Gogula Kanaya's family earned Rs 1,266.90, which is the highest income in Gogulapudi, because his wife and his two sons helped him in cutting bamboos. The earnings of Gogula Chinnaya were only Rs 172.60. He was a boy fourteen years old, and he did not get help from the other members of his family because his parents were too old for forest work.
The clerks of all the three organizations cheated the Reddis by taking advantage of their illiteracy and lack of knowledge of accounts. The supervisor of the Andhra Paper Mills weighed the bamboos cut by the Reddis and the labour imported from outside by using a spring balance whose needle did not rest at zero but was adjusted to rest at 200, thereby underweighing each bundle of bamboo by two to three kilos. Further, the accounts of rice advances made were falsified to the Reddis' disadvantage.
The forest ranger of the logging division deducted 5 percent of the bamboos felled by the Reddis and paid them accordingly. But when
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submitting the bills to the government, he gave the actual number of bamboos felled and pocketed the difference. If the Reddis had been paid for the actual number of bamboos felled by them, they would have received a total of Rs 12,913 instead of Rs 12,298. Although the Reddis resented the deduction of 5 percent of bamboos they had felled, they were helpless because they did not know the higher officials to whom their complaints would have had to be sent, and even if they had done so it is unlikely that they would have obtained any redress.
The creation of a market for labour in the forest by government and paper mills has drawn the Reddis of these hill settlements into the nexus of a market economy. Cash transactions have replaced barter, and the cash requirements of the Reddis have increased although the use of money within the village has not yet developed. Due to the flow of cash and the easy availability of credit from the merchants of Kamaram during the bamboo-cutting season, rice, which in the past was for Reddis a rare delicacy, has become the staple food of Gogulapudi at least for six months in the year. During my stay in Gogulapudi, in hardly any of the houses was millet regularly cooked. The only exception was the house of Kechel Potaya, because he could not earn cash due to a broken shoulder. Thus the Reddis today depend for their food on outside markets for at least five to six months in a year, for rice is not grown in Gogulapudi. Besides the consumption of rice, the consumption of dried fish and tobacco, which also must be procured in the market, have increased substantially. Today each family, at least during the bamboo-felling-season, eats dried fish once a week.
In the 1940s, the quantity of tobacco consumed by Reddis was small, and they got it by exchanging their baskets and winnowing fans and by growing a few plants near their houses. Today on an average each adult Reddi male spends weekly about Rs 1.50 on tobacco.
Nowadays Reddis frequently visit markets at Doramamidi and Buttayagudem, and are gradually replacing their earthen cooking pots by aluminium and other metal vessels. The lorries which regularly ply between the bamboo coups and bamboo depots in nearby towns have enabled the Reddis to visit these towns both for enjoyment, such as seeing movies, and for making occasional purchases. These visits have widened the Reddis' horizon and have changed their social outlook.
Although the total consumption of cereals by the Reddis has increased, the yield from podu fields has gone down. The area in which the Reddis clear forest growth to prepare podu fields has been reduced to 1 to 1 1/2 acres, partly because of the official restrictions on shifting cultivation and partly because of the diversion of labour to work for government and paper mills. With the decrease in the area of podu
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fields, the yield from them has also declined. This phenomenon increases the dependence of Reddis on the market for their food, and exposes them to fluctuations in food prices.
Although the cash income of the Reddis of Gogulapudi has increased enormously when compared with the past, they have little cash to spare because of the high cost of food. This will be seen from the following example. During my stay in Gogulapudi, the wife of Gogula Kanaya cooked daily 3 kilograms of rice, half the quantity in the morning and the remaining half in the evening, to feed her husband and four children. Thus the family consumed each month 90 kilograms of rice. If we assume that the family consumed rice during six months, then 540 kilograms of rice were required. The price of 1 kilogram of rice was then Rs 2, so the family had to spend Rs 1,080 on rice alone, out of its total cash income of Rs 1,266.90. Besides rice, the family spent money on tobacco, dried fish, and occasionally liquor and other small luxuries. In fact, with the exception of the families of Kopal Potaya, Kopal Gangaya, Boli Potaya, and Gogula Pandaya, none of the families had any savings. On the other hand, six families owed between Rs 10 and Rs 30 to the petty merchants who visit Gogulapudi during winter and summer.
The Reddis do not have much spare cash to spend on clothes, and the dress and appearance of the men and women of Gogulapudi has not changed very much since the 1940s. Three or four Reddis have acquired trousers, but even these men reserve such clothes for festivals and do not wear them otherwise. Men usually wear nothing but a small loin-cloth (budda gochi ) to cover their private parts, and a few occasionally wear shirts. While they are in the village or working in the fields, most women wear only a sari, but when they go to other villages or to a market they usually put on a bodice. The dress of the children is scanty.
Gogulapudi is no longer isolated, and its economy has ceased to be self-sufficient. Owing to the availability of wage labour, the consumption of cereals has increased, but the Reddis of today are exposed to the inflation of food prices. In the absence of any government-sponsored development activities, their future is bound up with that of the organizations exploiting forest resources, and in the event of the cessation of their activities in the region the Reddis would be faced with a serious economic crisis.
Pandirimamidigudem is a Konda Reddi settlement in the plains of West Godavari District. This settlement is about ten kilometers south
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of Gogulapudi, and is surrounded by Koya villages. Buttayagudem, the headquarters of the community development block in which the settlement lies, is situated at a distance of about twenty kilometers.
Prior to the smallpox epidemic of the early 1940s, the village was about half a kilometer south of the present site, to which it was shifted due to the large number of deaths. About two kilometers north of the present site, there are still remnants of huts under a tamarind grove at the base of a hill suggesting an earlier settlement of Reddis there. However, no one in the village, not even the oldest living person, ever lived on that site.
Although the Reddis of this settlement have been in touch with the outside world for a long time, their contact with the non-tribal population has increased since the early 1950s. It was during this time that the forest coups in the region were auctioned and the first non-tribal, a Komti merchant, migrated to Pandirimamidigudem from Jangareddigudem and established the first small provision store. We shall discuss the role played by Komtis in the economy of the Reddis at the end of this section.
Within the last fifteen years the village has come into the orbit of the developmental activity of the government. In the past the Reddis fetched water for drinking and cooking purposes from a stream flowing about two kilometers from the village. To alleviate the drinking-water problem, a well was sunk within the village at government expense. A primary school with a single teacher was established in the village some time around 1965. In the early 1970s, two fair-weather roads connecting Kamaram and Buttayagudem with Jeelugumilli and Doramamidi were laid through the village. Since then a number of trucks heading for the forest coups in the hills regularly pass through the village during the dry season. A daily requirement depot of the Girijan Corporation, selling rice, chillies, oil, etc., at reasonable prices was also established in the early 1970s. This depot also purchases tamarind, soapnut, broomsticks, and other minor forest produce collected by Reddis and the Koyas of nearby villages.
