Peasants and Relief Labour

  • David Hall-Matthews


Having examined the way in which two factors of production — land and capital — as well as markets put Ahmednagar peasants at a natural disadvantage by their low quality and unavailability, it now remains to focus on labour. Social relations of labour have already been discussed in the context of markets and credit. Relatively few ryots in the district were in a position to employ wage labourers. Rather, family members and peasants themselves often sought seasonal employment of their own to supplement their meagre incomes. Bullocks could also provide some labour power. Thus, this chapter will look at the peasant population itself. While it would be useful to examine the health and well-being of male and female household labour as a factor of production throughout the period, colonial data provides little information on peasant working patterns or labour conditions. The Annual Ahmednagar Administration Reports only recorded the scarcity of local industry, prevailing market rates for labour, and crudely collected population figures, which are examined at the end of this chapter.


Local Officer Relief Effort Distance Test Relief Work Road Work 
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    Major-General M. K. Kennedy, Secretary, GOB, ‘Notes on the General Policy of the Government and on the Progress of the Measures Adopted to Relieve the Distress Caused by the Famine in the Deccan and Southern Maratha Country’, 18 December 1876; MSA, GOB, General Department, Famine Volume, 1878; Digby, The Famine, Vol. I, pp. 296–314, who criticised this dispute as ‘a game at cross purposes in high quarters’.Google Scholar
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© David Hall-Matthews 2005

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  • David Hall-Matthews

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