The Imagined Future and Ontological Fear

By: Shibsankar Jena  

The present discourse on food security in India in the state’s development policies, programmes and schemes was traditionally absence in the rural agrarian life due to the predominance of food crop cultivation for maintaining the institutional practices of jajmani system, the village structure of collective responsibilities through the practice of moral economy and the strong presence of food sovereignty among the rural farming households. The major transformation that took place in the sphere of Indian agrarian societal values, shifting of farming attitude from food cop to cash crop cultivation and the collective responsibilities of rural food security has been disrupted and destroyed under the colonial domination of British rule. Further, the introduction green revolution in the decade of mid-sixties under the state policy of five year planning in post-colonial Indian has been created a long academic debate on the transforming agrarian mode of production, the emergent of rural class structure and the development of the agrarian ethics of individualism. This transformative character of Indian agrarian institution has also become more strengthen under the influence of neo-liberal political economy through the structural re-adjustment programme by the Indian state in the decade of nineties. The various academic debate on the rural agrarian transition on the both structural and cultural transformation of agrarian social system has also brings attention towards the growing rural proletarisation and household food insecurity. This situation of agrarian crisis of rural India in contemporary time has created a sense of ontological insecurity among the rural India’s small and marginal farmers and produces the high anxiety of ontological fear for their future the rapid rate of depeasantisation process is going on due to loss fertility of agricultural land, the rapid climate change, the loss of economic and cultural confidence to integrate themselves as global competitor in the field of farm production and the growing household debt. This process of depeasantisation among rural small and marginal families makes a ontological insecurity to maintain the household food security and also losing their psycho-social confidence to break vicious cycle of poverty. On this base background, the paper is currently working on the relationship between the depeasantisation, food insecurity and the future imagination of ontological fear among the depeasantised households of Madhya Pradesh district of India. Taking fifty depeasantised households whose major source of family livelihood was agriculture in past as sample for case study, this study tries to explore the various factors of depeasantisation, the alternative occupation, current status household food security and their past memory for the future imagination of both agrarian changes and crisis in relation to the household food security. The study follows multi-techniques such as structure questionnaire in relation to caste, land holding patterns, family income in past and present and the nutritional pattern of food consumption. The unstructured interview also conducts for the collection of opinion, views about past and future imagination of household’s socio-economic life of depeasentised farmers.

Colonialism, Agrarian Institution
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Shibsankar Jena

currently working as Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Work, Dr. Harisingh Gour Central University, M.P (India). His research area is Agriculture, Tradition and Post-colonial Development in India. Email: