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Sugarcane Industry UPSC NOTE


Sugarcane producing states

  • India is the second-highest producer of sugarcane in the world after Brazil.

  • The largest producer of sugarcane in India is Maharashtra, which produced over 138 lakh tonnes of sugarcane in 2022-23.

  • Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra together contribute to 80% of the total sugarcane production in India.

Exploitation and marginalization of intra-state migrant workers in sugarcane industry in Maharashtra

  • Intra-State workforce that migrates seasonally from the drought-affected and water-scarce regions of Marathwada to the sugar-belt region of western Maharashtra.

  • Though intra-State migrant workers form the backbone of the sugar cane industry and economic growth, they have remained critically marginalised and oppressed for several decades.

  • The State government has to intervene in the prevalent exploitative structure of recruiting migrant workers in the sugar cane industry filed through the ‘Mukadam’ (labour contractor). 

  • The Mukadam has a contract with sugar factories to supply ‘Koytas’ (labour couples) and takes an advance to pay workers. 

  • The Mukadam system assures sugar factories a supply of a large volume of temporary, cheap, reliable, and efficient workforce (Breman, 1978).

  • Because of eco-political reasons, the Mukadam system remains the focal point; migrant workers are very dependent on the Mukadam.

  • Consequently, it creates adequate space to control migrant workers, violates labour laws, and is unfavourable to establish any relationship between the factory and workers.

  • Inadequate data is the stumbling block in framing meaningful policies for seasonal migrants, especially when women migrants and children are largely invisible and un-enumerated.

    • Hence, a periodic and time-bound enumerating exercise is critical to create a databank of seasonal migrants that is credible.

  • A technology-aided Migration Tracking System (MTS) application was launched in 2022 by the Women and Child Development Department of the Maharashtra government, which was said to be the first-of-its-kind project in the country.

  • The MTS initially focused on seasonal migrants in the tribal districts to enumerate and track children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers at source and destination areas to ensure nutrition, immunisation and early childhood care, and continuity of the Integrated Child Development Services.

  • However, the MTS fails to create a comprehensive picture of seasonally migrating families, their current employment status, wage structure and entitlement coverage. 

    • With expanded scope, the revised MTS can be used in the State’s sugar belt and other seasonal migration corridors to enumerate migrants, understand the dynamics and clearly delineate the specific needs and interventions.

  • Plight of migrant women workers, and ensuring their health, safety and employment in the sugar cane labour market. 

  • In the sugar cane harvesting task, women workers are engaged in strenuous work such as headload cane bundles and carry heavy weight (40 kg-45 kg) on trucks or trolleys, which usually occur late in the evening, resulting in several accidents during the loading process (Oxfam India 2020). 

  • Their work adversely impacts their body, causing musculoskeletal disorders and several gynaecological issues. 

  • UNESCO noted that early and forced marriages among migrants cause problems for adolescent girls.

  • Resulting in early pregnancies (15-17 years), deliveries in the absence of a trained birth attendant, frequent childbirth, no exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and many other problems. 

  • Many studies have reported recurring violence and sexual harassment cases linked to the Mukadam and male workers. 

  • Despite multiple vulnerabilities among seasonally migrating women, the State government has not adopted any adequate long-term intervention strategy.

  • The Right to Education of children who accompany their parents to sugar cane fields is violated blatantly. 

  • There are no sufficient alternative schooling models, which in turn affect their education.

  • They are probably forced into child labour. 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Sugarcane Industry UPSC NOTE
Sugarcane Industry UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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