December 6 : "Since the consumption of tobacco is not desirable,
cultivation of tobacco is no longer promoted. But because cash crops form an
important component of farmers' income, crops like indigo, tobacco and sugarcane
much influence the nature of agrarian economy." Chief Minister Shri Jitan Ram Manjhi said
this while releasing a book Colonising
Plants in Bihar (1760-1950) - Tobacco Betwixt Indigo and Sugarcane at ADRI
here on Saturday. The book is authored by Dr. Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff, a
renowned scholar in Social Anthropology and History, and has been associated
with ADRI for a long time.
about the book, Mr. Manjhi said that generally, 'social history' comprises how
men interact with other men to create social movements. But here the author has
shown how men interact with nature to create social history. In the book, the
part of nature that the author specifically focuses is ‘cultivation of tobacco'.
the author's book to be an important contribution to the social history of
Bihar, the Chief Minister said: "the research study also shows how the colonial
administration tried to influence India's agriculture. The cultivation of
tobacco was introduced and promoted by the British, for purely colonial
interest. But it had some positive effects for Bihar's economy - it had led to
agricultural research in India, and the establishment of the Agricultural
Research Institute in Pusa."
Shaibal Gupta, member-secretary of ADRI, welcomed the guests on the occasion.
In his address, Dr. Gupta said: "we all know how Bihar was put on the world map
because of Gandhi's Satyagraha against indigo cultivation in Champaran. Yet,
this socio-cultural and political-economic history of tobacco trade,
cultivation and consumption in the adjusting region of Darbhanga not only
changes this story somewhat but also explains the replacement of indigo by
sugarcane in Champaran."
Gopa Sabharwal, Vice-chancellor of Nalanda University, presided over the
function. Dr. Sabharwal in her remarks said: "this unique study contributes to
three important research fields: the history of commodities, the history of the
colonial development state, and the agrarian history of South Asia. First, by
taking tobacco, indigo and sugarcane as case studies, the author demonstrates
the dynamism of cash-crop production systems and how these systems influenced
each other. In a historical process described by the scholar, indigo became to
be seen as an alien plant linked to exploitation whereas tobacco with its
origin in South America became linked to Bihari identity in the form of chewing
tobaccos. Second, the book explores how colonial state policy came to stimulate
research-based agronomic interventions, often with unintended consequences. And
finally, the book shows how cash cropping entangled Bihari peasants in
particular Koiris and Bhumihars as well as Indian nationalists
and Europeans in particular so-called indigo planters, scientists and colonial
administrators in new forms of struggle and cooperation. This meticulous and
illuminating study deserves a wide readership."
Director PP Ghosh gave the vote of thanks on the occasion.