Changing patron-client relations favourable to new opportunities for landless labourers in rural Bangladesh
Recent agrarian changes such as the casualisation of employment, an overall decrease in agricultural employment, the lack of agricultural labourers in the peak seasons, and increasing non-farm activities by landowners have resulted in declining patron-client relationships between landless labourers and landowning employers. Drawing on a local NGO's income-generating programme, this paper explores how landless labourers avail themselves of an opportunity given under changing labour buyer-seller relationships, and how the NGO's intervention influences the relationships between landed and landless groups. The case study shows that, combined with proper intervention, the outcome of such agrarian changes can be transformed from increased vulnerability into an enabling environment for landless labourers to diversify their livelihoods and so achieve upward economic mobility through the new opportunity. Furthermore, when the intervention for the landless also stimulates the livelihood diversification of landowners, a new equal relationship emerges between the two groups.