During my stay in the village in 1978, there were thirty-seven families, and the total population was 156, of which 80 were males and 76 females. Out of thirty-seven families, seven were non-tribal families, accounting for 24 persons. Besides the Komti already mentioned, there was another family of Komtis who had come to the village four years previously. Two non-tribals were liquor merchants and sold government-supplied alcoholic drinks. Both of them had come in the last five or six years. For the last two years, one of these merchants had cultivated with hired bullocks three acres of land leased from a Reddi. There was also the family of the clerk of the daily requirement depot. An old non-tribal couple eked out a living by selling dried fish in the
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nearby villages. There was also a carpenter, who worked mainly for the non-tribals of nearby villages, making to order such furniture as chairs and cots from local timber, which was cheap due to the proximity of the forest. The Reddis did not engage his services, as they made wooden ploughs and cots themselves.
Out of thirty Reddi families, eight had moved to Pandirimamidigudem from other villages. One had migrated there from across the state border about thirty years previously during the communist troubles. Other families had come and settled in the village about ten to fifteen years earlier, because they either had married girls of the village or were in search of land due to the prohibition of podu cultivation in their home settlements. With the exception of the family which had immigrated thirty years ago, all others had close relatives in the village.
The change among the Reddis of this settlement due to their contact with the outside world is apparent from the clothes they wear. They dress in the style of non-tribals and the budda gochi ("loin-cloth"), the universal dress of men in the hill settlements, is replaced by dhoti . They wear shirts even in the village, as well as when they visit other villages and markets. Elderly men either wear a turban or keep a towel on their shoulder. A few who are comparatively well off wear sandals purchased from markets. The younger generation of men, particularly those between fifteen and thirty years of age, wear shorts and shirts tailored in modern style. In this village I saw only two old men dressed in the style of hillmen, and these two had migrated from settlements in the mountains. All men use the services of a barber, who comes to the village regularly from Doramamidi, and pay him a small fee in cash for shaving and cutting their hair. Women wear sari in the style of non-tribals and a short-sleeved blouse (choli ). While hill women do not feel self-conscious about leaving their breasts exposed, an entirely new concept of modesty has crept into the village owing to the long-standing contact with non-tribals, and hence none of the women in the village moves around without a choli . The boys wear shorts and shirts, and small girls wear frocks. The clothes worn by boys and girls enrolled in the village school are supplied by government. Cheap bangles and necklaces of glass beads are the common ornaments of the women, and even small pieces of gold and silver jewelry are occasionally worn by the more affluent women.
The Reddis of this settlement persist in the performance of all the traditional rituals. They celebrate the mango festival, hold first fruit ceremonies before eating the new crops, and perform the festival of mother earth before ploughing their fields. A few Reddis also celebrate certain Hindu festivals, visit nearby Hindu temples, and make offer-
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ings to the deities. In most of the houses there are cheap prints depicting Hindu gods, and a few Reddis burn incense to such deities.
With the establishment of a primary school in the village about fifteen years ago, literacy has spread among the younger generation. Two Reddi youths have studied up to the eighth form, and a few others have studied up to the fifth form. One youth who had studied up to the eighth form has been appointed as basic health worker ("barefoot doctor") after training at the hospital at block headquarters. In 1978, out of twenty-two Reddi boys and twenty-three Reddi girls between six and twelve years old, fourteen boys and seven girls were enrolled in the village school. Four other boys and one girl were studying in an upper primary ashram school located in a neighbouring village.
Modern medicine has largely replaced the traditional practices of healers (veju ), and belief in such magicians has considerably declined. For common ailments such as fever the Reddis either visit the government hospital at Doramamidi or take medicines from the basic health worker. A few Reddis have visited a private nursing home at Jangareddigudem for treatment of serious complaints. During one of the family-planning campaigns of the late 1970s, fifteen men of the village were sterilized by vasectomy.
Agriculture and Land Tenure
In the past, the Reddis used to cultivate flat land in the style of konda podu . They cleared the forest on a patch of land, allowed the felled trees to dry for three or four months, then burned them and in the ashes dibbled seed with digging sticks. After cultivating the land for two or three years, they shifted to a new plot. After nine or ten years, they cultivated the old patches of land, where by that time the forest had regenerated. The Reddis gave up this slash-and-burn cultivation about three or four decades ago and began plough cultivation. In 1978 only one man, who had recently moved to Pandirimamidigudem from a hill settlement, cultivated konda podu on a nearby hill slope.
Though only eleven of the thirty Reddi families own parts of the 300 acres of flat land available in the village, all families are involved in cultivation. The soils are sandy and of poor quality, and though the Reddis own cattle and know of the advantage of manuring, they are not in the habit of manuring their fields. This may be either due to the lack of bullock carts for transporting manure or due to the relative novelty of plough cultivation. The Reddis grow sorghum millet, kidney beans (Phaseolus aconitifolius ), pigeon peas, and other pulses as
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food crops, and sesamum and castor as cash crops, which they sell to merchants.
There are no sources of irrigation for general use. Boli Soma Raju sunk a well in his land about ten years ago and cultivated tobacco and chillies until he was murdered by his brother two years later. Since then the well has remained in disuse. In 1978 Boli Mukka Reddi, the headman (pedda kapu ) of the village, took a loan of Rs 9,000 from a commercial bank at Buttayagudem for sinking a well, which enables him to grow tobacco and chillies.
The Reddis raise sorghum millet by two methods. In the first method they prepare the soil by ploughing it three or four times and then broadcast the seed. A large area is cultivated under sorghum by this method. In the second method a smaller area is ploughed six to eight times, and a well-prepared patch is used as a nursery. When the seedlings are about four to five inches high, they are transplanted into the field in rows with the help of a rope. Between the rows a space of about nine inches is allowed. As transplanting requires a great deal of labour, only a small amount of sorghum is raised by this method, though the yield is higher. This method of cultivation has been in vogue for the past sixteen years.
The unit of consumption is the nuclear family, as it is in the hill settlements. But only in a few cases is the nuclear family also the unit of production. The unit of agricultural production in Pandirimamidigudem and in the surrounding Koya villages is known as kamatham . A kamatham consists of members of two or more families who pool their land, labour, and cattle resources for cultivation. If a kamatham does not have bullocks or requires an additional bullock, it hires it from others who have a surplus of bullocks and pays one bag (120 kilograms) of millet per year. If the hired bullock is yoked for the first time, no payment is made to the owner of the bullock. The kamatham is the unit for borrowing grain in periods of food shortage, and such grain is repaid from the next year's yield. The harvested crop is split up into shares after deducting the land revenue, hire charges for bullocks, repayment of loans taken before the harvest, and the seed for the next year's sowing. The grain yields are distributed among the members as follows: one share to each person contributing a pair of bullocks; and one share to each pair of persons, i.e. husband and wife, mother and son, or brother and sister, working on the land. The owner of the land does not receive any share for contributing the land, but only the share for his contribution to the labour. Only if the land revenue is not deducted from the common pool is he given an extra share.
