The Dubla of India
Long ago, the cultural prosperity of Gujarat State attracted people from all the surrounding states. Gujarat became a target of the Maratha tribes, who made annual raids to the region for many years. Eventually, the Muslims fortified the area east of Surat in order to reap its economic benefits. It is believed that the Dubla moved farther south due to pressure from the Muslims.
By 1817, the British had risen to power, and attempted to mend what the Maratha had left behind. At that time, farmland was dispersed among the settlers. A long period of oppression by the Rajput and other outlaws brought the Dubla to such indebtedness that they were sold as slaves.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Once slavery had been abolished, the number of Dubla agricultural workers who did not own land increased. The loss of slave labor was a great setback for the landlords. Since this changeover from the bondage of servitude to the freedom of day-laborers, the government has given financial support to help improve the Dubla's social position.
Today, the Dubla are a very stubborn people, perhaps because they were considered inferior servants for such a long time. They now work as sharecroppers, servants, and casual laborers. However, due to a lack of sufficient and consistent employment, many do migrant work in order to survive. They may spend seven months each year at brickyards near Bombay, taking their whole families with them to work. Since most of the Dubla still do not possess their own land, they remain the poorest of the farmers. The villagers depend on shopkeepers for the sale of their agricultural products and purchase of consumer goods.
Dubla villages are located along small rivers near other Bhil villages. The Dubla are among the poorest in the village, and they typically live in one-room, mud-brick houses with extremely low thatch roofs. With government aid, some have been able to obtain tile roofs, and the more prosperous even have houses of wood or brick. Their huts are not built in orderly rows, but are simply clustered together. The average number of occupants per hut has increased to the point that it is no longer possible to shelter all members of the household from the winter cold and monsoon rains. Some years they are forced to move into neighboring territories because the floods take away their homes. These villagers have very little contact—if any—with those living in cities.
The Dubla are a meek and stubborn people, worn out by their hard lifestyle and fondness of liquor. Some have realized that a proper education can help them escape "backward village life." However, school attendance remains low, and literacy is still only about ten percent.
What Are Their Beliefs?
What Are Their Needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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