Skip to main content

"Bonded situation" among Gujarat's 50.4% of migrants in sugarcane fields; they're permanently in debt: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A German government-funded report has said that more than 50.4% of an approximate 1.25 lakh migrant labourers working in Gujarat’s prosperous sugarcane block of Bardoli, most of them tribals from Dhule and Nadurbar districts of Maharashtra and Dangs and Tapi districts of Gujarat, remain in a permanent state of debt, with their incomes going into “negative” as the harvesting season draws to a close.
Working from November to May each year, these migrant workers are trapped into a “bonded situation”, the report, titled “A Bitter Harvest: Seasonal Migrant Sugarcane Harvesting Workers of South Gujarat”, researched and published by the Prayas Centre for Labor Research and Action (PCLRA), and supported by Germany’s Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, says.
Prepared by an Institute of Social Studies, Surat ,scholar Prof Kiran Desai, and Prayas’ Sudhir Katiyar, the report says, a major reason why they are forced to in and around Bardoli is, “lack of employment and earning opportunities” in their home districts. While 75% of them are landless, 20% own less than 2 acres of land.
The report, covering around 7,300 sugarcane harvesters and 2,000 brokers in Bardoli area, says, for most of the migrant workers, it is “a zero sum game” because they take an advance from the brokers or mukadams, who take them in groups to the sugarcane fields. The advance is deducted from their wages, which they get at the end of the season. The interest they must pay for the advance they take comes to a whopping 50%.
According to the report, “The expansion of agricultural land under sugarcane and establishment of sugar mills on cooperative basis in south Gujarat region, especially in and around Bardoli, area has been a replica model of agro-industrial development adopted in neighbouring districts of Maharashtra”.
Like in Maharashtra, in Gujarat too, these mills are owned “mainly middle and large farmers belonging to dominant higher and intermediate castes”, who have “imposed or reaffirmed their political, social and economic hegemony and clout through the instrument of sugar cooperatives”, the report says.
The migrant workers from the backward tribal belts of Maharashtra and Gujarat are preferred, according to the report, because the “local halpatis agricultural labourers demand higher wages”, while “the migrant labourers provide a cheaper alternative”, one reason why the cooperative owners insist want mukadams to bring in migrants much before the harvesting season begins “to accomplish other agricultural works at a cheaper labour cost.”
According to the report, ideally, considering the amount paid to the migrant workers, the income of the couple – usually husband and wife – called kyota in local parlance, should have been in the range of Rs 20,001 to 30,000.
“But when wages are paid to the harvesters by the mukadams outstanding debt in the form of advance given (with 50 % interest) is subtracted”, the report says. “Add into that costs of cereals in the form of juvar and millet-bajri as well as of materials such astadpatri and plastic to erect makeshift habitat, which were given by the factories at the start of the season.”
Pointing out that all this is “also deducted” from advance, the report says, “Almost half of the workers had negative balance in terms of amount received, i.e., they are in indebted state even after four to five months of tireless labour. The rest 50% of the workers could earn positive net amount in the range of Rs 1,000 to 30,000 after subtracting outstanding advance and other amount.”
“Deciphering the data further it is revealed that around one-third of harvesters had earned in the range of Rs 10,000 and less, whereas the rest 15% could earn more than that and up to Rs 30000”, the report adds.
This amount they get, the report says quoting 50% of those interviewed, after they “toil for 12-14 hours and worse”, while “another 30 per cent even mentioned more than 14 hours of daily labour”, adding, “Often they have to go late night, at odd hours for loading harvested canes to lorries or carts. In terms of months the harvesting season lasts for four to six months.”

Comments

Pankti Jog said…
Very interesting and alarming....
Hasan said…
So is India!😊
Madhu Menon said…

It’s rampaging in the interiors of Bharuch and Narmada districts, the practice of Chakkar-Paniyari by Patels - not so rich but land owners - is prevalent there !

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.