Pandit of Kashmir - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Traditionally, rural Pandits were primarily dependent upon agriculture, the land being cultivated by the owners themselves or by their Pandit or Muslim tenants. Paddy, wheat, and maize are the main crops. Fruits and vegetables also are grown. Small-scale trade, shopkeeping, and civil or domestic service are additional sources of income. The traditional professions are priesthood, teaching, and the practice of traditional Unani (Greco-Arab) medicine. Pandits have never looked favorably upon working with their hands. All the village artisans (e.g., potters, blacksmiths, weavers) have been and are Muslims. Similarly, all menial services are provided by Muslim occupational groups (e.g., barbers, washers, scavengers). Like upper-caste Hindus elsewhere, Pandits consider cows and bulls sacred animals and every family that can afford it will have them at home. Ponies or horses also may be owned. Occasionally birds (parrots, mynahs) are kept as pets. Domestic cats are tolerated. Dogs, ducks, and poultry—though present everywhere (they are associated with Muslims)—are considered polluting and are avoided.

Trade. The grocery store is the typical shop. Trade on a larger scale in timber, fruits, milk products, etc., is also practiced.

Division of Labor. Subcaste, socioeconomic class, gender, and age comprise the bases of division of labor. Priestly work is the exclusive responsibility of the subcaste of Gor. Landed aristocracy and families of noble lineage do not themselves work on the land. Domestic chores are clearly divided Between men (house repairs, grain storage, etc.) and women (cooking, washing, spinning, etc.). Children assist the elders.

Land Tenure. Land reforms enacted by the government in 1950 placed the ceiling on the ownership of agricultural land at 8.8 hectares. The rights of tenancy and the tenant's share in the produce are protected. Pandits employ fellow Pandits or more often Muslims as tenant farmers.


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