The men of the kamatham plough the land, sow the seed, guard the field from wild animals and birds, and harvest the crop. Weeding is
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done exclusively by women, and they help the men in other agricultural operations, such as transplanting and winnowing the threshed grain. A kamatham comes into being by informal understandings between the members, and it lasts as long as no differences develop among them. The members of a kamatham are usually interrelated. Within the kamatham all are equal, and there are no hierarchical relationships, irrespective of the area of the land contributed by each member.
The Reddis of Pandirimamidigudem are organized into eleven kamatham , of which only three are nuclear family units. One woman leased out her land to a Koya of a neighbouring village at a rent of Rs 100 per acre when her husband died and her son was too young to handle a plough. Another widow's land was cultivated by her son-in-law's kamatham , and she got one out of three shares.
The largest kamatham of the village was that of the headman (pedda kapu ), Boli Mukka Reddi. Besides himself, his wife, and a son, nine other members of six families worked together to cultivate twenty acres of Mukka Reddi's land. None of the other members had land, and the kamatham also cultivated eight acres belonging to Suppala Ramulamma, the mother-in-law of Mukka Reddi. The kamatham retained 2 out of 3 shares of the yield from these eight acres and gave 1 share to Ramulamma. Mukka Reddi owned seven plough bullocks, and the kamatham hired one plough bullock from a Komti and ploughed the land with four ploughs. The grain yield was divided into 7 1/2 shares, after repayment of loans and deducting land revenue and charges for the hired bullock. Three shares were given to Mukka Reddi for the labour of his family members and his bullocks, and the remaining 5 1/2 shares were divided among the nine other members of the kamatham .
Another big kamatham was that of Mamidi Pandaya. In this kamatham were three families besides the family of Pandaya. Two were those of his younger brothers, and the third family was that of his father's sister's son. All had contributed land and cultivated it together with three ploughs. One bullock was contributed by Pandaya, three bullocks by his brother Ganga Raju, two bullocks by his father's sister's son, while the youngest brother did not contribute any plough bullocks. The grain yield was divided into five shares, each family getting one share irrespective of its contribution of plough bullocks, and one share was given to Pandaya's mother, who lived separately.
Before the abolition of the zamindari system, the village was part of Gutala estate. Then none of the Reddis had individual ownership rights over the land, as all the cultivable land was held by the village community as a whole. However, during this period the Reddis recognized the right of a family over the land on which it had cleared the
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forest, and no one else cultivated it without the permission of that family. We do not know how land revenue was collected while the Reddis were practising shifting cultivation, but ever since they have taken up plough cultivation, the land revenue assessed for the village as a whole has been collected from each kamatham on the basis of the number of ploughs it used to cultivate the land.
All the tamarind trees and toddy palms of the village were also owned communally. Each family participated in the tamarind harvest and got an equal share. The village council allotted to each family a certain number of toddy palms for tapping toddy and cutting the leaves for thatching purposes. None had a right to sell either palm leaves or the trees for other purposes. This communal ownership over the land and the tamarind trees and toddy palms remained unchanged even after the abolition of the zamindari system, for the village as a whole was assessed for purposes of revenue collection.
The state government recently completed a surevy of the agricultural land in the village. In 1974, the revenue authorities issued titles(patta ) of individual ownership to the Reddis for the land on which the forest was cleared either by the present cultivator or by his father. Since then, the state has been collecting land revenues directly from the individual owners, according to the acreage by each family.
Ever since individual ownership rights were granted, those Reddis on whose land there are tamarind trees and toddy palms have enjoyed the usufruct of these trees. With the exception of the tamarind trees standing on the village site, all trees have thus become the private property of the owners of the land. For the first time palm leaves acquired an exchange value, and all those who have no land or insufficient numbers of palms purchase leaves needed for thatching from those who have a surplus of leaves. As the trunks of the toddy palms are used in building houses, few Reddis have sold them to the non-tribals of nearby villages. While I was staying in the village, three families sold to timber merchants five mango trees standing on their lands for Rs 100 each.
The concept of private property which has crept into the Reddi economy of this village, coupled with contacts with outsiders, is eroding the authority of the headman and the village council. Boli Mukka Reddi, the headman of the village, confessed to me that of late nobody was listening to him. There were latent divisions within the village community due to unresolved quarrels which had taken place in the recent past.
One such quarrel occurred between Mamidi Kannaya and the other villagers over the usufruct of eleven tamarind trees which were standing on the former village site. Until the year before, the usufruct of these trees was enjoyed by all the Reddi families of the village. But
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Kannaya refused to share the yield of these trees because he had been given the ownership rights over the former village site, and he alone was paying land revenue for it. This infuriated all the other Reddis, but they did not take the issue to the village council because other owners of tamarind trees did not share their tamarind trees with the entire village either. Since then Mamidi Kannaya has been socially boycotted by others and is not invited to marriages or other social gatherings.
Another quarrel resulting in some sort of social boycott took place at the time of the mango festival. The youths of the village wanted to hire a record player for the mango festival and began collecting Rs 5 from each family. A few resented the collection of the money but did not object openly. Mamidi Mukkaya, though contributing Rs 5, commented that the money was being collected for the purpose of buying drink. All those who were collecting the money got angry and a quarrel took place. However, it subsided after the intervention of others. A few months later, when a pig of Mukkaya's entered the field of Boli Mukka Reddi's kamatham , a young man who had taken an active part in the collection of money for the mango festival and was one of the members of the kamatham killed it with an arrow. Mukkaya, who was convinced that he would not get justice, did not take the matter to the headman and the village council. Besides these two quarrels, there were also some disputes between members of certain kamatham over the distribution of the grain yields.
Alternative Sources of Income
The Reddis of all hill settlements weave bamboo baskets and winnowing fans during the rainy season. On an average each adult male can weave five winnowing fans in a week and can sell each winnowing fan either for Rs 2 or for 1 1/2 kilograms of sorghum millet in plains villages. In Pandirimamidigudem only two Reddis know the art of weaving baskets, and these two have moved there from the hills.
During the summer months the women cut broomstick grass, tie it into bundles, and sell these to the daily requirement depot of the Girijan Corporation, which pays Rs 10 for every one hundred broomsticks. The women also collect small quantities of soapnut, available in the vicinity of the village. Another source of income for the Reddis of this village is tamarind. After harvesting the tamarinds, they exchange them for rice, either in the shops of Komtis or in the Girijan depot.
During the 1950s, when the forest coups were auctioned, the Reddis of this settlement worked for forest contractors. But due to indiscriminate felling and the pressure on cultivable land, the forest in the
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vicinity of the village disappeared. However, on the nearby hills there is still some secondary forest.
With the growth of world demand for Virginia tobacco grown on light soils, the area on which Virginia tobacco is cultivated increased sharply in the upland non-tribal areas of the district. The amount of firewood needed for curing Virginia tobacco also increased, and to meet the demand for firewood the government began the extraction of firewood through its logging division. During the winter months a few Reddis worked in firewood coups located near neighbouring villages and were paid Rs 3.50 per cubic meter of wood. However, earnings from this source were meagre because of the distance of the coups from the villages.
Due to a great demand for firewood for curing Virginia tobacco, a few merchants from the plains began smuggling the wood from this area with the connivance of forest guards and petty officials of the department. Through the carpenter who lives in the village, the smugglers employed the Reddis of this settlement for felling the wood and loading it into trucks. The smugglers paid Rs 150 per truck-load of wood felled and Rs 20 for loading it into the trucks.
In small groups, the Reddis cut this wood for the smugglers during the winter season. Initially, when there were large orders for felling such wood seventeen men formed themselves into a group and felled six truck-loads. Besides felling these six loads of wood, the members of the group loaded another forty truck-loads of wood felled by others. Later on, the group split up into smaller ones and felled wood, anticipating a demand for it, but only a few could sell the firewood cut by them because the demand had slackened.
The Role of Merchants in the Village
The first non-tribal who settled in Pandirimamidigudem was a merchant of Komti caste from Jangareddigudem. In 1952 he established the first petty provision store in this region, and at that time he was almost a pauper. Initially he sold millet, rice, salt, chillies, and other commodities of daily use to the Reddis and Koyas in exchange for tamarind, soapnut, and other minor forest produce. Gradually he began giving grain on loan and got repaid by deliveries of minor forest produce.
Once he had established himself, he began advancing grain loans on interest, besides purchasing castor, sesamum, and other cash crops from the tribals. With the easy availability of credit, the Reddis of this settlement and the Koyas of neighbouring villages began taking millet and rice on credit during years of bad harvests and to tide them over family crises such as marriages or funerals. Later he also gave cash
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loans to Reddis and Koyas who pledged their future harvest of oilseeds or kidney beans.
If a Reddi takes on loan one bag (120 kilograms) of millet from the Komti, he has to repay a bag of millet (the actual loan) in addition to half a bag (60 kilograms) of millet as interest. Often the crops are bad, and once a Reddi gets indebted to the Komti he cannot extricate himself, because he pays more than half of the current year's harvest to clear off the previous year's loan and again falls back on the Komti to bridge the food gap till the next harvest. By giving these food loans the Komti controls the entire agricultural economy of the village. An example will demonstrate this.
During 1977, the Komti settled in the village advanced 325 kilograms of rice and 2,600 kilograms of millet to the Reddis of Pandirimamidigudem alone. The Reddis would have had to repay to the Komti 490 kilograms of rice and 3,900 kilograms of millet, including interest, to clear off their debts at the time of harvest. Due to a cyclone the crops failed, and the millet yield was negligible. The Reddis repaid only 965 kilograms of millet out of 3,900 kilograms (including interest) by giving the Komti 225 kilograms of castor, 125 kilograms of soapnuts, 1,440 kilograms of kidney beans, and 65 kilograms of millet. They still owed 2,836 kilograms of millet and 490 kilograms of rice, which multiplied to 4,260 kilograms of millet and 735 kilograms of rice by the next year's harvest.
Until five or six years ago this Komti was the only merchant in the region either to give grain loans or to purchase kidney beans and oilseeds from Reddis and Koyas. Using his monopoly position he dictated prices whenever he purchased minor forest produce or grain from the tribals.
Until the Girijan Corporation established a depot in the village, he was the only merchant who purchased minor forest produce from the tribals living in this area. He bought such produce at rock-bottom prices and sold it at an enormous profit in the market of Jangareddigudem. Even recently, in spite of the prohibition of private purchase of minor forest produce from tribals, he bought substantial amounts of tamarind and soapnut by giving the Reddis advances of grain. With the connivance of the clerk of the daily requirement depot, he transported such produce to the nearest town.
From the early 1970s onwards, when the armed squads of Naxalites began operating in this area, he reduced the scale of his operations. But by that time he was believed to own property worth Rs 300,000—400,000 in Jangareddigudem. He told me that the Reddis and Koyas of the surrounding villages still owned him grain worth Rs 20,000. In the absence of alternative sources of credit, the Reddis and Koyas have a high regard for the Komti because he came to their rescue in periods
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of crisis. In spite of his exploitation of Reddis and Koyas, it must be held to the credit of this particular Komti that, unlike many other merchants in similar circumstances, he did not grab any of the Reddis' land.
Koruturu village lies on the right bank of the Godavari River below the gorge area, at a distance of about forty kilometers from Polavaram, the headquarters of the taluk and the community development block of the same name. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the government began auctioning the rights to extract bamboo and timber from the hills flanking the river, and since then the Reddis of this settlement have come in contact with the non-tribals of the coastal plains. Communications between Koruturu and the outside world are excellent when compared with those of the hill and other plains settlements of the Reddis. The village can be reached throughout the year from Rajahmundry, a big market town in the coastal plains, and by motor-boats which ply up to Bhadrachalam, an important Hindu temple town. During the dry season one can also reach the village from Polavaram by jeep, as a fair weather road was built in the early 1960s.
The inhabitants of Koruturu were exclusively Reddis and Koyas until 1936. Then there were about twenty-five to thirty houses. In 1937, the first non-tribal, a clerk of one of the bamboo and timber merchants by name of Satyam, settled in the village, and has been living there since. The second non-tribal came to the village to establish his permanent residence fourteen years later. The composition of the village population has undergone substantial changes in the last two decades, and in 1978, when I was in the village, there were seventy-four households, with a population of 236. The Reddis were the major ethnic group, with a population of 129, and lived in thirty-four households. There were fourteen Koya families, and their population was 43. The rest of the families, numbering twenty-six, were non-tribals. With a total strength of 64, they represented 27.6 percent of the village population.
The influx of non-tribals had already begun when the village was brought into the ambit of the tribal development activities of the government in 1961. In that year a primary school was established, and in 1972 this was turned into a ashram school. In the early 1960s a forest guard and a forest watcher were posted in the village, and a forest rest house was built. In 1969 the postal department opened a sub-post office in the village with a postmaster and a postman to assist him. In the same year a health worker was posted in the village to dispense medi-
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cines for malaria and other common ailments. Around this time a maternity and child care centre was established, and an auxiliary nurse-midwife was posted to advise the pregnant and lactating women. The Girijan Corporation set up a daily requirement depot in the village to make available cereals, salt, chillies, and other commodities at reasonable prices. A veterinary dispensary with a livestock inspector was opened in the village in 1973. I was told that during the years when bamboo is extracted from bamboo coups of the Papikonda reserved forest, the Andhra Paper Mills establishes its rice depot in the village, and a large number of non-tribal labourers imported by the agents of the paper mill reside in or near the village.
In the past the Reddis and Koyas of this village had a subsistence economy like that of any other Reddi settlement on the riverbank. Then the Reddis depended for food mainly on sorghum millet and other small millets raised on podu fields. Although the Reddis owned flat land and were cultivating it, they still paid great attention to their podu fields. During the bamboo-felling season, the Reddis worked for timber and bamboo merchants and were paid wages in kind. In lean periods the Reddis bridged their food gap by gathering a variety of wild roots, caryota pith, and mango kernels, and hence they did not have to take loans of food grain, a practice which is now the main cause of indebtedness.
