Social Aspects of Backwardness in Developed Countries

  • S. Groenman
Part of the International Economic Association Conference Volumes, Numbers 1–50 book series (IEA)


In his foreword to Kusum Nair’s Blossoms in the Dust 2 Gunnar Myrdal describes the human factor in development as of paramount importance: ‘People’sattitudes to work and life, hardened by stagnation, isolation and poverty, and underpinned by tradition and often by religion, are frequently found to be inimical to change of any kind.’ In addition to this general statement may I make a few carefully chosen quotations from Blossoms in the Dust? Writing about the Madras farmers the author tells us that ‘five acres on lease is the limit of their aspiration. … Their demands are calculated solely on the basis of the family’sconsumption requirements of rice at two meals a day …’ (p. 31). About Kerala she remarks that ‘an average Malayalee … would prefer the security of a small job than take any risk whatever’ (p. 40). Caste also is a drawback to development.’ Not one of these Brahmin farmers [in Bihar] ploughs, or is permitted by caste custom to plough and work on the land’ (p. 90). In West Bengal ‘many communities among the peasants consider it below their dignity to take their farm produce to the market for sale’ (p. 141). And one more quotation:’ [a landlord’s] reaction to land reforms — proposed imposition of a ceiling on land holdings and the fixing of a minimum wage for agricultural labour — is perfectly logical and natural. He feels that they will affect the landlords adversely.


Social Aspect Social Mobility Social Hierarchy Underdeveloped Country Power Elite 
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Copyright information

© International Economic Association 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Groenman
    • 1
  1. 1.Sociologisch Instituut van de RijksuniversiteitUtrechtThe Netherlands

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