Pastoralism in Rajasthan and Gujurat

Ilse ller-Rollefson, Paul Robbins, D.V. Rangnekar,Sangeeta Rangnekar, Richard Cincotta and Ganesh Pangare and Arun Agrawal
June 1994
Overview

PASTORALISM IN WESTERN INDIA FROM A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE: SOME COMMENTS

Ilse Köhler-Rollefson

Discussions about pastoralism tend to be dominated by concepts and models derived from African contexts and, to a lesser degree, the Middle East. The cultural, socio-economic, and even ecological framework of pastoralism in India is quite different, to the extent that categories commonly applied elsewhere are not automatically appropriate. This became evident during an earlier exchange in the PDN Newsletter as to whether the Raika pastoralists of Rajasthan should be regarded as nomadic or sedentary (March 1992 and December 1992). Hopefully, the following comments will clarify some potentially confusing aspects of Indian pastoralism for those unacquainted with the region.

GOATS AND GRASSES IN WESTERN RAJASTHAN: INTERPRETING CHANGE

Paul Robbins

The fragile arid zone of Western Rajasthan has experienced a dramatic shift in subsistence patterns in the last twenty years. Long the location for breeding and marketing large stock (cattle and camels), the livestock demography has been turned upside-down in recent years with small stock (sheep and goats) coming to dominate household strategies. Planners in government ministries and range scientists decry the dramatic changes, warning that this plague of grazers and browsers will quickly `desertify' the region.

However, the move into small stock, especially goats should be seen as an adaptation by the rural poor to utilise ecological and institutional interstices while other opportunities for stable income and access to protein continue to decline. Examining regional trends and household strategies in the arid districts of Jaisalmer, Barmer, and Jodhpur sheds some light on these changes.

SOME OBSERVATIONS ON PASTORALISM IN PARTS OF GUJARAT AND RAJASTHAN

D.V. Rangnekar

An attempt is made in this note to give a brief account of observations gathered on pastoralists, as part of the development activities of BAIF (Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation), an NGO involved in rural development in five states of India. In many cases, the outcome of development efforts is well below expectations and pastoral communities are often blamed for failures that occur. Illiteracy, ignorance, resistance to change, traditionality etc. are often given as the causes of failure, and pastoralists are frequently branded as parasites on society.

WOMEN PASTORALISTS, INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION IN NORTHERN GUJARAT

Sangeeta Rangnekar

The contribution of pastoralist women in livestock production has not received the attention it deserves (even by the Pastoral Development Network) and women as a source of information on livestock production, have been ignored. They not only remain the `hidden hands' of production but also a neglected source of indigenous knowledge. This note attempts to highlight a few salient aspects relating to work sharing, decision making, knowledge and perceptions of women from the pastoral community. These studies were undertaken in selected districts of North Gujarat.

POPULATION GROWTH, AGRICULTURAL CHANGE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE TRANSITION: Pastoralism Amidst the Agricultural Economy of Gujarat

Richard P. Cincotta and Ganesh Pangare

Dr Amrita Patel, Managing Director of India's National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), stated in her keynote address that `in the coming decade, it is the goal of NDDB that all livestock be removed from degraded gauchar (common) lands, to convert small producer dairy herds to completely stall-fed enterprises'. These words express the hopes of an environmentally-conscious leader of cooperative dairy development who understands that village common lands in India, needed desperately for rural water catchment and firewood production, are currently unable to sustain the intense grazing pressures to which most are submitted. Unfortunately, in the state of Gujarat, the very heart of Indian dairy cooperative success, there is presently little hope of reducing grazing pressure on commons, regardless of NDDB's efforts to promote composite feeds and zero grazing. Reduced to a fraction of their former area, and depleted of their most palatable vegetation, Gujarat's common lands are utilised by small ruminant pastoralists who can neither afford commercial feeds, nor can aspire to productive dairying. Nonetheless, these pastoralists, and their goats, sheep, and the manure they produce, are vital to the state's agricultural economy.

I DON'T NEED IT, BUT YOU CAN'T HAVE IT: POLITICS ON THE COMMONS

Arun Agrawal

This paper examines politics and its role in the formation of institutions around the `commons'. A number of property rights theorists, of course, have pointed out the relevance of political considerations in considering institutional origins and resource allocation (Bates 1988, 1989, Libecap 1989, North 1990). The following argument, however, goes beyond much of the existing literature by describing how distributional struggles between rival factions can lead to new institutional arrangements that leave every faction worse off as compared to outcomes under earlier arrangements. More broadly, the paper describes the interlaced elements in the relationships within local communities, and how different state institutions permeate communities to provide both an arena and the resources which mark local political struggles.

Language: 
English
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