Bondage lessons

Added: Shamaine Aasen - Date: 15.08.2021 01:29 - Views: 12413 - Clicks: 5812

It is now recognized that migration is an integral part of the survival strategies of the poor. While this point has won unanimous support, the impact of migration on relations of exploitation is still very much debated. The literature witnesses endless debates on the « voluntary » character or not, of this type of work relation.

In our study the relationship between employers and cane cutters is indirect because the latter are recruited through jobbers maistries , which avoids the risk of recruitment and reduces the cost of transportation and the search for a job. In this paper we investigate the link between debt bondage and seasonal migration, with particular attention to landless migrants such as cane cutters.

Our objective is to determine whether debt bondage is positively correlated or not to seasonal migration. Migrant workers, who cannot find sufficient work to sustain themselves throughout the year in their own regions, migrate to harvest the cane over eight months or so of the year. In , the domestic sugar consumption was estimated to 20 million tonnes. In spite of a better regulatory environment since , sugar is still highly regulated at the central and state levels.

The industrial production of sugar cane first started in the 70s with the green revolution under the impulse of sugar mills of the public sector organised as state cooperatives. However, the numerous dysfunctions of the public sugar mills corruption, bad management, over production… regularly provoked interruptions in activity, which did not encourage the producers to long-term conversion because of a lack of prospects.

The private sector then decided to resort to a migrant work force, the simplest way being to contact middlemen in zones traditionally productive. In , most of the villagers were seasonal migrants. They leave the village for nearly seven months to States of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Out of nearly inhabitants, three-fourths of them were seasonal migrants. The remainder consists of old people, landlords, and people mostly women who used to own livestock and stay in the village.

Labourers migrate for sugarcane harvesting with the entire family : husband, wife and children. This research involved informal interaction with maistries, migrants, landowners and mill officers. Secondly, we describe our case study of debt bondage and seasonal migration in sugarcane industry with fieldwork evidence.

Thirdly, we provide some alternative issues before concluding. By definition, a bonded labourer is one who cannot choose freely between alternate employers, and who cannot, in fact, work for any person other than his or her current employer. This system falls under a more global system of hierarchy and interdependence between castes, while reflecting the very strong concentration of land in the hands of the higher castes.

Jan Breman has extensively described this type of patron-client relation, and the reality that he describes in Gujarat seems quite similar to that described by the villagers of Tamil Nadu when they evoke the situation of their parents and grandparents. It should be noted that this is not really a question of employer-employee relation ; the payments received by the workers are not considered as a payment in return for their work, but rather entail in the responsibility of the « patron » [Breman, , p. Various studies undertaken during the s showed that this system, at least in its traditional form, gradually fell into disuse, in particular in the irrigated areas and those that were converted to cash crops [Jodhka, ].

For example, in Andhra Pradesh, the farmers had on average 25 permanent workers jeetam in , as compared with 10 in and 1 in [Da Corta, , p. The same evolution is observed in Tamil Nadu : between and , the of padiyal Tamil word deating bonded workers reduced considerably.

In the s and even the s, it was still customary for a farm of average size to have 3 or 4 padiyals [Marius-Gnanou, ]. The green revolution was accompanied by the phenomenon of « absentee landowners » and by the dislocation of large properties in particular those of the Reddiars, Nadis and Mudaliars and, finally, by the emergence of a more intensive and more capitalistic agriculture, generally managed by the middle castes Vanniar, Gounder [Marius-Gnanou, , p. The answer to this question depends on social norms, religious and cultural factors ; according to Rogaly et alii [] migrants from West Bengal are all men because it is their duty to feed the household.

In fact, migration is a question of job availability. Individuals migrate to the region where work is available and where they can earn enough money to improve their financial situation. A marked example of this is provided by seasonal workers who leave their villages, often accompanied by wives and children, to escape the agrarian cycle by working as cane-cutters or brickmakers » [Breman, , p. Although these forms of circular migration have probably always existed, it is obvious that they have widely developed in the last decades because of the transport and communication facilities, changes in the modes of agricultural production and because of the development of industrialisation.

No exact data exist making it possible to quantify the magnitude of seasonal migrations. NCRL puts the of circular migrants in rural areas alone at around 10 million in including roughly 4. According to NCRL, the majority of seasonal migrants are employed in cultivation and plantations, brick-kilns, quarries, construction sites and fish processing. In India, large s of seasonal migrants work in urban informal manufacturing, construction, services or transport sectors, employed as casual labourers, head-loaders, rickshaw pullers and hawkers [Deshingkar, Start, ].

Their findings show that several influential socio-economic and cultural factors motivate departure. Poverty is seen as the main factor causing labourers to leave the village. Poverty, explained as insufficient income, is associated with a lack of decent employment opportunities within the village and with low salaries. Several other factors also emerge to explain under-employment in rural Indian economies : the introduction of machines in the production process, whether in agriculture or traditional manufacturing [Mukherjee, ], and bad climate, with a lack of rainfall in Tamil Nadu [Marius-Gnanou, ], and numerous floods in West Bengal [Rogaly et alii , ; Rafique, ].

