Condition of Labourers in Malwa

Malwa is the prime agricultural belt of Punjab. In this region, agriculture is the principal source of livelihood. The role of the secondary and tertiary sector is minimal in providing alternative employment. The influx of migrant labour is also quite substantial in this region. It grew phenomenally during the 1980s and 1990s and has begun to cause unemployment among local agricultural labourers. 

The impact of mechanization, particularly the role of combine harvesters in paddy and wheat harvesting, also leads to unemployment among local agriculture labourers. This region is different from the Majha and Doaba region. The phenomenon of Siri and attached labour is still strongly embedded in the agrarian structure of this region. Migrant labourers are gradually replacing locals as attached labourers.

Both the Siri and attached labourers are deeply indebted and find it difficult to extricate themselves from the debt trap. Indebtedness and impoverishment lead to a high incidence of suicides both among farmers, as well as agricultural labourers. The number of days of employment of a casual agricultural labour is limited to 70 days in Sangrur district and 152 days in Faridkot district. 

In the absence of alternative sources of employment, labourers become severely dependent on local landowners and moneylenders to meet their survival needs.

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