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Markets and intermediaries : an enquiry about the principles of market economy in the grain market of Delhi

Abstract : If it is so, then the interaction of anthropology and economics may come for once to be more than an exchange of exotic facts for parochial concepts and develop into a reciprocally seditious endeavour useful to both. CLIFFORD GEF.RTZ Situated at the western edge of the Walled City, Naya Bazaar offers an impressive sight. Here, concentrated in a very small section of the old city, is not only the heart of the grain market ofDe1hi, but one of the most important grain markets for the whole of Harth India. According ta market people, only 20 per cent of the grain which is negotiated here would be consumed in Delhi itself. It is also the main centre for grain export outside India. Naya Bazaar must be one of the most congested areas of Delhi bath during the day and at night. With the exception ofSundays and a few moments of relative quietude at dawn and dusk, there is no respite in this place which functions not only as a commercial centre but also as home ta hundreds of coolies who work here during the day.' The traders themselves, who once used to live above their shops, have slowly moved away to quieter places of residence outside the walled city. Along the main road and in a few adjacent streets, one finds during the day a constant flux ofcoolies, dalals (intermediaries), employees and traders, jostling together in the most indescribable chaos, made worse by the astonishing variety of vehicles. But, what really gives the place its identity and dominates the urban landscape is the mass of large jute bags full of grain, which seem to fill every possible vacant space in the area. However, the perpetuaI train ofvehicles, advancing slowly in the desperate attempt ta load or unload their sacks of grain in shops where bags never seem to cease accumulating is a rather deceptive sight: the bags which arrive at Naya Bazaar constitute only a fragment of the grain trade. This is just the semi-wholesale market oriented towards the relatively small clientele of individual shopkeepers in Delhi and its neighbourhood. The main part of the trade
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Denis Vidal. Markets and intermediaries : an enquiry about the principles of market economy in the grain market of Delhi. Denis Vidal, Emma Tarlo, Véronique Dupont. Delhi : urban space and human destinies, Manohar, pp.125-139, 2000. ⟨ird-01292534⟩



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