Interview with Mekala Kundalala, a Mala labourer, and Manohar Reddy, agriculturist and small-time contractor: Allur village, Koilakuntla mandal, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh
Duration: 00:31:37; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 28.618; Saturation: 0.059; Lightness: 0.585; Volume: 0.223; Cuts per Minute: 0.032; Words per Minute: 104.089
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
Mekala Kurandala, labourer, Allur Village, Kurnool District
Elaborates an aspect of the labour market, wherein labourers borrow money in advance from a landlord in exchange for their labour for a certain period of time. These borrowings are linked mostly to their consumption needs. In case they need more money, they often borrow it from the person for whom they are working. This is often referred to as bonded labour in the region. He is part of an increasing trend in Andhra Pradesh where they send their children to a school.
Manohar Reddy, Agriculturalist in Allur Village, Koilakuntla Mandal, Kurnool District
An agriculturalist who owns land and has also invested in the liquor business. He complains about the problems in Agriculture. He has invested in infrastructure equipment (Tippers) as part of the contracts that he has taken up, but has lost heavily. He is bitter about the rising wages. He says that the factional violence has decreased because of rising wages and now people are sending their children to wages. They borrow at 24% per annum for agricultural purposes. His diversification into tipper transportation equipment is now losing money.
The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
INTERVIEWER: Are you educated?
INTERVIEWER: Is this your village?
Speaker: I came here 15 years ago.
INTERVIEWER: How old where you when you came here?
Speaker: I am 40 years old now.
INTERVIEWER: Why did you come to this village?
Speaker: There was no work in our village. We came here because of difficulties.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have any land here?
Speaker: No we don't own anything.
INTERVIEWER: You are employed here? For how long?
Speaker: Yes for 10 years.
INTERVIEWER: Why did you agree to do this job?
Speaker: I agreed because we get a yearly payment.
INTERVIEWER: How much do you earn now?
INTERVIEWER: What all work do you do?
Speaker: I do the sweeping, farming, planting crops and other work.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have to take care of the cows as well?
Speaker: Just the sweeping. I don't milk the cows.
INTERVIEWER: Where are your wife and children?
Speaker: Yes. I live close by.
INTERVIEWER: What work do they do?
Speaker: They too farm.
INTERVIEWER: Do all of you get a salary of Rs.34,000? Or is it just for you?
Speaker: Just for me. They get paid daily wages.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have a white Ration card?
INTERVIEWER: For how long have you had it?
Speaker: About 7 years.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have an Arogyashri card?
Speaker: I am not educated so I don't know. I think I have the card.
INTERVIEWER: It's the card that you can get yourself treated with if you are unwell.
Speaker: I haven't gone for drought work (NREGA). My family went. They might have got it.
INTERVIEWER: Not drought work. If you are unwell you can go to the hospital and treat yourself with that card.
Speaker: No. I don't know about that card.
INTERVIEWER: Is your salary enough or do you take loans?
Speaker: My children are studying so I have some expenditure.
INTERVIEWER: What are your children studying?
Speaker: My daughter has completed her 12th Standard and she is training to be a nurse for two years.
INTERVIEWER: Where is your daughter studying?
Speaker: In Nandayal.
INTERVIEWER: Does she travel from here every day or does she live in a hostel?
Speaker: She lives in a hostel.
INTERVIEWER: What is your caste?
INTERVIEWER: You’ve other children?
Speaker: One son has failed one of his subjects in standard 10 and he will be attempting it again. And my second son lives with us. He studies in the 2nd standard.
INTERVIEWER: What do you do when you need money for emergencies? Do they give your salary in the beginning or towards the end of the year?
Speaker: I take it whenever I need it.
INTERVIEWER: Do you take it monthly?
Speaker: I take money as an when I need it.
INTERVIEWER: What if you need it for any functions or to buy anything?
Speaker: They give me loans up to Rs.10,000 whenever I need it.
INTERVIEWER: From where do you take the loans?
Speaker: From my employers. They will consider it a part of my salary if I am unable to repay.
