Rethinking Revolutions: Soyabean, Choupals and the Changing Countryside in Central India

by Richa Kumar

Richa Kumar

New India Foundation


This book is an ethnographic study of the processes of agrarian change in
the Malwa region of central India, over the last forty years, beginning with
the introduction of soyabean cultivation in the 1970s, known as the yellow
revolution, and new information technology based markets in the 2000s,
called the choupals. Examining the claims of prosperity and empowerment of
farmers through the yellow revolution and the information revolution, this
book challenges the notion that science and technology can bring
unparalleled economic growth and prosperity to rural India. It argues that
both, techno-managerial ways of understanding and evaluating agriculture, as
well as those which emphasize the lenses of caste, class and gender, are
inadequate in capturing the diverse processes at work, in shaping the lives
of rural people. Highlighting the role of the environment and technology,
not in deterministic ways, but as non-human forces working upon and with
human agents, it suggests that both the social and the technical must be
considered together, to understand the specific trajectories of agrarian
change and the possibilities of rural transformation. Drawing upon science
and technology studies (STS), together with critical scholarship on the
political economy of development and agrarian change, this book shows how
people and things have reconfigured each other in producing the world they
live in, thus contributing towards new theoretical framings of agriculture
and rural transformation.

Author Profile

Richa Kumar

Richa Kumar is Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology,
Delhi with a joint appointment in the Department of Humanities and Social
Sciences and the School of Public Policy. Her research and teaching
interests are in the Sociology of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition, Science
and Technology Studies, and Rural and Agrarian Policy. Her current research
is on the impact of monoculture farming on farm systems, the environment and
human health. Her book, "Rethinking Revolutions: Soyabean, Choupals and the
Changing Countryside in Central India" was published by Oxford University
Press in 2016. She is a recipient of the New India Fellowship and is a
member of the Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies (NRAS). She completed
her Ph.D. from the Science, Technology and Society Program at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA. She can be reached at
richa at hss dot iitd dot ac dot in.