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

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Struggles for Adivasi Livelihoods

Reclaiming the Foundational Value of Work

A fundamental principle of livelihood is that work has a foundational value. It is opposed to the labour-commodity process where the foundational value of work is thoroughly undermined and where work is disembedded from society and taken out of it. In adivasi livelihoods, work is foundational and only through work does a person know what his or her potentialities are. The current adivasi struggles are at bottom attempts to reclaim this foundational value of work and all that it entails.

An earlier version of this article was presented at the national seminar on “Violence and the Adivasi Struggle for Livelihood” organised and held at Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi on 18-19 February 2011. This version included comments and suggestions from participants.

Several adivasi struggles, across the length and breadth of India, are today opposing regimes emerging from a combination of the forces of the State, the market, and corporate organisations. They are resisting the repression and the violence unleashed by these ­regimes, which destroys adivasi livelihood systems and pushes adivasis towards seeking employment in these regimes. Adivasi struggles are aware that the “reserve army of labour” created by this destruction has not been gainfully employed by these regimes – only a few get employment and the large majority alter­nates between providing cheap labour and unemployment.

The structure, content and direction of adivasi struggles are likely to be deter­mined by how this situation is studied and questions concerning livelihood are formulated.

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