Agrarian Politics and Rural Development in West Bengal *
This chapter examines recent attempts to address the challenge of rural poverty in West Bengal. One distinguishing feature of the recent history of the said state is a significant change in the balance of political power in favour of disadvantaged groups, which took a concrete expression in 1977 when the Left Front coalition came to office at the state level. This change in the balance of power has made it possible to implement a number of far-reaching social programmes that are often considered ‘politically infeasible’ in many other states, notably including land reform and the revitalization of democratic institutions at the village level. Public policies concerned with health education and related matters have also been neglected, and correspondingly, the improvement of living conditions in West Bengal in recent years has remained relatively slow.
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