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Most Dalit Farmers are Still Landless(Photo courtesy: Ananth BS, Wikimedia Commons)

Dalit farmers in India continue to work for wages, Census of India has found out. A look into the states where this pattern is broken reveals that tribal societies have more equitable land distribution than feudal societies.

For example, the census found that in states like Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, and Jharkhand, Dalit farmers are less likely to work for wages while in states like Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, with a history of feudalism, almost all Dalit farmers are agriculture labourers. The figures go as high as 90% in most districts.

According to the Hindustan Times analysis, the following are true about Indian states’ land distribution.

In Rajasthan, 28 out of 33 districts, a majority of Dalit farmers are cultivators and not labourers.

In Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir, Dalit farmers are not likely to work as labourers.

In the North-East of India, in the tribal states, many Dalit farmers are cultivators and not labourers.

Kerala tops the list in skewed land distribution. 84% of Dalit farmers are wage labourers in the 14 districts the state has. In district Palakkad, also knows as the granary of Kerala owing to its large number of rice fields, more than 97% of Dalit farmers work as wage labourers.

These figures become important when benefits to farmers are considered. When the government comes up with a scheme of concession etc. to support farmers, it usually goes to the land owners and not the agricultural labourers. That is, measures to help farmers do not reach most of the Dalit farmers because they don’t own land.

India is an agrarian country where more than 60% of the population depend directly or indirectly on agriculture.

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