In the past the Reddis who hired their labour to bamboo merchants received their wages mainly in the form of grain. They depended for all other commodities, such as clothing, salt, chillies, earthen pots, and iron implements, on the timber and bamboo merchants. Professor Fürer-Haimendorf in his book The Reddis of the Bison Hills described vividly the nefarious and exploitative activities of the timber and bamboo merchants. The tyranny of these merchants ended with the establishment of a labour cooperative society by the Swami of Parantapalli in the early 1940s. The Swami introduced payment of wages in cash to the Reddis who hired their labour to the cooperative society. During the years when the labour cooperative society was active, the society procured rice from Rajahmundry and made it available to the Reddis at reasonable prices. However, the grip of the timber merchants over the Reddis was only temporarily removed, for the labour cooperative society functioned only for a few years. In the early 1960s the government excluded these merchants from the bamboo and timber trade, and gave the Andhra Paper Mills a monopoly on the extraction of bamboo from the forests of this region. Since then the Reddis have been paid cash wages for work in the bamboo coups.
Due to long-standing contact with the outside world and particularly to the later influx of a large number of non-tribals into the village, the outlook and the value system of the Reddis of this settlement
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have changed substantially. Nowadays the Reddis name their children in the style of plains people, and educate them by sending them to school. When I was in the village, almost all the children between six and fourteen years old were enrolled in the ashram school. A few boys and girls who had completed their studies in the village school went to Kandrukota village a few miles further downstream and sought admission to the upper primary school. Some Reddis now employ the services of a Brahmin priest to officiate at marriage ceremonies and pay him a fee. The hiring of record players and the decoration of houses with paper flowers have become common practices.
In the last fifteen years major shifts in dietary habits have taken place, and now Reddis rarely dig for wild tubers. For all practical purposes, they have given up eating wild roots, caryota pith, and mango kernels. Only those six families who still have podu fields consume sorghum millet, that, too, for only a short period in a year, for rice is widely available and is generally preferred to other food grains. At funerals and weddings rice, as the more prestigious food, is served to the guests, and the serving of sorghum millet on such occasions is looked down upon. These changes in the dietary habits, the engaging of the services of Brahmin priests for the performance of marriage rites, and the hiring of record players, coupled with general inflation, have pushed up the cost of marriage and death ceremonies and have made the Reddis vulnerable in periods of a crisis in the family. The impact of these changes on the Reddi economy will be discussed below.
With the increasing monetisation of the economy, cattle, goats, and pigs, which in the past had only a use value, have acquired an exchange value. Raising goats for sale in the market has become a common practice. Occasionally, surplus plough bullocks and cows are also sold by Reddis.
Based on the role they play in the economy of the Reddis and Koyas, the non-tribals of the village can be classified into three categories: (1) government and semi-government employees, (2) traders, agricultural labourers, and others rendering services, and (3) cultivators.
There are ten families of government employees in the village. Three of these are Koyas and one is a Reddi. With the exception of the forest guard and the forest watcher, none of the non-tribal government employees has any role in the village economy. All these employees are outsiders, and they stay in the village only as long as they are not transferred to some other place. Both the forest guard and the watcher regularly extort cash and chickens from the Reddis and Koyas on the plea that the tribals illegally use timber for making ploughs, and in addition they collect money whenever a Reddi or Koya builds a
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new house. Such fees are collected even though government orders allow tribals the use of forest produce for domestic purposes.
In the second category of non-tribals there are eleven families, but among these only one, a single woman, plays a significant role in the economy of the Reddis and Koyas. She was the concubine of a motorboat owner and was brought by him to the village a few years ago. She is involved in the firewood business, and is an agent of the firewood smugglers of Rajahmundry. She purchase rice, chillies, and tobacco from Polavaram and advances them to needy Reddis and Koyas. They gather firewood from the forest, cut it up, and make it into bundles, which they supply to her at a rate of half a rupee per bundle weighing fifteen to twenty kilograms. This woman sells the firewood for Re 1 a bundle to the merchants of Rajahmundry, who come in sailing boats once in a week or ten days to collect the firewood and smuggle it to the markets of Rajahmundry by bribing the forest guards and other petty officials posted in riverside villages.
Every third year the bamboo coups in the vicinity of Koruturu are not worked, and during these years, when no regular forest labour is available, most Reddis work mainly for the agents of firewood smugglers. On an average each worker cuts sufficient firewood for fifteen bundles in a day if he works from morning to evening and for about five bundles if he works for only a few hours. In the year in which I stayed in Koruturu, the forest guard collected one bundle of firewood once a week from all the Reddis and Koyas engaged in cutting firewood and sold it to the same firewood smugglers for Re 1 per bundle.
Out of the remaining ten non-tribal households, two are those of single women who run tea shops; their customers are mainly the other non-tribals living in the village. Occasionally the Reddis, too, buy tea and other eatables from these shops. Another non-tribal in this category is a Muslim from Kerala who came a few years ago and set up a provision store. Ten years ago an evangelist of the Christian mission at Narsapur was posted in the village, but he has failed to convert any of the tribals. He does not have any stake in the village economy and depends for his livelihood exclusively on the salary which he receives from the mission. One of the non-tribals is a carpenter cum smith, whom the non-tribal cultivators employ for making agricultural implements, such as ploughs and harrows. The Reddis employ him for affixing plough-shares to the ploughs made by them and for making arrow-heads. Two non-tribals are washermen, who launder the clothes of the non-tribals for a small fee besides engaging themselves as casual agricultural labourers. All the other non-tribals in this category are casual agricultural labourers.
The third category of non-tribals, the cultivators, though only five in number, plays an important role in the village economy, for they
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control the major part of the cultivable flat land. In 1978, out of 150 acres of flat agricultural land available in the village, 119 acres were cultivated by them. They raised tobacco on 36 acres, chillies on 35 acres, kidney beans on 23 acres, black gram (Phaseolus mungo ) on 15 acres, and paddy on 18 acres. However, none of these five cultivators owns any land in the village.
Although non-tribals lived in the village in the past, they were basically interested in the bamboo and timber trade, and none of them had any interest in agriculture, as then the price of sorghum millet and other pulses in the markets of the plains was not attractive. In the early 1960s, the period when private merchants were displaced from the bamboo trade coincided with an increasing demand for chillies in the outside markets. During this time many clerks of the former bamboo and timber merchants living in the riverside villages switched over to commercial agriculture.
Although the first non-tribal settled in Koruturu as early as 1936, he did not engage in cultivation until the 1950s, when he began to raise paddy for consumption and kidney beans on a small area for sale. He took up the growing of cash crops in 1968, after having failed in some business enterprise in the plains. The second non-tribal, who came to the village in 1954 to set up a provision store, was the first non-tribal to cultivate part of the village land. He told me that then he used to raise black gram, kidney beans for the market, and paddy for consumption. Between them these two non-tribals cultivated not more than twenty-five to thirty acres of land in the village. During this period, some other non-tribals who lived in the village for shorter periods did not cultivate any land, as they were exclusively engaged in the bamboo business.
