Lingayat - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The economy of a Lingayat village, which is predominantly agricultural, reflects the Lingayat culture. Their social structure is populistic, with birth and occupation intertwined. Lingayats are engaged in an entire range of occupational activities—agriculture, commerce and trade, teaching and scholarship, blacksmithing, carpentry, weaving, oil pressing, hairdressing, etc. Traditionally, Lingayat farmers produced partly for local consumption and partly for a market economy, and plowed their land with metal-shod wooden plows powered by pairs of bullocks. Much of economic life was regulated by the aya system, in which exchange of goods and services took place. The local artisan groups and labor depended upon the farmers for their survival. With independence in 1947 and the launching of five-year plans and community development projects, the traditional mode of cultivation is being gradually modernized by the use of chemicals, fertilizers, lift pumps, irrigation, etc. Rural life, once characterized by exchange relationships, is giving way to competitive interests revolving around the Economic realities of supply and demand. For example, the artisan community in the village has nearly closed its doors to local customers, as it now seeks new opportunities in the nearby city market in its traditional specialities. And the Village washerman's family also is involved in the city electric laundering establishment, the cobbler in its shoe stores, the blacksmith in tool-making jobs, and the goldsmith in the jewelry store. So traditional work is becoming modern work, and traditional skills are becoming modernized in the process. The village farmers, who once produced primarily for Domestic and local purposes, now prefer cash crops such as sugarcane, cotton, chilies, fruits, and vegetables for export. But such concerns do not seem to have eroded traditional values as indicated by the increasing number of cooperative societies in Lingayat villages. Urban Lingayats are found equally in all occupations and dominate small trade, commerce, and the textile industry in Karnataka.

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