6.1.2 Establishment of the "Progressive Farmers"' Stratum

Until recently, the rural society consisted of a number of strata which have remained relatively constant in their characteristics and relations over time: landlords, family farmers, tenants, and agricultural labourers in most cases. As an outcome of the 'Green Revolution,' a new stratum which is distinct from all the existing ones has emerged. This stratum consists of 'progressive farmers': young educated farmers (or farmers' sons) who have a new attitude towards land and farming. They have discovered that engaging in agriculture on a more scientific basis can be an income-creating activity which is equal to or better than the current alternatives.

They engage in farming in a modern way, using the available modern technologies, and try to cultivate productively and with high yields. Thus, they are rather successful under the economic aspect. They achieve a high level of output and income and introduce into the rural areas an amount of affluence which was unknown until now. Even landlords usually had a life style which did not differ much from the villagers', but they accumulated their wealth. It is typical that they are referred to as 'owning so much land' and not as 'being rich.'

The emergence of the new stratum of progressive farmers had consequences at the local as well as at the national level. At the local level, they changed the traditional labour relations. First, they dismissed some of the labourers to increase labour productivity. Then, in their business-like attitude, there was no place for the traditional mutual work relations with their labourers, to whatever low degree these relations might have existed with their fathers. In former times, this involved, for the labourers, the obligation to work and to be loyal whereas the landlords were responsible for paying the wages due and for looking after their labourers in need and represent them against outsiders. This tradition was taken rather seriously by the landlords and was the basis of leadership recognition, on the one side, and a security for minimal existence, on the other side. The progressive farmers put an end to this and replaced it by contractual relations involving work for wages. Both at the regional and national levels, the economic power of this new stratum soon led to political power. Progressive farmers are members of district councils, of the provincial assemble and even of the national parliament and agitate for a policy in their favour and not necessarily in favour of agriculture as a whole. For instance, this is the main reason why, hardly any share of the higher income achieved as a result of the 'Green Revolution' - which, to quite an extent, was due to public investments - was ploughed back to the public in the form of taxes. It is rather difficult to take political measures against this stratum since the progressive farmers achieved just that which the government had asked them to do: increase food production by applying the available modern technologies and invest in order to raise the productivity. They had been rather successful in doing this, even beyond that which is tolerable from a general standpoint. This stratum introduced early capitalistic behaviour into the rural areas.