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Debt bondage, seasonal migration and alternatives issues : lessons from Tamil Nadu (India)

Abstract : Debt bondage in India is often associated with seasonal migration and extreme poverty. If migration is considered as an integral part of the survival strategies of the poor, the impact of migration on relations of exploitation is still very much debated. Various studies undertaken during the 1990s showed that this debt bondage system, at least in its traditional form, gradually fell into disuse because capitalist farming, in actuality, necessitates the mobility of “free labour” that is not bound to landlords. It has also, conversely, contributed to the reinforcement of debt bondage through a system of advance controlled by the labour broker or jobber (maistries). In this paper we investigate the link between debt bondage and seasonal migration with a view of determining whether the former is positively correlated or not to the latter. A particular attention has been devoted to landless migrants such as cane cutters who are recruited through jobbers. The study is based on three fieldworks conducted in February 2004, August 2007 and February 2008 in ThondiReddi Palayam, a hamlet of scheduled casts located some 15 km from Villipuram in Tamil Nadu (South India).
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Kamala Marius-Gnanou. Debt bondage, seasonal migration and alternatives issues : lessons from Tamil Nadu (India). Autrepart - Revue de sciences sociales au Sud, Presses de Sciences Po (PFNSP), 2008, pp.127-142. ⟨10.3917/autr.046.0127⟩. ⟨halshs-00345113⟩

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