B R I E F A R T I C L E S — I I I C. N. VENUGOPAL* A N A L Y S I S ...
B R I E F A R T I C L E S — I I I
C. N. VENUGOPAL*
A N A L Y S I S O F A W E E K L Y
M A R K E T
LOCATION AND FREQUENCY
about two acres) sparsely covered with a few
trees. On Sunday mornings cartloads of goods
T H E W E E K L Y M A R K E T , analysed i n this from nearby villages draw up at the ground.
article, is located at Shanthigrama. This is Men and women, too, arrive with their bas-
a village with a population of about 4,000 kets of vegetables, fruits, etc. Those who enter
people. It is a hubli, that is, a revenue unit the market ground for selling, pay the octroi
in Hassan district of Mysore State. T h e and get receipts. Most of the goods (like
village has a group panchayat which governs cereals, pulses and vegetables) are brought
its affairs. It is provided with water supply, in from the surrounding rural areas for retail
electricity, schools, a hospital and a post sale. However, some other consumer articles
office. As the village is situated on the border like soap, spices, etc. are brought in from
of Bangalore-Mangalore Road (a state high-
Hassan Town, which is at a distance of
way) , it is well linked with other places. It eight miles.
is a local centre for the nearby villages for
various transactions.
D E S I G N
T h e weekly market of the village meets on
T h e market is divided into some small
every Sunday and is regulated by the village sections called hasaras. A hasara is a row of
panchayat which collects an octroi on the sellers arranged by custom and precedent.
wares intended for sale at the market. T h e Sellers may not violate the traditional
panchayat makes use of this tax to provide arrangement of hasaras. However, there is
the market with certain facilities, like, water no absolute exclusion of one hasara from
and shopping space.
another. Each hasara is usually a crescent-
shaped row. T h e different sections are
In K a n n a d a , the weekly market is called described below:
santhe and is in existence for centuries. In
Vegetables, fruits and coconuts are sold in
early times, it was mostly based on barter.
the first row. Lime, salt, locally grown
U n d e r this system, goods of equivalent value
spices, puffed rice (a delicacy), butter, etc.
were exchanged between buyers and sellers.
are sold in the second row. Agricultural
In modern times, the cash exchange has
implements, locks and barrels and other
assumed a great importance in the market.
metal wares are laid out for sale in the
In spite of economic and social changes the
third row. Grains, spices like clove and
market is still vital. It has a capacity to
black pepper (brought from Hassan
adapt itself to changed conditions.
T o w n ) , cloth, readymade clothes, plastic
T h e meeting ground of the market at
articles, etc., are sold in tents set up for the
Shanthigrama is a rectangular open-space (of
purpose in the fourth row. Jaggery, betel
*Mr. Venugopal is Research Officer, in the Labour Research Centre of the Tata
Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay.

336
G. N. V E N U G O P A L
leaves, fish, and chickens are sold in the role in an economic situation. Thus, the
fifth row. T h e meatshops are situated in buyer-seller relationship is rather fluid.
the eastern wing while the western wing is
It may be noted that one does not see
used by tinkers, cobblers and others.
rigid caste distinctions in the market. How-
ever, there are some exceptions. For instance,
T h e sellers squat in the hasaras behind the Jains sell puffed rice, weaverfolk cloth,
their goods. Vegetables are displayed in big and shetties (the merchant-castemen) spices.
rattan baskets or on a small mat. Lime and
salt are displayed in opened up gunny bags.
SEASONAL VARIATIONS
T h e metallic articles are laid out in iron
A number of people from nearby villages
trays, or on the bare ground. Cloth, grains, participate in business. The number may
spices, etc., are spread out in the tents usually range between 1,000 and 1,500. Since parti-
on a wooden platform or a mat.
cipation is neither regular nor uniform, it is
difficult to arrive at a precise number. During
Between each hasura there is a small p a t h the sowing season in early monsoon, many are
for people to move about. They may also engaged in their routine work and therefore,
cross from one row over to another by fewer people attend the market. Again, in
wedging between the sellers.
the harvest season at the end of winter,
fewer numbers attend it. It is in summer
INTERACTIONAL R E L A T I O N S H I P
that the attendance is at its peak. For,
summer is the season of comparative leisure
In the weekly market, the sellers and buy-
for most of the villagers. In summer, the
ers are not professional men in a rigid sense. fairs and festivities come thick and fast. If
They are often peasants who sell or buy the market day precedes a festival, people
things when they can. Vegetables and fruits rush to buy articles needed for the occasion.
are usually grown in the backyards of their When the business is intense the prices may
houses or on small plots. Whenever there is also go up.
an abundance of growth the farmers like to
sell it. Likewise, animal products are sold by
T h e seasons have a bearing on prices also.
peasants who are primarily engaged in For instance, following the monsoon, many
agriculture. It is difficult to estimate people grow vegetables like cabbage, radish,
quantitatively the number of such persons, string beans, tomato, cucumber, green
because the sellers are not regular in attending chillies, and other vegetables. These
the market. However, at the core of the are sold at relatively low rates, due to an
market, there are a few professional men abundant supply. To illustrate: a kilogram
dealing in cloth, pulses and cereals.
of cabbage costs 60 to 70 paise. A kilogram
of string beans costs 40 to 50 paise. Soon
A professional seller makes an investment after the harvest, the cereals are sold at low
and seeks a gain through sale. On the rates again for the same reason. In contrast
contrary, the peasants usually do not invest with this, in summer the vegetables and
any money on growing their vegetables; they cereals go up in price for two reasons :
sell only to supplement their income.
(a) a reduced supply and (b) the rush for
buying on account of festivities. To illustrate,
Likewise, the buyers are a flexible category. a ripe coconut costs about 75 paise. T h e
Some of them may turn into sellers them-
price of vegetables increases by 2 5 % to
selves. It is a system of playing each other's 5 0 % over the previous rates.

A N A L Y S I S OF A W E E K L Y M A R K E T
337
CURVE O F B U S I N E S S
broken. It is a volatile ground for social
meeting. Indeed, people do not come merely
In the mornings the business is rather dull. for immediate commerce. Often a big deal
If there is sunshine, the sellers squat in a like bringing about a marriage may be made.
relaxed mood behind the articles. Some of A local leader may enlist support for a cause
them chew or smoke tobacco and gossip. at the market, where people are easily
Some others eat their snacks. As the hours accessible. Thus, it is a means of social
move u p , the business becomes brisk. We communication, for friends and foes alike.
may see people tumbling into one another.
We may see the quick movement of hands,
C O N C L U S I O N
the shuffling feet, and hear many voices
Although the m a r k e t meets once in a
rolled into an indistinct volume of noise. week, it provides considerable services to
As the evening approaches, business the rural people through its facilities for an
is slackened. For, evening is the closing time. exchange of goods. Beyond this, it also
T h e buyers like to return home before it is serves as a means of social communication.
dark. T h e prices come down a bit, for sellers Thus, it brings out the essential relationship
would not like to carry back their unsold between commerce and social interactions in
wares. At dusk, most of the participants walk a rural community. Relatively speaking, it is
homeward, leaving behind them a littered not a stable ground for either commercial
ground—a visible evidence of day's commerce. or social relationships. This is in contrast with
the usual stability of transactions (economic
A PLACE FOR SOCIAL CONTACTS
or social) in primary groups in the rural
T h e weekly market is a place where con-
areas. Indeed, its relative instability empha-
flict and reconciliation take place. New sizes its dynamism—the ability to move with
friendships are made and the old ones are the times.