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Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2007 > July 28, 2007 > Close Examination of Haryana’s Paradoxes

Mainstream, VOL XLV, No 32

Close Examination of Haryana’s Paradoxes

by Ranbir Singh and Chaitiali Pal

Sunday 29 July 2007


Haryana at Crossroads: Problems and Prospects by D. R. Chaudhry; National Book Trust, Delhi; 2007; pp. xi+149; Price Rs 60.

A north-western State of India, Haryana, located on the threshold of the Union Capital Territory of Delhi has got a paradoxical character. On the one hand, it has converted itself from a backward region of Punjab into one of the most developed States of the Indian Union after the attainment of Statehood by it on November 1, 1966, and on the other hand it has earned notoriety on account of its retrograde politics, presence of the anachronistic institutions like Khap Panchayats, persistence of low status of women and frequent instances of atrocities on the Dalits.

But despite the fact that Haryana merited serious attention of the social scientist, its study had remained, by and large, neglected. D.R. Chaudhry has made an earnest attempt to demystify this puzzle in the book being reviewed by us. As a matter of fact, he has the requisite background, knowledge and training for this purpose. His close association with political leaders like Devi Lal and Bansi Lal, his knowledge as a student of English literature and as a keen observer of the socio-political scene of Haryana, and his training in the Marxian approach because of his stint in the Leftist movement has enabled him to grapple with the complex problem of providing an anatomy of the society, culture, economy and politics of Haryana.

At the outset, Chaudhry has provided a brief historical background of the State. This has been followed by a precise discussion of the relevance in modern times. After this he has examined the nature of caste politics in Haryana and the character of agrarian crisis in the State. These have been followed by short write-ups on the issues of SEZs, negation of academics in the Universities of Haryana, the paralytic state of the Haryana Agricultural University, top-heavy administration in the State, politics of populism, Punjab-Haryana disputes, the issue of Haryana’s capital, falling status of women, the alarming crime graph, attitude towards Army life, the rise of the peasant power in the State, and an epilogue: challenges and prospects.

A perusal of the above chapters of the book has led us to infer that although D.R. Chaudhry has taken into account the role of economic factors, he considers the dissonance between the economic development and the cultural backwardness of Haryana as the root cause of all the malodies from which this seventeenth State of the Indian Union continues to suffer. And, he attributes it to historical reasons. There can be no disagreement with him on these two points. However, with due regard to this reputed intellectual of Haryana, we humbly submit that the problem is too complex to be understood by this mono- causal explanation. It needs a deeper probe and a multi-dimensional explanation.

A careful reading of this monograph shows that his write-up on ‘School Education in Haryana’ is a highly scholarly work based on painstaking research. Chaudhry has also given valuable references and notes in the end of this chapter. It would have been better if he had done the same in other chapters as well. But despite, this deliberate omission on his part for making the text more readable for the general reader, all other chapters are very interesting and highly instructive.

However, the reviewers have some reservations regarding his write-up on the issue of Haryana’s capital. Chaudhry has not tried to trace the roots of this problem. As a mater of fact, the problem was created by the mischievous terms of references given to the Punjab Boundary Commission by the Government of India in 1996 for demarcating the territories of Punjab and Haryana and for deciding the areas to be transferred from Punjab to Himachal Pradesh. The highly communally biased Census of 1961 as a basis for determining the linguistic composition of various tehsils had prompted the political leadership of Haryana to make a claim on Kharar tehsil which included Chandigarh despite the fact that it had a Punjabi speaking majority. Here, it is also pertinent to recall that the political elite of Haryana had neither demanded it in their submissions before the States Reorganisation Commission in 1953 nor in the memoranda submitted by them to the Parliamentary Committee on Punjabi Suba in 1965. It may also be recalled that a prominent leader of Haryana had declared that Kurukshetra shall be made capital of Haryana and another political leader had stated that Rohtak shall get this status.

Be that as it may, this small omission in no way undermines the value of this highly scholarly and timely publication. Its modest price will certainly unable all those interested in the study of Haryana and the general readers to purchase this book The author and the publisher, indeed deserve to be commended for this venture.

The reviewers are Faculty Members, Haryana Institute of Rural Development, Nilokheri (Karnal).

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