Clan, kinship, and panchayat justice among the Jats of western Uttar Pradesh.
Sanjay Mann was kind enough to send this abstrct
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POPLINE Document Number: 074051
The Hindu Jats who inhabit the Muzaffarnagar and Meerut districts in western Uttar Pradesh State, India consider themselves to be egalitarian. Clans whose members typically marry outside the clan make up this caste. The different clans are located in separate villages all of which constitute a clan territory (khaps). Theoretically marriage has no effect on the status of the equally ranked clans, but it does result in a ranked relation between 2 families or local descent groups. The wife receiving family ranks higher than the wife giving family. To preserve the equality of clans and khaps, the Jats disapprove of certain marriages. They prohibit 2 families from exchanging brides in a reversible pattern; marriages between blood or affinal relatives; and marriages between a boy and a girl who share any of the clans of their father, mother, paternal grandmother, or maternal grandmother. An anthropologist analyzes why traditional councils (panchayats) could not agree on the principles of hierarchy and equality in reference to marriage. The dispute began when a boy from the Balyan khap who lived in Goela village married a girl from the Malik khap who lived in Baral village. The Maliks from Baral gave the Maliks from Goela who were guests of the bridegroom small gifts which made the Maliks from Goela feel awkward since the gifts were intended for the in-laws who were Balyans. This gesture implicated that the Maliks from Goela were superior. This destabilized the ideal Jat social landscape. The inability of the panchayats to resolve an internal dispute set their limits. Yet the same panchayats were able to mobilize on the behalf of farmers who called for economic benefits from the state. In fact, the clan headmen forced the state to begin a dialogue. Finally, contrary to their own beliefs, the panchayats are not truly democratic.