INTERVIEWER: If you need money you go and ask your employer, that’s your salary. If you need more money do you borrow it on interest?
Speaker: No not on interest. We don't have the means to pay.
INTERVIEWER: What if you need more money?
Speaker: We don't need too much money. If it is a desperate situation I borrow from relatives.
INTERVIEWER: If you take an advance payment do you have to pay any interest?
Speaker: No. They don't take any interest. Even if they give Rs.10,000 in cash they don't take any interest.
INTERVIEWER: So take it in advance instead of the month end?
Speaker: Yes, they give it in advance and they give it whenever I ask them for it.
INTERVIEWER: Are you part of any saving schemes?
Speaker: Yes, I am a part of the Podupu Lakshmi.
INTERVIEWER: Have you taken any loans from them?
Speaker: Yes I have, and we pay installments.
INTERVIEWER: Do you get an Indirammaillu?
INTERVIEWER: They didn't sanction one in your name?
Speaker: We came here 15 years ago so they haven’t sanctioned it to us here but they have in my village where I have built a house.
INTERVIEWER: You have a house in your own village?
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever go to your native village?
Speaker: Yes, I go 5-6 times in a year.
INTERVIEWER: Who is there in your village?
Speaker: My mother.
INTERVIEWER: Does she do any work?
Speaker: No sir, she is very old.
INTERVIEWER: Who supports her?
Speaker: If there is a lot of difficulty I send her some money. Otherwise my younger brother sends her money.
INTERVIEWER: Does she stay there alone?
Speaker: Yes, I have asked her to come and live with me but she doesn't.
INTERVIEWER: What have you done with the money that you have borrowed from Podupu Lakshmi? Have you bought anything with the loan?
Speaker: No we used it mostly for education and other expenses.
INTERVIEWER: How much money have you borrowed?
Speaker: Rs.7,000. We pay the monthly installments.
INTERVIEWER: How much can you borrow?
Speaker: It depends on what they give. Now they give Rs.7000 and the next time they give a thousand more.
INTERVIEWER: What are your monthly installments?
INTERVIEWER: Apart from this are you paying installments for anything else?
Speaker: No. We haven’t taken from anyone else.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have a TV in your house?
Speaker: We don't have a TV. Apart from a fan, we don't have anything else.
INTERVIEWER: Has the government given you a gas connection?
INTERVIEWER: What do you use Kerosene or firewood?
Speaker: We mostly use husk or firewood.
INTERVIEWER: What's your monthly electricity bill?
Speaker: Rs. 70 for two months.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have a phone?
Speaker: Yes, I have a cell phone.
INTERVIEWER: When did you buy it?
Speaker: I bought it a year ago.
INTERVIEWER: Why did you buy it?
Speaker: To speak to relatives.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have a bank account?
Speaker: No sir.
INTERVIEWER: Then how do you get your Podupu Lakshmi loans? Do they give you cash?
Speaker: They give it to us only if 10 people sign it.
INTERVIEWER: Do the Podupu Lakshmi people give you cash or does it come into your bank account?
Speaker: To the bank.
INTERVIEWER: Then you should have a bank account right?
Speaker: No that’s separate. There are 10 people in the group. All the 10 have to sign and each one takes a different amount.
INTERVIEWER: So all of you together have a bank account and you don't. You wife goes to the 100 days work scheme right. Does her payment not come through a bank?
Speaker: I don't know.
INTERVIEWER: How do they make the payments to your wife? Do they give you cash?
Speaker: They make her sign and they give the amount.
INTERVIEWER: Do they give you cash?
Speaker: No it we have to get it from the bank.
INTERVIEWER: Then your wife should have a bank account?
Speaker: No we don’t have.
INTERVIEWER: If you don't have a bank account how are you going to get payments?
Speaker: They write the address down. If we show that to the bank they give the money.
INTERVIEWER: Is it a card?
INTERVIEWER: How much expenditure do you incur on your cell phone?
Speaker: Rs.20 a month. I make calls only when required.
INTERVIEWER: Have you taken any loans from micro finance companies like Sharemoolah?
