For around six months a year, once the monsoons come to an end, sugarcane cutters in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra leave home in search of work. “My father had to do this, so did I and so will my son,” says Ashok Rathod, who is from Adgaon, but currently lives in Aurangabad. He belongs to the Banjara community (listed as Other Backward Classes in the state). Many of the sugarcane cutters in this region belong to such marginalised groups.

The seasonal migration is a result of a lack of opportunities in their own villages. When entire families move, children who have to migrate are unable to continue their education.

Sugar and politics are closely connected in Maharashtra. Owners of almost every sugar factory are directly involved in politics, making use of the ready vote-bank in the form of workers who depend on them for their livelihood.

“They own the factories, they run the government, everything is in their hands,” says Ashok.

But there is no improvement in the condition of the workers. “They can construct a hospital [...] People are just sitting around during the half season, they can put 500 of them to work [...] But no. They just won’t do it,” he adds.

This film tells the story of farmers and agricultural labourers who migrate to cut sugarcane and the challenges they have to face.

The film was facilitated through a grant from the Global Challenges Research Fund in association with the University of Edinburgh.

Watch: Droughtlands

Omkar Khandagale

Omkar Khandagale is a Pune-based documentary filmmaker and cinematographer, who explores themes of family, inheritance, and memories in his work.

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Aditya Thakkar

Aditya Thakkar is a documentary filmmaker, sound designer and musician. He runs Fireglo Media, an end to end production house which works in the advertising sector.

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Text Editor : Sarbajaya Bhattacharya

Sarbajaya Bhattacharya is a Senior Assistant Editor at PARI. She is an experienced Bangla translator. Based in Kolkata, she is interested in the history of the city and travel literature.

Other stories by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya