North Indian banjaras: Their evolution as transporters

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35 Scopus citations


Banjaras have been visible on the Indian scene for more than seven hundred years. While orders have crumbled, these nomadic communities have demonstrated their versatility by surviving several onslaughts against their way of life. Primarily military transporters during the turbulent mediaeval age, they endured the effects of a peace that had pre-empted their livelihood. Attempts to resume their original profession as goods carriers failed in the face of technological improvements in transportation. In the nineteenth century, Banjara tandas, confronted with extinction, evolved modes of adaptation which featured permanent settling, criminality, and the development of the draft oxen trade. Through emphasis of strengths and alterations of lifestyle, they entered the twentieth century with renewed vigour. In the modern period, motorized transport posed the latest challenge. At first oblivious to this innovation, Banjaras quickly accepted it when it underwent suitable modification. For the past two decades, they have profitably employed the long platform truck to continue trading in oxen. A hard-working people, Banjaras have had to contend with public hostility directed at their unconventionally and legendary lawlessness. Yet in spite of this estrangement and the changes induced by repeated threats to their welfare, they have successfully reconciled a desire to preserve their self-image with the need for a useful livelihood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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