When PIDT began to work in Ghazipur District, UP in 1980, the society was highly stratified and feudal in nature with about half of the population entirely dependent for its livelihood on work as daily labourers
on land owned almost entirely by Rajputs, Bhumihars and other high caste communities. These landlord castes also owned most of the local grocery and general provisions stores and were in control of money lending operations. For a full day's hard toil, the harbaha (ploughman) was paid only one kilogram of the cheapest available grain, half a kilogram of sattu and jaggery water. For paddy transplantation and harvesting, the wage was around two and a half rupees a day.

The practice of untouchability was acutely prevalent, with even the scheduled castes maintaining sub-castes that practiced untouchability amongst each other. The lowest in this hierarchy would not even sit facing the direction of a higher sub-caste for fear, shame, and low self-worth.

Through PIDT's efforts to change the people's consciousness and organize them into collectives willing to assert their rights, this bleak picture has been substantively altered. Now, even upper and lower castes sit together, drink from the same glass, and discuss development issues. Women have confronted the police for attempting to block their access to water and have challenged men against many oppressive superstitions, such as witchcraft and its prosecution. Back