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The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: A Study of Raikas, Migrant Pastoralists of Rajasthan

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Agrawal, Arun
Date: 1991
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4257
Sector: Grazing
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): pastoralism
decision making
Abstract: "In this case study from the state of Rajasthan in India, I present an account of the life of raika shepherds1. Where appropriate, I draw comparisons with other migrant shepherd groups, but the emphasis in the note is on presenting a coherent picture of the activities of raika shepherd camps during migration. The activities carried out by the raikas in their daily life on their migration cycle comprise a survival system which is well suited to their environment given the constraints under which the raikas live and the problems they face. The strategies they adopt change dynamically in a changing context. However their actions have a clear rationale. Contrary to popular official misconceptions, the movements and daily activities of the raika nomadic groups cannot be explained as random behavior, nor be ascribed to ignorance or lack of intelligence. The major purpose of this note is to contribute to this view through a discussion of decision-making among raikas of Rajasthan. A secondary objective of the note is to look at the interactions between the migrant raikas and the sedentary farmers in the villages on the migration routes of the raikas. "The introduction to the note is a brief sketch of the imperatives behind nomadism in a risky environment. The second chapter introduces the raikas as a group. It deals with the basic features of the raika society, such as their social structure, kinship, and factors influencing migration. In the third chapter I provide information regarding the organization of the shepherd camps during migration. It is in this chapter that I will talk about the interactions of raikas with sedentary populations during their migration. The fourth chapter discusses the economics of raika sheep-herding. The fifth and final chapter is a discussion of the decision-making in the migrating camps. Here I look at the factors behind the distribution of decision-making responsibilities in the camp and the rationality behind this distribution."

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