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Understanding Development in Post-Independent Andhra Pradesh

The economic development and the changes in agricultural production that came mainly from the dominant castes after Independence in Andhra Pradesh can be seen as a continuation of what had been earlier. The emergence of larger competitive set of social elites after the abolition of Zamindari estates in 1949 was handled through patronage politics based on the distribution of offices and other resources, such as development funds, between rival factions and regions. These policies enabled the larger landowners and middlemen among the dominant castes to preserve their overarching power until 1980s. As observed by
G. Ram Reddy, the economic development in Andhra Pradesh until 1980s, the result of the political process in the 1960s and 1970s, largely consisted of swings between accommodative and confrontational politics that reflected factional divisions inside the Congress Party. In addition to this, the land reforms and green revolution also largely influenced the existing pattern of agricultural growth in Andhra Pradesh.

The introduction of land reforms did not bring any drastic changes in landowning pattern. As noted by Carol Upadhya, during 1955-71 in the Andhra region, the land under marginal small and semi-medium farmers decreased while the number of medium and large farmers increased. This was because of eviction of tenants from the land. The second phase of land reforms in the state during the 1970s underwent as a part of the political process, influenced by personality and politics of Mrs. Gandhi. She initiated and succeeded to a substantial extent in weakening the hold of rich peasantry, who posed a potential threat to the consolidation of power at her hands. The land ceilings legislation of 1970s and a number of anti- poverty policies were launched as a part of the political strategy to reduce Congress reliance on rich peasantry and to increase its support among more sizable classes, like small and marginal farmers.

The land reforms did not give land to the landless, though at least deprived the big landlords to a large extent of their village power. The newly emerged middle and rich peasants of upper castes began to dominate social, economic and political spheres of the village. “The middle castes such as Kamma, Kapu and Reddy have been adept in utililsing the new opportunities, such as, co-operative credit societies, subsidised inputs like water, power, fertiliser and institutional credit which helped the consolidation of these class”.

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