Speaker: We took one loan from them. We heard that they shut so we haven’t bothered to repay the loans after that.
INTERVIEWER: How much loan did you take?
Speaker: Rs.15,000. We repaid Rs.7500 and the rest they did not ask so we did not give.
INTERVIEWER: What did you do with that money?
Speaker: It was for my daughter’s education. Also summers are difficult. It is difficult to run the household. We used some for household expenses and the rest for my daughter's education.
INTERVIEWER: What were your monthly installments for Sharemoolah?
INTERVIEWER: You took Rs.15,000. What was your repayment period?
Speaker: 20 months. We paid half the amount over 7 months.
INTERVIEWER: Will you pay them if there were to come back?
Speaker: It’s our loan. How can we not repay.
INTERVIEWER: So you haven’t taken loans from anyone else after that?
INTERVIEWER: If you don't want the salary can you go away?
Speaker: I will stay.
INTERVIEWER: If you don't want to work here, will your employer object?
Speaker: They won’t mind.
INTERVIEWER: Have you stopped work here and worked elsewhere?
Speaker: I haven't. Sometimes I don't work if I am unwell. Then I come back. I can go when I want.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have buffaloes at home?
Speaker: No we don't have anything.
INTERVIEWER: Do you stay in your own house?
Speaker: No we stay in a rented house.
INTERVIEWER: What is your rent?
Speaker: It’s Rs.2,400 for a year.
INTERVIEWER: Who does the house belong to?
Speaker: It belongs to this lady from my own Mala community.
INTERVIEWER: Is there a separate area for the Malas. Does everyone live together?
Speaker: No we all stay together.
INTERVIEWER: Do people from different castes live together?
Speaker: All my caste people live together in one area.
INTERVIEWER: Your village does not have any other name?
Speaker: Agriculture also is very good. They give priority to new experiments.
INTERVIEWER: What is your name?
Speaker: Manohar Reddy.
INTERVIEWER: What do you do?
Speaker: I do agriculture and I have tippers (tractors).
INTERVIEWER: Where do you work?
Speaker: At a 4 lane road construction site near Kurnool.
INTERVIEWER: So you have drivers who operate it?
INTERVIEWER: Do you do any finance work (money lending)?
Speaker: I have taken loans from Indugalayam.
INTERVIEWER: Do you do any finance work (money lending) yourself?
Speaker: No. I don't have that much money. I come from a middle class family.
INTERVIEWER: How much land do you own?
Speaker: I own 6 acres.
INTERVIEWER: What do you grow?
Speaker: I grow rice and lentils. Last year I had planted a rice crop. This year the demand for rice has come down. It is not profitable. Last year a 70kgs sack sold for Rs.700-800. It doesn't work out. So this season we planted sorghum. Sorghum sells for Rs. 1500-2000 a sack. Even if we get a bad rate we can sell it at Rs.1200.
INTERVIEWER: How many crop seasons do you have in a year?
Speaker: If people have irrigation facilities then they can grow two crops cycles i.e. Kharif and Rabi. Actually we have a lot of electricity problems. All our hard work is going to a waste. Usually, do you see the 4 inch pipes? For that if you attach 100 pipes with an investment of Rs.5 lakh you irrigate 10 acres. Now we can't even irrigate 2 acres because we don’t have sufficient electricity.
INTERVIEWER: Now in Kurnool there a lot of faction politics?
Speaker: It was there 10 years ago. Now people are educated and there are no people who have grudges against anyone. People have forgotten about it.
INTERVIEWER: There are a lot of people who established successful businesses by taking factions to their advantage?.
Speaker: That’s just 1 or 2% people. Kurnool has been stuck with that name. Actually it not that bad. In Kurnool there are only 50-60 families.
INTERVIEWER: So you never had it in this region?
Speaker: In this region, in the neighbouring village called Gulladurathy. There were two or three murders there. In Koillkunta taluk, this village is a model village. There have been no factions here since at all.
INTERVIEWER: Are there any Micro Finance companies here?