The first non-tribal who migrated to this village with the sole intention of cultivating chillies and tobacco arrived in 1967. Later other non-tribals took up the cultivation of tobacco and chillies, and by 1978 two Reddis began raising those cash crops. Although none of the non-tribals owns land in the village, in the past ten years they were never short of land for cultivation. In fact, in the early 1970s, when the demand for Virginia tobacco increased phenomenally, they had invested substantial amounts of money by building six tobacco-curing barns in the village.
The following examples will show the process by which the land passes from the Reddis and Koyas into the hands of non-tribals.
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The three examples cited above show that in periods of crisis in the family, such as marriage or death, the Reddis borrow money from non-tribals to tide over their difficulties by leasing out their land. There is an increasing discrepancy between the Reddis' resources and the expenditures which contact with more advanced communities encourages them to make at social occasions, such as weddings and funerary rites. At these times they now have no other choice than to borrow money or grain. When a Reddi or Koya approaches a non-tribal with the request for a loan, he has to mortgage some of his land, and the period of lease is fixed by the lender, depending upon the amount asked and the urgency of the borrower's need. In the past, also, the Reddis used to mortgage their labour to merchants, who at that time were interested in hiring as many Reddis as possible for work in forest coups. In the lean season the Reddis used to depend heavily on wild mango kernels, caryota pith, and tamarind seed to bridge the food gap. In 1978 only three families did not lease out their land, and five other families leased out part of the land they owned. These eight families cultivated only 19 out of 150 acres of flat land owned by them in the village. All the rest of the families owning land had either leased out their land or were sharecropping with non-tribals.
One might think that the Reddis would resume cultivation of the land owned by them upon the expiration of the lease period. But in practice, the Reddis are unable to resume cultivation because their savings from wages earned from forest labour are negligible, and they are short of food during the rainy season when no wage labour is available. The change in their dietary habits forces them to depend on the consumption loans readily made available by the non-tribal cultivators. Although the demand for wage labour has increased with the extension of the cultivation of tobacco and chillies, not all the adults in the village get employment even for six months in a year. Furthermore, the demand for agricultural wage labourers is seasonal. The agricultural practices followed by the non-tribal cultivators are described below and indicate the months during which the Reddis are employed and the number of days they are employed.
This area receives one or two pre-monsoon showers in the month of May. From this time on, the non-tribal cultivators begin preparatory tilling of the land. During May to August or September, the land in which tobacco and chillies are raised is ploughed five or six times, depending on the moisture in the soil, in order to control the growth of weeds. Transplanting of tobacco seedlings begins in the first or second week of September and extends up to the first week of October. Chillies are transplanted from the last week of October until the end of November. The land is tilled again crosswise four or five times just
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before the transplanting. Ploughing the land is the exclusive task of men, and they plough in the forenoons from 6:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M.
For transplanting, both men and women are employed. The task of the men is to mark the soil into rows and to make small holes with digging sticks, into which the women transplant the seedlings. Care is taken in maintaining a definite spacing between each row and each plant. Both men and women are employed to carry water from the nearby hill streams in pots for watering the transplanted seedlings. Chemical fertilizer is mixed in the water carried in the pots before watering the plants.
A week or ten days later, by which time the seedlings are well established in the soil, the land is ploughed between the rows to control the growth of weeds. This operation is repeated after an interval of approximately a week or ten days. Each time the land is ploughed between the rows, two women are employed to replant the plants uprooted by the plough.
In addition to the time of ploughing between the rows to control the growth of weeds, women are twice employed for weeding in both tobacco and chilli fields. Ten days after transplanting, tobacco fields are watered once again, employing female labour. The chilli fields are only watered once in December if there are no rains at all. Towards the end of November or the beginning of December, diesel engines are fixed for lifting water from hill streams, and the tobacco fields are watered in between each plucking of the leaf. A man is employed to channel the water each time the field is irrigated. During this period, only men are employed for plant protection measures, such as dusting or spraying of pesticides.
Harvesting of tobacco begins in the middle of January and extends until the end of February. The leaf is plucked five or six times with an interval of eight days. During this period, male and female labour is imported from Guntur District, and the plucking of the leaf is given to these labourers on a contract basis. For curing the leaf, also, the experts from Guntur are employed. After the leaf is cured, Reddi and Koya men and women are employed for grading.
Harvesting of chillies begins at the end of January and extends up to April. On an average, each field is picked eight times, and only female labour is employed for this purpose. After each picking, the chillies are dried and graded before being packed in bags.
The total labour required for the cultivation of one acre of Virginia tobacco is about forty-four man-days and forty-nine woman-days. This estimate includes thirteen ploughing operations extended over six months, transplanting, watering of seedlings, weeding, and grading the cured leaf.
The total labour required for the cultivation of one acre of chillies is
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estimated to be 35 man-days and 103 women-days, covering thirteen ploughing operations performed at various times, transplanting of seedlings, watering of young plants, weeding, replanting of plants uprooted during weeding with ploughs, picking the chillies, and grading them.
The labour employed to grow tobacco on thirty-six acres thus adds up to 1,764 woman-days and 1,584 man-days, and the labour required for the cultivation of thirty-five acres under chillies totals 3,605 woman-days and 1,355 man-days. The figure 1,355 includes 130 mandays required for the preparation of five nurseries in which the seedlings are grown. Out of the total village population of 236,67 men and 61 women hire their labour for wages, and among them 7 men and 6 women are non-tribals. If we exclude the labour employed by the non-tribals for cultivating paddy, kidney beans, and black gram, which is negligible, then on an average a woman gets employment for about 90 days and a man for about 45 days in a year. During the months when bamboo is extracted in the vicinity of the village, men hire their labour mostly to the paper mills. As the demand for both agricultural and forest labour is during the winter and summer seasons, the Reddis of this settlement are unemployed in the rainy season. Because of the change in their dietary habits, they approach the non-tribal cultivators for consumption loans. In order to retain the land of the Reddis and Koyas for cultivation, these non-tribal cultivators advance the loans and ask the Reddis to extend the lease period.
In the past few years, the Reddis of this settlement have become conscious of the Andhra Pradesh (Scheduled Areas) Land Transfer Regulation of 1959 due to the activities of the Naxalite armed squads and to conflicts among the non-tribals. Now they know that the non-tribals cannot grab their land. The presence of the armed squads of the Naxalites in the area also instilled fear in the non-tribals and acted to deter attempts to acquire ownership of tribal land. In the past few years, the non-tribal cultivators have adopted a novel method for retaining the land of the Reddis and Koyas for raising tobacco and chillies. On the expiration of the lease periods, these non-tribals enter into agreements with the Reddis for sharecropping, on the condition that the entire cost of cultivation be borne by them and the yields be distributed according to a ratio of 1 1/2 : 1; 1 1/2 shares to the non-tribal cultivator, and 1 share to the tribal landholder. The other conditions are that the landowner pay the land revenue, that the non-tribal give first preference in the employment of labourers to those families from which he has taken the land, and that he advance grain and cash whenever required by the Reddis and settle the accounts after the crops are sold.
