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

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Cattle, Milk and Women’s Labour

The Politics of Contemporary Dairying in Gujarat

A study on market-driven agriculture in the dry lands in Gujarat, especially households which embarked on dairying through the acquisition of loan-buffaloes, reveals that dairying is shot through with the politics of economic value involving dairies and milk producers. Commercial milk-production is interrupted by economic value encountering other values and affective relations of milk producers. The paper identifies limits to capitalist expansion located in people’s affective capacities and lifeworlds that emphasise becomings other than as “market producers,” in the state regarded as the most “entrepreneurial” in the country.

Linking poor rural households to markets as a way to augment incomes has emerged as a major development strategy of the Indian state after liberalisation, particularly after the restructuring of agriculture since the late 1990s. In the rain-fed dry lands at the rural margins of India, small-scale cultivators have been linked to the markets of high-value commodities through programmes such as watershed development. This has involved incentivising households to adopt the cultivation of high-value cash crops such as flowers, fruits, dairy and organic produce. In this paper, I discuss household- and individual-level responses to commercial agriculture, and the intimacy between the rural households who embark on commodity production and the capital they acquire to undertake market-driven production. Through ethnographic fieldwork, I draw upon the Indian state’s expansion of dairying in the dry-land districts of Gujarat, widely celebrated as India’s most pro-market state. Dairying has emerged as a leading market-driven economic activity in dry-land India, spurred by the fact that most households in the dry lands own livestock (GoI 2006). This paper seeks to capture how households that acquired bovine capital for dairying responded to both, bovine capital and dairying.

Interpellation of Labour and Capital

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Updated On : 1st Jun, 2021
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