The Caste of Labourers-Farmers in Rural India


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SECC – 2011 data of rural areas suggest that more rural population has been reduced to labourers. Most of the farmers are small and marginal farmers, they work as laourer also in off-season.

The incidence of landlessness is the highest among the Dalits or scheduled castes. 67.27 per cent of rural Dalit families also report Manual Casual Labour as their primary income source, as against 51.14 per cent for all households.

Let’s dive into some calculations –

SECC – 2011 data says that 56.25% of rural households own no agricultural land.

Rural population = 70 per cent of 120 crore

Total rural population = 84 crore

Total landless in rural area = 84*56.25 per cent = 47 crore

Dalit population in rural area = 80 per cent of total population (20 crore = 120 *17 per cent)

Dalit labourers = 80*20 = 16 crore

Now, non-Dalit labourers = 47 – 16 cr = 41 crore

Now, what is the caste of these people?

They can be tribals, OBCs, and upper caste

Tribals population = 8.5 percent of total population

Tribal population in rural area – 120*8.5 per cent = 10 crore

I have assumed all tribals in living in rural area.

Total landless population in rural area except SC/ST = 47 – 10 crore = 37 crore

One assume very safely that most of castes of shifted to cities except small population of thakurs and landed elite

Even if assume there population 5 crore (it is an overestimation in my opinion)

OBC landless = 37 – 5 crore = 32 crore

One can just imagine this reason of adi-farmer drive and some OBCs claim that they are farmers though more than 60 per cent are landless.

All this exercise has been done to expose this farce of dominance of rich farmers. I do not say that there is not farmer problem but it is wider rural development problem. If we hinge on blind support for these farmers you end up strengthening feudal forces. We must make a very informed debate rather than parading around with jingoism.

This data exposes that landlessness has been a major issue in OBCs than in SC-ST. Though, government does not release landowning data as it will expose the power of dominant sections.

This landlessness among all section will increase in future drastically. But tribals are losing their land faster than any section in India. Tribals constitute more than 40-50 per cent of development displaced people. Scheduled castes make around 25 percent.

Some may have genuinely not understood the issue of farmers but most of them are driven by their narrow agenda.

Author – Loknath Kumar

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