Speaker: They had come. And in between Chandrababu (Naidu) gave a statement asking people not to pay. From then on they haven’t been coming to the village. It is a good thing.
INTERVIEWER: Have you taken as well?
Speaker: No I haven’t. Actually they took Rs.4 in interest. People did not know that and took them for their needs. To repay the money was a difficult thing.
INTERVIEWER: What do you do when you need money for agriculture or your business?
Speaker: I my village there are some rich families, the big land lords who had 100 acres of land. They usually lend at Rs.1.50 interest a month.
INTERVIEWER: That low? Are they your relatives?
Speaker: They are not my relatives. People usually give if you repay the loan on time.
INTERVIEWER: Isn't Rs.1.50 very less? Usually people take a minimum of Rs.2 right?
Speaker: With Rs.1.50 itself people repaying on time is a big deal. With Rs.2% is usually 24%, that becomes difficult to pay. Farmers cannot pay 24%.
INTERVIEWER: Have you taken bank loans?
Speaker: Yes, I have taken crop loans for one lakh. The interest adds up to Rs.16, 000. I got the notice from the bank today.That is close to 14%. Actually we have to pay within a year. It has been one year and a month. Usually based on the crops we pay it two or three months after the due date. If we are unable to pay we even take 2 years to repay the loan. The interest keeps accruing.
INTERVIEWER: So you take loans every year compulsorily?
Speaker: Yes every year. We repay and keep borrowing.
INTERVIEWER: Do have tippers right. Then why do you need loans?
Speaker: The tippers are a side business. There is no fixed income from that and we started it because we have to keep ourselves occupied. We have bought 6 tippers. There was an accident two months after I bought it. There are a lot of risks. There is not much of an income from that.
INTERVIEWER: Did you have any other business before you bought the tippers?
Speaker: I mostly did agriculture. I ventured to buy tippers in 2001. It was a field I was familiar with.
INTERVIEWER: So you started with two and now you have six?
Speaker: Yes, first I bought two and had 22 trailers. But in between there were a lot of losses. There were accidents; there was no work, repairs etc. It's mainly the problem with labour. We can make an investment. They are unreliable.
INTERVIEWER: So you say that you have only 6 acres of land. How were you able to buy so many vehicles?
Speaker: See we used to take loans and then repay them.
INTERVIEWER: So you had no issues with getting capital?
Speaker: Sometimes it is a problem but we manage.
INTERVIEWER: Did you take the loans from finance companies?
Speaker: Take a look at me. I wanted to buy 6 vehicles. So if we pay around Rs.6 lakh the rest can be financed through a loan.
INTERVIEWER: What I am saying is that for you to get 5-6lakh you need to have other sources of income.
Speaker: I don’t have any other property. My father has 10-12 cows and he supplies milk. We usually try and do things that we are familiar with.
INTERVIEWER: So you get vehicle finance and you had 12 vehicles in the past.
Speaker: We had 22 trailers. At that time it all cost 15 lakhs. We need to depend on labour for their maintenance and they are unreliable. It is profitable if it is done right. We don’t have people we can rely on. It goes all over the place and we don’t have control over what happens.
INTERVIEWER: Now you live here and run your business?
Speaker: One of my relatives called K.V.Subba Reddy is there in the same field. Three partners own more than 200 vehicles.
INTERVIEWER: Do you work with them?
Speaker: No. They help if I need some support. They are my guarantors.
INTERVIEWER: So you live here and your vehicles go towards Kurnool?
Speaker: I just returned from there.
INTERVIEWER: For agriculture, do you do and work in the fields?
Speaker: Yes. I have a tractor of my own.
INTERVIEWER: Do you rent out the tractor?
INTERVIEWER: How much rent do you get?
Speaker: For a year about 2 lakhs.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have driver for it?
Speaker: I work only when they plant the rice crop in the planting season. It lies idle at other times. In the planting season the rents are good.
INTERVIEWER: Are you the driver?
Speaker: Yes, me and another person. I put the diesel and take care of the maintenance and the drivers operate it.
INTERVIEWER: So do you have a partner with your brother for your business?
