Dalits and Farmers’ Movement in India – Nirmal Singh

Spring 2022
The farmers and laborers were two primary stakeholders who comprised a majority of protesters at the most recent farmers movement on the borders of Delhi, the capital of India. While the farmers are mainly the land-owning upper caste communities known as Jats (Sikhs in Punjab and Hindus in other northern states), the laborers belong to generally landless lower castes (referred to as Dalits). The farmers’ movement saw overwhelming use of the slogan Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad (Long Live the Unity of Farmer and Laborer). Both groups provided strength to the farmers movement which eventually succeeded in repealing the three farm laws passed by the central government of India. However, the relationship between farmers and laborers has a dark side too. The interests of both groups are opposed to each other’s because Jats want to continue their domination over Dalits, including keeping them underpaid and as bonded laborers. The Dalits are gradually asserting themselves. They hope to become landowners by acquiring villages’ common land that are reserved for Dalit communities. In this essay, I reflect on this point of convergence and divergence in the interests of farmers and laborers and ponder its significance for the organization of agriculture in Punjab

Keywords: caste, agriculture, corporatization, Jat, Dalit

Dalits and Farmers’ Movement in India – Nirmal Singh
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Nirmal Singh
Department of Political Science, Doaba College, Jalandhar, Punjab, India

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