I could not estimate how much the Reddis have benefited from
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these agreements, as they did not remember the grain they took as advance in a year, and they also did not know the cost of cultivation of the commercial crops raised in their fields. The non-tribal cultivators evaded showing me their accounts whenever I requested them to let me see the books. Under these circumstances, I suspect that the non-tribals are cheating the Reddis by falsifying the account books.
In 1969, the wages paid to the agricultural labourers were very low. A woman received Re 1.25 for a day's work, and a man received Rs 2 per day. The Naxalites, who became active in this area in the late 1960s, began organizing the forest labour working in the hills for increasing the wages for felling bamboo. They also organized tribals in nearby villages and gave a strike call for increasing agricultural wages. Though the Reddis of Koruturu did not go on strike, the non-tribals increased the wages paid to women from Rs 1.25 to Rs 4.00 and for men from Rs 2 to Rs 5 due to the fear of reprisals from the armed squads of the Naxalites.
A timber merchant who lived in the village during a short period in the 1950s managed to get about five acres of the land owned by Chandala Lacchi Reddi's father transferred to his name in the land registers. No one in the village knows whether this merchant really purchased the land or whether he manipulated the register of land rights in his favour. None of the Reddis was aware of this transfer, and the merchant in question never cultivated the land. Lacchi Reddi's father cultivated this land as long as he was alive, and Lacchi Reddi inherited it after his father's death.
In 1966, this merchant, who presently lives in Polavaram, leased out the land for Rs 3,000 for six years to another non-tribal by name of Krishna of Purshothapatnam village in the plains. In 1967, Krishna came to Koruturu to take possession of the land for cultivating chillies. But Lacchi Reddi, who had been cultivating the land, resisted and threatened that he would kill Krishna if he attempted to enter the field.
Krishna appealed to the pedda kapu and the other elders in the village. The Reddis took pity on Krishna, as he had already paid Rs 3,000 for the lease to the merchant who claimed ownership of the land. They decided that Lacchi Reddi should allow Krishna to cultivate about three acres of the land for six years and that Krishna should give preference to the family members of Lacchi Reddi when employing casual labourers. Bothe Krishna and Lacchi Reddi agreed to the conditions imposed by the village elders, and Krishna began cultivating the land. Lacchi Reddi died before the lease period was over, and Lacchi Reddi's widow gave the remaining two acres of land cultivated by her husband on lease to Krishna, as her son Devi Reddi was too young to handle a plough.
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The merchant who claimed ownership of the land sold it to Satyam, the first non-tribal to settle in the village, for Rs 6,000 in 1972, a year before the expiration of the lease period. In 1973, Satyam took possession of the land from Krishna. Lacchi Reddi's widow and other elderly Reddis in the village remained silent spectators when the transfer of land took place, as they did not know the procedure for appealing to the government about the alienation of land. Krishna thereupon developed a grudge against Satyam, as the land had passed from his hands.
To become popular among the Reddis, Krishna suggested that they construct a temple to the Hindu god Sri Rama by raising funds in the village and by collecting Rs 200 for each tobacco-curing barn owned by the non-tribals. He volunteered to contribute the additional amount for building the temple. To prevent Krishna from becoming popular among the Reddis, Satyam, who owns two tobacco-curing barns, refused to contribute the Rs 400 for constructing the temple. This incident further infuriated Krishna.
After failing in this attempt, Krishna continued his search for means of gaining popularity. He found that Konla Jogi Reddi, the sarpanch of the village, was suffering losses in arrack sales because of undermeasurement of the alcohol supplied by the tribal arrack cooperative society. He took Jogi Reddi to Polavaram and asked the president of the arrack cooperative society to correct the measures. When the president of the society refused to correct the measures, Krishna lodged a complaint about him with the excise officials.
When there was no effect even after complaining to the officials, Krishna persuaded Jogi Reddi to stop selling the alcohol supplied by the society. He organized the Reddis and the Koyas in the village into a cooperative to procure and sell liquor illicitly brewed in Kondamodalu village on the other bank of the river. The Reddis persuaded Satyam to participate in the venture also and informally selected Krishna, Satyam, Jogi Reddi, and Karukunda Mutyala Reddi, assigning tasks to each of them. Krishna agreed to contribute the initial investment for procuring the liquor, and he was asked to look after the procurement. Satyam was assigned the task of maintaining the accounts. Mutyala Reddi and Jogi Reddi were to keep the cash, and another Reddi was appointed to sell the liquor procured by this committee. The business went on smoothly for two months, and there was a profit of Rs 3,000 which was distributed among all the tribal families. But when Mutyala Reddi was ill, Satyam and Krishna fell out over the management of the accounts, and the Reddis sided with Krishna. The latter, who had been waiting for an opportunity to humiliate Satyam, drew the Reddis' attention to the Land Transfer Act of 1959 and insti-
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gated them to file a petition of behalf of Chandla Devi Reddi against Satyam for purchasing the land from the former timber merchant.
Around this time, the district collector visited the village. The Reddis submitted a petition to the collector against Satyam and on behalf of Devi Reddi. The collector passed on the petition to the special deputy collector for tribal areas for suitable action. At the beginning of the 1976–77 agricultural year, the villagers prevented Satyam from tilling the land which he had purchased. However, neither the Reddis nor Satyam cultivated the land in that year. Soon after this incident, Devi Reddi received a summons from the special deputy collector. Krishna helped Devi Reddi to engage the services of an advocate to argue his case in the deputy collector's court. The deputy collector's court gave judgement in favour of Devi Reddi and restored the land to him. When I was in the village, Devi Reddi was cultivating the land restored to him, and Satyam had appealed the judgement to a higher court. In 1980 this appeal was still pending, leaving Devi Reddi in possession.
Though the non-tribals employ the Reddis as wage labourers, the relationship between them is not that of a master and servant. They attend each others' marriages and other social functions, and on the whole the social relations between them are cordial. The Reddis approach the non-tribals for advice whenever they have personal problems and take their help in matters connected with the government or other outside non-tribals.
The Future of the Konda Reddis
In the three case studies presented above, I have shown the changes that have occurred in three villages in the past four decades. Similar changes are taking place throughout the Konda Reddi country. The forest policy of the government is a major source of change in the hill settlements, and in the Reddi settlements on the riverbank and other settlements in lower Agency Tracts the principle agents of change are immigrant non-tribals.
To increase the dwindling area of forest in the country, the Forest Department has realigned the boundaries of the reserved forests. In the process, the officials of the Forest Department drew the boundary lines closer to the villages in many places, leaving a smaller area of unreserved forest for general use by the population. In Sukumamidi village of Khammam District, while redemarcating the reserved forest boundary the forest officials included some of the flat land which had been ploughed by the Reddis for the past twenty to twenty-five years
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and prohibited the Reddis cultivating that land. A similar incident took place in Ankampalem village, whose inhabitants are Koyas.
