Landless Labourers

For this very heterogenous group, the implications of the Green Revolution vary according to the category of workers. The picture also differs from region to region. The general upswing in trade and business and the increased purchasing power in the countryHad a positive effect on the rural service occupations. There was an increased demand for their services, especially in the small towns. Since there was only a limited supply of these skilled workers, the village craftsmen broke off their old working relations with the farmers and exercised these professions in the towns for cash payment. The sep- jajmani relationship was partly maintained without observing the former obligation to be present in the village at all times. They worked in the village in the evenings and on holidays. The economic situation was considerably improved by combining the traditional employment relationship with gainful occupations in the rural towns. Some of them established small industries. It was not possible for all of them to use their technical knowledge- even if it was limited- in handicrafts and to achieve, thus, a higher Income. Technological development sometimes made specific handicrafts superfluous. In such cases, the people concerned had to look for employment in another occupation.

This change did not take place in favour of similar occupations. Instead, the available resources constituted the basis for a new occupation. Thus, the potters became unemployed because the pots and pitchers manufactured in the factories were cheaper and more attractive than their products. The donkeys they owned, which they had used to transport their goods, became the basis upon which they entered the rural transport business.

As far as the permanent agricultural labourers were concerned, they fairly often rose into higher qualified occupations. The long standing ties to a farm and the resulting close relationship and trust were the reason why these workers were entrusted with tasks related to the new agrarian technology, i.e., they were trained as pump attendants or tractor drivers. These occupations not only meant greater responsibility, but were also better paid.

The effect of the technological change on the rural casual labourers is of a complex nature. Firstly, their number not only increased because of the growing population, but also because tenants were evicted. The attempt of a few landowners to put a stop to their dependence on these workers during harvest time by purchasing combine harvesters constituted a grave danger for this group. Since the high piece wages paid for harvest work-as alsready described-guaranteed the existence of the casual labourers there was the danger that a large number of workers would sink into misery and squalor. But, recognizing the danger of this situation, the governments of the two countries promptly prohibited the importation of combine harvesters.

Quite a few of the casual labourers keep buffalo cows for milk production and find therein, just as the tenants, a basis for their existence. In Pakistan alone, more than one million households which do not cultivate land keep cows or buffaloes. Farmers experienced that supplying fodder was a greater incentive for work than the usual wages. Furthermore, the Green Revolution created more job opportunities for this group than was often assumed. The higher incomes opened up many prospects, especially in trade. Neither the income from, nor the productivity of many such activities is high, but since they are often combined with the earnings of other family members and the income from dairy cattle keeping, a certain improvement in the living standard can be ascertained. The result is an astonishingly high supply price for labour. Farmers no longer find workers at any wage. Moreover, this group has become more mobile and actively looks for work in other localities as well.

While the group as a whole endured the change quite well, the differentiation within the group itself became more pronounced. Not everyone was in a position to adjust to the changed circumstances. Only those who were economically better off could keep buffaloes. Only those who were still quite young and in good health were mobile enough to look for work in other localities too. It is particularly disadvantageous for the weaker that the landlords changed their feudal patriarchal work relationships for commercially orientated contacts and no longer felt obliged to be concerned about the weak as they did formerly. The living conditions of the weakest among the agricultural casual workers thus clearly deteriorated.

In other words, only a small percentage of the rural workers succeeded in improving their situation within the framework of the Green Revolution. The mass had no share in it. In spite of this, the living conditions often did not deteriorate in this case either, since the mass could adjust itself to the changed conditions. However, within the group, there are considerable differences due to age, activity, and family status. The living conditions of the weakest have worsened even more; for others, the gap between them and the wealthy has become wider; and the rest dropped only relatively in comparison to the other groups of poor people in the rural areas such as village craftsmen and small tradesmen.