Indebted by Dispossession

Although Marxists have long noted the fact that debt has a tendency to generate land loss, I “reverse” the chain of causality by focusing on how dispossession leads to a sharp rise in household debt. I show how rising indebtedness is segmented along caste lines, with usurious moneylenders hailing almost entirely from the feudal-era revenue collecting caste (Reddies) and debtors being largely from the former “untouchable” castes. Land loss and the lack of opportunity in the neoliberal economy thus pushes the lower strata into a debt trap.