Due to the restriction of the area for podu cultivation and the increase in the population, the cycle of shifting cultivation has shortened, resulting in the total baldness of hill slopes near a few Reddi settlements. For example, all the hill slopes around Thandepalli village have bocome completely bare due to these restrictions. The yield from the podu fields is likely to decrease due to insufficient time given for the regeneration of the bush.
The Forest Department, to meet the raw material requirement of the Andhra Paper Mills and the growing demand for firewood and timber in the markets of the coastal plains, began the extraction of bamboo and timber from the forests of the northern hills on a large scale starting in the early 1960s. The laying of roads in the hills to transport forest produce has broken the isolation of many hill settlements. Today most of the 370 Reddi settlements of this area can be reached by jeep during the dry season.
The state government entered into an agreement with the Andhra Pradesh Rayon Factory in Mulug Taluk of Warangal District to supply eucalyptus wood, its raw material, in sufficient quantities. To honour this commitment, the Forest Department has begun a programme of planting eucalyptus on a large area in the Northern Hills.
Although the work in these plantations provides an alternative source of employment and cash income for the Reddis, the policy of extending plantations is not free from harmful effects on the life-style and economy of the Reddis. The lure of cash income is diverting the Reddis' attention from the podu , as well as the flat land, fields, and this results in a reduction in grain yields. For instance, the Reddis of Bodlanka village have been engaged in forest labour for the past three years, and Pallala Ram Reddi, the sarpanch of the village, told me that the grain yield is falling because most of his kinsmen are paying less attention to their fields than they used to do because of the temptation to earn cash. He further told me that nowadays they have to walk longer distances to collect wild roots and tubers during the lean seasons because the natural forest is cleared in the vicinity of the village to raise plantations of eucalyptus and teak.
Another policy of the government which has seriously affected the food supply of the Reddis in this area is the granting of the right to fell mango trees in the forest to the Godavari Plywood Factory set up in Rampachodavaram. The supply of kernels of mango stones, which are a main source of food for the Reddis during the rainy season, is dwindling due to the felling of this fruit tree on a large scale. The agitated Reddis appealed to the chief minister of the state when he visited Mar-
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adumilli in early 1979. But nothing had happened by the time I left the area in the middle of the year.
To protect the interest of the tribals, in 1917 the British government passed protective legislation prohibiting any transfer of tribal land to non-tribals without the consent of the agent of the government. Similar legislation was enacted by the Nizam's government in 1946 for the tribal areas of the then Hyderabad State. The Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1959 passed a land transfer regulation incorporating the 1917 act, and amended it in 1976 to prohibit any transfer of immovable property in scheduled areas by a non-tribal to another non-tribal.
Though these acts were in force, the non-tribals took advantage of the ignorance of the Reddis and grabbed almost all fertile alluvial land in the villages on the banks of the Godavari River. The process of alienation of land began quite early, and in Kondamodalu village considerable portions of plough land had passed into the hands of non-tribals by the time Fürer-Haimendorf visited these villages in 1941. Today, though most of the land is being cultivated by the non-tribals in the villages, the Koyas and Reddis have become conscious that the land belongs to them.
The condition of the Reddis in Anantaram and Timmalkunta villages in Sattupalli Taluk has worsened because the non-tribal cultivators who settled in these villages became legitimate owners of the land
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which they acquired from the Reddis before the enactment of protective legislation. The Reddis live on the outskirts of both these villages. Most of the adult Reddis have been working as farm servants for the non-tribals from their childhood and are much poorer than their counterparts living in the hills.
The figures in Table 5 on the alienation of land in the district were given to me by the special deputy collector (tribal welfare) of East Godavari District. The table shows the magnitude of the problem of land alienation in the tribal areas of the state.
Out of a total of 5,431 cases of non-tribal occupation of the tribal lands detected in the district up to 1 August 1977, the staff of the special deputy collector completed enquiries in 1,305 cases and filed suo moto suits against the non-tribals in the courts.
In the past the government never seriously implemented these acts to protect the tribals. Also, due to their ignorance a large number of tribals did not succeed in their attempts to resist the alienation of their land. For instance, when the Reddis of Teliberu village of East Godavari District filed petitions about the alienation of land by non-tribals before independence, the then deputy collector of the district did not take suitable action as he suspected that the Reddis were instigated by the nationalists. In the early 1970s, when the Reddis of this village once again filed petitions against the non-tribals, the government officials were under the impression that the Reddis were instigated by the Naxalites, and the cases had not been disposed of by the time I left the area.
The state government became aware of the need for implementing protective legislation in the early 1970s, when Naxalites began increasing their influence among the Reddis in this region, as wells among the tribes of Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Khammam, and some other districts.
The Naxalites organized many tribals against the exploitation of merchants and landlords. Thus, in 1969 they encourage the Reddis, Koyas, and Kammaras of Kondamodalu village and its thirteen hamlets to harvest the paddy fields occupied by non-tribals. This they did and carried away 680 bags of paddy. The police immediately swung into action, arrested large number of tribals, and filed cases against them. Many tribals were kept in jail pending disposal of the cases until 1975 or 1976. However, the government has since filed suo moto suits against the non-tribals of this village for occupying tribal lands in contravention of the Land Transfer Act.
In Kechaluru, another riverbank village inhabited exclusively by Kammaras, a small tribal community, in 1966 a non-tribal grabbed the tribals' land by falsifying documents. When the Kammaras resisted the land grab by killing a non-tribal, the police arrested all the adult
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males in the village and kept them in jail for ten months by refusing them bail. The cases against them dragged on for two years, though cases against the non-tribals for occupying tribal land were filed in the special deputy collector's court. In April 1979, the special deputy collector (tribal welfare) of East Godavari District gave judgement in favour of the Kammaras and restored their land.
Though the government has become active in restoring land to tribals, we do not know to what extent it will succeed, because most non-tribals are economically well off and are employing lawyers to defend their cases, while the tribals have no documents in their possession to prove their claim to the land and do not have the economic resources to employ lawyers to defend their cases.
Though the measures to rehabilitate the tribals were initiated by the government before independence, they were not effective. The efforts te develop them gained momentum from the third Five Year Plan on with the creation of tribal development blocks and the allocation of more funds. By the middle of 1970, a number of institutions were created in the Konda Reddi country for tribal development. During this period, the government laid 256 kilometers of road in the Konda Reddi area, besides setting up 122 primary schools and ashram schools to spread literacy among the Reddis. The state also prepared numerous plans for improving the condition of the Reddis. But lack of will on the part of the political leadership and rampant corruption prevalent at various levels of the bureaucracy have choked the flow of benefits to Reddis and other tribals.
The only ray of hope is the spread of literacy in the younger generation of Reddis due to the functioning of ashram schools. This makes them aware of the world around them and prepares them to accept innovations which may improve their lives. One must wait to see what will happen to the Reddis in the next twenty or thirty years.
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