Veth (or Vethi or Vetti-chakiri, from Sanskrit visti), also known as Begar (from Persian), was a system of forced labour practised in pre-independence India, in which members of populace were compelled to perform unpaid work for the government.
In the Maratha Confederacy, Veth-begar was practised on a wide scale during the Peshwa's rule. Certain groups of people, such as Brahmins, landowners, and Kasars (brass-workers) of Saswad region, were exempted from veth-begar.
The system continued to be practised in the princely states during the British Raj. For example, in the Mewar State, peasants (including those from the upper-caste) were forced to engage in begar. As part of veth, the peasants and low-caste people were forced to supply water to the ruler's family; construct buildings, roads, and dams; and carry dead and wounded soldiers. The British government exempted Christians from veth-begaar.
Indian peasants would be forced to serve British officers and civilians transport luggage and perform chores for their benefit, without payment. Denial of veth could mean imprisonment or fines. It was eradicated following the efforts of Indian nationalists.
- P. A. Gavali (1988). Society and Social Disabilities Under the Peshwas. National Publishing House. p. 136. ISBN 978-81-214-0157-9.
- Ghanshyam Shah (2004). Social Movements in India: A Review of Literature. SAGE Publications. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-81-321-1977-7.
- Harshad R. Trivedi (1993). Tribal Land Systems: Land Reform Measures and Development of Tribals. Concept Publishing Company. p. 312. ISBN 978-81-7022-454-9.
- Amita Baviskar (2004). In the Belly of the River: Tribal Conflicts Over Development in the Narmada Valley. Oxford University Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-19-567136-0.
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