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

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Social and Economic Aspects of Attached Labourers in Kuttanad Agriculture

Labourers in Kuttanad Agriculture Alex George The highly oppressive feudal characteristics of the system of attached labour prevailed in Kuttanad until 1943. These labourers mostly belonged to the pulaya and the paraya castes who became apparently free' after the abolition of slavery in 1855. The prevalence of this system even during the early period of capitalist investment in agriculture can be explained by several factors not least of which is the characteristic form of highly labour intensive cultivation in the region known as punja cultivation and the fact that pulayas and the parayas were alone engaged in the hardest and the dirtiest of tasks involved. So firm was the grip of this feudal system that the attached labourers were slow to unionise. However, it was the labour movement which contributed significantly to the transition from attached labour to free labour THE Thiruvithamkoor Karshaka Thozhilali Union (TKTU) the first agricultural labour union in Kuttanad and of Kerala was formed in 1941,1 under the initiative of the leaders and cadres of the organised working class of the coir industry of the nearby Alleppey town. But during the formative stage of TKTU the pulayas and parayas2 of Kuttanad who were under the feudal system of attached labour, kept aloof from its activities.3 This was due to the extreme grip of the feudal system of attached labour over them.4 This system of attached labour was made use of by the farmers of Kuttanad region who engaged in capitalist investment in paddy cultivation.5 Tendencies of capitalist investment in paddy cultivation in the region can be traced as far back as the latter half of 1880s.6 Since the condition of the pulayas and parayas as attached labourers, had its implication for their unionisation, we set apart a section each of this paper for the analysis of: (i) Transition from slavery to attached ' labour in Kuttanad; (ii) The feudal character of the attached " . labour system, and (iii) The prevalence of the attached labour system under capitalist investment in agriculture.


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