Vellala - Economy



Most Vellala are engaged in agriculture full-time or as a side occupation. In areas of wet paddy cultivation, traditional techniques continue to be popular, both among small Peasants and among noncultivating landholders who lease out to tenants. However, use of high-yielding varieties of seeds and chemical fertilizers is quite widespread. Tenancy is less favored now, because of the difficulties of getting the land back from tenants, but the traditional norm of having men and women of Untouchable castes perform the major labor is still intact. Some mechanization has been introduced by large landowners who have stopped tenanting out and started Directly overseeing farming. Landholding Vellala had, in the past, an elaborate and complex patron-client relationship with subcastes who worked for them—both agricultural subcastes as well as artisan and service subcastes like priests, potters, barbers, etc. The relationship, in which economic and ritual dimensions are fused, approximates the jajmani Relations that have been documented for other regions in India. Elements of jajmani continue to the present day. In areas where the Vellala of the second category predominate, cash crops, peasant proprietorship, and commercial agriculture are more common and there is greater mechanization. Women from the first category do not work in the fields. In the Second, involvement with one's own family land is not unCommon, though working on another's field is considered undesirable and resorted to only in cases of extreme poverty. For various reasons, chief among which is the government's land reform policy, a sizable section of Vellala of the first category have taken to higher education and urban professional employment; however, they are less likely to enter entrepreneurial activities today than in the past.


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