There is not enough work for everyone, and the result is that those who are unable to find a well-paid job move away from the village to earn a living in other rural regions. Other authors, on the other hand, underscore the fact that capitalist agriculture, just like industry, perpetuates certain forms of exploitation and creates new ones : the modern forms of exploitation would be the result no longer of the concentration of land but of the concentration of capital.

Contrary to some prejudices, debt bondage would thus not be a relation proper to feudal or pre-capitalist societies [Kapadia, , p. Breman considers that these new forms of bondage are the direct expression of new forms of accumulation [Breman, , p.

To view the relation of indebtedness as a simple advance — without taking into the multiple dependencies thus engendered and the derisory wages that result — would only be the reflection of neo-liberal interpretations blind to the mechanisms of exploitation and reproduction of inequalities [Da Corta, , p. For a long time, people used to migrate within short distances to harvest crops and dig irrigation canals before returning to their villages. Jobbers are ideally from the same caste of the same taluk and village ; they are, in most cases, villagers who are better-off, and were formerly workers or supervisors.

They control both the recruitment of their workers and their work in the plantations or in the factories. They have to complement it with a loan from a moneylender ; the workers are then charged for the high interest rate that they have to pay. During the season the debt often increases even further because the migrants borrow small sums from their gang boss.

The employers benefit above all from the enormous savings, both in terms of money and organisation, provided by the labour broker performing the functions of recruiter, foreman, and camp boss. In selecting jobbers, preference is given to those migrants who have already been involved in the plantations or factories for several years.

Only a trusted jobber who is able to make generous advances acquires a dependable labouring group [Mosse et alii , , p. The jobber slowly builds on his status. At the start of his career kijai maistry , he is allowed to recruit a limited of workers. If his work is satisfactory, he can bring along larger teams next time and become a mel maistry. A certain stratification exists within the jobber corps, and at the top, a small core can supply the largest teams, and are more trusted by the employer, compared to the smaller brokers who are dependent on the moneylender.

This contract system is usually highly segmented. In the detailed study of the seasonal circulation of unskilled workers in rural areas of Gujarat, [Breman, , p. Because of this recruitment system, labour migration established a long-term stable relationship between the place of work and the area of recruitment.

Jobbers and labourers admit that their employers are trying to bind them and they describe their work relation as a situation of kottadimai or bonded labour. The labour broker is a major instrument in the realisation of this type of exploitation. All the migrants are not recruited through mounpannam by jobbers, but can travel in groups or alone with experienced migrants and can exploit kinship connections.

The kin network is a ticket to the urban labour market and to finding a regular job under better conditions [Marius-Gnanou, ]. Without social networks, migrants are more vulnerable to intimidation or non-payment of wages, and are unable to get out of debt or overcome a crisis.

Almost all the land is held by the Reddiyars, with rice and sugar cane as the main crops. The organization of the village rests on a very strong division of labour. The Padiyal would receive 70 Rs. He had to be available 24 hours a day, to take care of the livestock and the irrigation and of course to work in the fields ; his wife was given the domestic work such as maintaining the garden and small livestock.

She would receive one rupee per day and a bag of paddy at each harvest ; the children would also take care of the livestock and some of them would receive up to 2 Rs. On the one hand, the new production techniques — mechanization, new forms of irrigation — no longer require a permanent labour force. First adopted by the large landowners in the beginning of s, the mechanization of agriculture has progressively extended to most of the production units, largely encouraged by various government incentives, especially the granting of tractors managed by the state cooperatives of the panchayats.

This process of mechanization had become the norm by the end of the s. On the other hand, the Paraiyars themselves, largely influenced by various movements demanding rights for Dalits, were numerous in refusing this system of dependence and now prefer looking elsewhere for a job, even if this means migrating. The new job opportunities and the attrition of the discriminations linked to untouchability has facilitated this process. The status of Padiyal servile labourer is now considered by many as a slave status adimai , a notion widely popularized by the Dalit movements.

This new independence is also expressed in terms of political adherence : the Paraiyars are now free to choose their own party and many emphasize this point to convince us of their autonomy. Today, the Reddiyar quarter is almost uninhabited. Most have maintained ties and return from time to time, but few of them live permanently in the village. Some have sold part of their land.

Many of them delegate the management of the cultivation, generally to a Vanyar or a Paraiyar. This high feminization and jeopardization of agricultural work only illustrates a general tendency observed throughout India [Harris-White, ; Kapadia, ; Marius-Gnanou, a].

Some migrate to construction sites, but the majority to the sugar cane sector that is well-known to them, with three principal destinations : southern Andhra Pradesh Chittoor, Anantapur and Cuddapah districts from April to June ; eastern Orissa Cuttack and Dhenkanal districts from December to May and occasionally to Southern Tamil Nadu Dindigul and Sivagangai districts from May to July map. This enterprise works in direct relation with the producers to whom it provides the inputs, the fertilizer and the labour for the harvest.

Bondage lessons

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