ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Abdur RafiqueSubscribe to Abdur Rafique

Begging in Rural India and Bangladesh

This paper makes a case for seeing poor people's experiences of begging as a living strategy propelled by poverty, economic insecurity, ill-health and ageing. Using in-depth interviews with men and women from eastern India and northern Bangladesh, it stresses the narrative accounts of the migrants, their tales of travelling to various destinations and the significance of the remittances they earned. Through these accounts, the aim is to show the resourcefulness and agency required to engage in begging. Begging may be necessary to better respond to food and cash hardships in poor landless households in rural settings. It is neither a deliberate act of avoiding work nor an institutional tradition.

State of Primary Education in West Bengal

Successive efforts initiated by the Left Front government have played a positive role in the expansion of primary education in West Bengal. However, as the findings of this study establish, certain problems still prevail. Poor attendance, perceived class differences, poverty and gender discrimination prevent socially underprivileged groups from accessing education opportunities. On the other hand, the success of the government's experiment in providing cost-effective primary education, particularly to the most underprivileged sections of society must be recognised.

Floods, Poverty and Seasonal Migration

The monsoon floods that struck several districts of West Bengal in 2000 though expected were devastating in the damage it wreaked. The impact however differed among classes - while the well off had substantial paddy stores to recoup in the post-flood desolation, the smaller cultivators had no option but to secure loans on credit. Landless labourers were, however, compelled to migrate in search of work. Most of this outmigration was sequential in nature and their large numbers also placed them at the mercy of employers.

Seasonal Migration, Social Change and Migrants' Rights

People who migrate temporarily for manual work are not usually unionised and are often unprotected by effective legislation against travel and workplace risks. All this is true of West Bengal, where migrant workers employed in rice cultivation have made crucial contributions to the agricultural successes of the last two decades. West Bengal's gangs of mobile rice workers are recruited directly by individual employers at busy labour market places or in migrants' home villages. This paper summarises the findings of recent empirical research on the scale and pattern of seasonal migration for rice work in West Bengal. It analyses the causes and consequences of the migration, including its relation to ongoing social change in four source areas.
Back to Top