Are Official Statistics on Agrarian Change Reliable?

Dr. V. Anil Kumar

E-ARTICLE vailable from IDEAINDIA.COM at

In this e-article, we contrast the official secondary data with independently collected primary data regarding some key aspects of agrarian change in rural Andhra Pradesh, India. The main argument of the paper is that while the official statistics on certain aspects are reliable, on other aspects of agrarian change such as land holding structure can be misleading when taken prima facie. In order to get closer to the truth, we need disaggregated original primary surveys, which can portray a nuanced picture of agrarian change over time. This is particularly the case with the longitudinal data pertaining to land ownership.

Key words: agrarian change, census data, primary survey, irrigation, land inequality, Andhra Pradesh, India

This paper is a product of my Doctoral research at the University of Delhi and I thank my Supervisor Late Professor B.B.Sarkar for his patient guidance; and the ICSSR for supporting the research. I thank Mr.Swamy and Mr.R.Krishna who have helped me during the primary survey; Special thanks to Mr.C.S.C. Shekhar of the Agricultural Economics Research Centre, University of Delhi, for the help with statistical analysis. I am thankful to the anonymous referee for giving critical comments. All errors, however, are mine alone.

DR. V. ANIL KUMAR – Assistant Professor, Centre for Decentralisation and Development, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore, India (

Areaa of Specialisation:

Democratic Decentralisation and Rural Institutions

Agrarian Change and Rural Development

Public Policy and Policy Processes

Social and Political Theory

Academic Qualifications:

Ph.D.: University of Delhi (2004). Title of the thesis: Capitalist Development and Agrarian Politics in Andhra Pradesh, 1960-1990.

M. Phil.: University of Delhi (1991). Title of the thesis: Depeasantisation and Marxist Theory: With Reference to Some Case Studies From the Third World.

M.A. in Political Science, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (1988).


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