ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Panchayats and Interest Groups

Study of a Bengal Village

This article, published in the 19 September 1964 issue of EPW, shows how Panchayati Raj had wide ranging effects of caste dynamics and class relations in villages of Bengal. 

Abstract of the article: Some significant changes in group behaviour and inter-group relations are slowly becoming evident as a result of Panchayati Raj.

The anomaly of social inequality co-existing with political equality has accentuated tensions in village society. Out of this process a new alignment of social forces is emerging.

One of the characteristic features of the new shape of group relations is the formation of a ‘village elite’.

Previously the elite came from the upper castes exclusively. Now it is more widely diffused. All interest groups in the village have begun to exert pressure for advancement. They do this through their own leaders. These group leaders are coming to constitute the ‘village elite’.

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