Main Occupations Jobs during Indus Civilization2
Continued from part 1
To build these systems, a despotic, centralized state emerged. This state was able to suppress the social status of thousands of people and harness their labor as slaves. It is very difficult to tally this hypothesis of the so-called Indus civilization. There is no evidence of kings, slaves, or forced mobilization of labor.
It is often assumed that intensive agricultural production requires dams and canals. This assumption is easily refuted. Rice farmers produce significant agricultural surpluses from terraced, hillside rice paddies throughout Asia. This resulted not from slavery but from the accumulated labor of many generations of people.
Instead of building canals, Indus civilization people may have built water diversion schemes. These schemes were like terrace agriculture, which could be elaborated by generations of small-scale labor investments.
In addition, it is known that Indus civilization people practiced rainfall harvesting. This was a powerful technology that was brought to fruition by classical Indian civilization. However, this was nearly forgotten in the 20th century. The Indus civilization people, like all peoples in South Asia, built their lives around the monsoon. This was a weather pattern in which the bulk of a year's rainfall occurs in a four-month period.
Archaeologists discovered a series of massive reservoirs, hewn from solid rock and designed to collect rainfall at a recently discovered Indus civilization city in western India. These reservoirs would have been capable of meeting the city's needs during the dry season.
The joint family system was a common characteristic of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. In such a family, the members of a family pooled their resources to maintain the family and invest in business ventures. The system ensured younger members were trained and employed in the family business. While the older and disabled persons would be supported by the family.
The system of preventing the agricultural land from being split ensured higher yield. This was due to the benefits of scale. The system curbed members from taking initiative because of the support system and family or work.
Ancient India possessed a number of other forms of engaging in business or collective activity. These existed simultaneously with the family-run business and individually owned business enterprises. These were the gana, pani, puga, vrata, sangha, nigama and sreni. Nigama, pani and sreni refer most often to economic organizations of merchants, craftspeople and artisans, and perhaps even para-military entities.
In particular, the sreni was a complex organizational entity. This entity was very much similar to the modern day corporations, being used in India from around the 8th century BC until around the 10th century AD. The use of such entities in ancient India was widespread. This included virtually every kind of business, political and municipal activity.
The sreni was a separate legal entity. The sreni had the ability to hold property separately from its owners, construct its own rules for governing the behavior of its members. Further, it could also contract, sue and be sued in its own name.
Some ancient sources such as Laws of Manu VIII as well as Chanakya's Arthashastra have also laid down rules for lawsuits between two or more sreni. Some sources make reference to a government official called as Bhandagarika. These Bhandagarika worked as an arbitrator for disputes amongst sreni from at least the 6th century BC onwards.
There were around 18 to 150 sreni at various times in ancient India. These covered both trading and craft activities. This level of specialization of occupations is indicative of a developed economy in which the sreni played a critical role. Some sreni could have over 1000 members as there were apparently no upper limits on the number of members.
The sreni had a considerable degree of centralized management. The headman of the sreni represented the interests of the sreni in the king's court in many official business matters. The headman could also bind the sreni in contracts, set the conditions of work within the sreni, often received a higher salary. Additionally, he was also the administrative authority within the sreni.
The headman was often selected via an election by the members of the sreni. He could also be removed from power by the general assembly. The headman often ran the enterprise with two to five executive officers. These officers were also elected by the assembly.