages. Both villages have undergone significant changes in the past generation, in one case due primarily to agricultural intensification, and in the other case due to economic diversification. The villages are more remarkable for their present similarities than their differences.