Speaker: My brother is an employee at the RTPP (Power Generation Plant) in Dharamvaram. Usually he does not come here.
INTERVIEWER: So you are the only one from your generation who is in this village? You are only two brothers?
INTERVIEWER: Do you have any sisters?
Speaker: I have one sister.
INTERVIEWER: Where does she live?
Speaker: This village itself.
INTERVIEWER: How many children do you have?
Speaker: I have two children.
INTERVIEWER: What are they studying?
Speaker: One is in his sixth and one is his fourth standard at the Keshava Reddy School in Nandayala.
INTERVIEWER: How far is the school from here?
Speaker: It’s about 80 kilometers from here.
INTERVIEWER: Is it a boarding school?
Speaker: Yes, they stay in the hostel.
INTERVIEWER: Why have you put them into a boarding school at such a young age?
Speaker: We earn for them and their education. The government schools are bad. We need to put them wherever they will get a good education.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have a ration card? Is it a white card?
INTERVIEWER: Do you have an Arogyasri card?
INTERVIEWER: Have you ever used it?
Speaker: I haven't. In 2005 my father’s heart rate reduced and he had to get a pace maker put. But at that time were farming on leased some land and had some money with us. There was no Arogyasri then. We applied for money under the chief minister’s fund it but did not come through. We spent close to 4 lakhs. We did not have sufficient rains then. We have had god rains only in the past 3-4 years. We had a drought before that. There were floods in these areas two years ago.
INTERVIEWER: How many acres of land have you taken on lease?
Speaker: I farm on around 50 acres apart from my own land.
INTERVIEWER: What are the lease rates?
Speaker: It used to be much less before but now they have increased. After white chickpeas were introduced we sold a quintal for Rs5-6000. So because of that lease amount for an acre of land increased to Rs.10-14,000.
INTERVIEWER: How much did you give?
Speaker: Around Rs.1600-2000. I paid up to Rs.6000 and then stopped.
INTERVIEWER: So you made profits then?
Speaker: Yes. It’s difficult now.
INTERVIEWER: Now you haven’t taken even a single acre on lease?
Speaker: No I haven’t. I am concentrating on my side business.
INTERVIEWER: How much land do the big farmers in your village own?
Speaker: About 200 acres. There is a person called Bhaskar Reddy who is my relative. There is another person called Arikatla Ramireddy. These two families that are the biggest landlords in this village. They also help other villages. They are big families and are financially stable.
INTERVIEWER: Are they farmers or do they have other businesses?
Speaker: They are farmers. They have recently started operating crusher machines. Bhaskar Reddy has opened a dairy farm.
INTERVIEWER: So is there any one from your village that has established a successful business?
Speaker: People are mostly farmers. There are very few people who have gone out and made money in the real estate business.
INTERVIEWER: What about contracts?
Speaker: There are not many. People here like agriculture. People who have cows are making good money. People get Rs.15 lakh payments once in 15 days.
INTERVIEWER: How many cows do you need to have to make that kind if money.
Speaker: I am talking about all the cows in the village. There are about a 1000 cows here. There is the Vijaya Diary. All the milk goes to a single diary. Currently we produce the most milk in Rayalaseema.
INTERVIEWER: How many cows do you have?
Speaker: I have three cows.
INTERVIEWER: How much money do you make on each cow?
Speaker: About 15% expenditure goes on the cows. It gives 10 liters of milk a day. We get Rs.20 a liter So we get Rs.200. Out of that Rs.100 goes into maintenance. We say about a hundred rupees.
INTERVIEWER: So you get an income of about Rs.10,000 on all your cows?
Speaker: Yes. All the three cows don't produce milk all the time. There are some problems sometimes and only one cow may give.
INTERVIEWER: So what do you do with the money you get? Are there many people who run tippers like you?
Speaker: Not many. Only about 4 people.
INTERVIEWER: Then what do you invest in?
Speaker: Our agriculture income we invest on our families and children. Even if I run the household from the profits I make on the cows, the money I make from agriculture is spent on my children.