Kerala Binary : Us and Them by Anamika

Published in Countercurrents.org on 28 April, 2016

 

MIGRANT_LABOURERS

The journey from Kerala to Guwahati had always been eventful for me. This time it was the mid semester vacation, the train was Vivek express and I was travelling alone for the first time. As soon as I got into the 3rd AC compartment from Palakkad, I felt suffocated. The train is usually filled with migrant laborers from Assam, Bengal and Orissa. Whenever I get into these trains I use to think about the ways in which we deal with these workers coming from far. There is the

stereotypical fear about them looting us, or may be behaving badly with us.

There were many passengers who got into the train from my station.”Because of these uncultured Bengali dogs, we never get seat”, wailed a young army personnel who got into the train. I just thought how easily we could define us cultured and them as dogs. How easily the cataloging was done. How easily we were us and them the other? Somehow I managed to get into my seat only to find out that it was pre occupied. I was the only girl in the whole compartment and it seemed a bit strange and scary- with all the unfamiliar faces. I poked the guy who was sleeping; he looked like one from northeast. He was young, I shouted at him, may be to prove myself and to others out there (who were sleeping) that I am brave and don’t mess with me.

He went to the upper berth where his friend was sleeping. Next day morning I woke up quite late only to find almost everyone awake. The guy whom I scolded yesterday and two of his friends were waiting for me to get up so that they could sit. I brushed, cleaned myself and came back. The three had already brought tea for me and that was the beginning of a friendship.

Sitting opposite to my seats were three laborers from New Jaipalguri. Two young men and an old matured looking man named Ranjo da. I slowly started talking with them to realize their working conditions and salary. Most of them have an agriculture background. They have huge debts, and Kerala offers them a much stable and better working condition than home, he said. He was working in construction sector. There are many contractors who bring them in bulk and then the process just continues. “This is the first time in two years that I am travelling back”, said him.

On the side berth was Ajmal from Assam. A middle aged man with long beard, he was working in the fish market in Alleppey. He works from morning till afternoon he said, is paid around 1000 a day , and he has his own puri stand setup from evening.

Though everything seems to be really good from one side the stories they shared were quite sad. The living conditions for most of them were pathetic, many had to live in the half constructed building and diseases once affected by one spread easily. They also had complaints about how the Malayalees treat them, how they are accused for minor thefts and how people around always give a strange look while travelling.

Ranjo da also narrated the story of a young man from Bihar who had a serious injury and was sent back without any compensation by the company. Due to Illiteracy and unawareness and fear of the owners they never complain.

The irony here is that according to the report of national sample survey organization, Kerala is one of the states with highest unemployment and it is in the same state that a heavy flow of other state laborers happen. A study by ‘GIFT’ shows that 30% of these workers work for all 7 days of the day.

Somewhere these people reminded me of what Michael Sandel said about the market society, wherein everything is just for sale. It is more like business rule over relations and everyone become commodities. And nothing least be it human compassion is out for sale. The journey was an introspection of the self. I thought of the way I was afraid on seeing them, how easily I judged them. But then when I started talking, how the fear vanished, how the compassion came, how easily was I able to relate to them, their worries and how their tragedies became my personal tragedies. It was no more ‘them’ speaking’; but ‘us’. And it was beautiful.

Anamika is a second year student of Journalism and mass communication at English and Foreign Languages University, Shillong campus.

Working Dream : Kristi Borah

dream

(courtesy : google images)

The English and Foreign language University, Shillong campus is wrapped in green solitude far removed from the concrete and bustling sounds,as if one is transported to the English moors.The foggy forest, tall trees with dark green leaves has enriched the University.The intermingling of different religion,caste-creed,colour,place,culture has formed a sublime family in this small campus of English and Foreign Language University.The milk tea with a samosa in the canteen,the green view all around with tadpoles and rain drops has amply added colour to the beauty of this campus.

And a very significant part of this University is Daria Warjri- a girl who has been working in this University as a maid for last one year. Daria Warjre is a sixteen years old girl who is feeding her family consisting of ten members along with her. She is the second eldest child of her family who has been given the responsibility of feeding her family and to look after her brothers and sisters. Daria’s father work as a carpenter and her mother is a housewife. Daria’s eyes always remains in quest of knowledge…she dreams of becoming a teacher and so she is continuing her study by any means. She is studying in the Savio evening college in class eleven. She attends the evening school because she needs to come to EFL University. But the sweetest thing is that, she feels the University as her home.. No one treats her badly..and she always remains happy with her work.The little girl dreams of becoming a teacher in her upcoming days. She has a keen liking for the profession of teacher in the deep corner of her heart. Daria earn five thousand rupees per month and with it she is helping her family to survive and also with her salary she use to buy her necessary stuffs. She needs to come for her work during the holidays. But she is happy…because she has been able to contribute her poverty ridden family and on the top of it she is studying with desire.

(Kristi Borah is a student of MA journalism and mass communication at efluniversity,shillong campus. She can be reached at : kristim921@gmail.com)

 

 

Voices of the Kutch : A review by Anamika S. Nair

 

kutch

Voices of Kutch produced by Drishti , is a thought provoking film about the community radio of people of Kutch. The film outlines the programming done with people’s participation by KMVS- Kutch Mahila Vikas Sanghatan’s community radio project –Radio Ujjas. The story is focusing on a girl- Kulsum and how she starts getting interested in radio programmes and ends with her song being aired in the Radio.

While mainstream media networks avoid or rather selectively telecasts their content, community radio initiatives are important in a way because they give voice to the avoided people. They amplify the voice of the unheard. However media has developed, it cannot be denied that in rural India, radio is still prevalent. In this documentary it is shown as to how KMVS’s project had helped in empowering the masses of Kutch.

Through the video we can also see how development is brought about within an area. Their issues concerning with basic issues – health or education is discussed, the voices of women could be heard, and moreover they creates public awareness against social issues.

More than just amplifying their voice Radio Ujjas turns out to be a medium of recording the shared culture and history of the masses. It alerts and empowers the weaker sections. The film also reveals through it the concerns of Television slowly replacing Radio as a medium. As one of the character puts it,  “Just like farmers who till the land , we are farmers of the sea. And when you make programme about us , our children understand what human beings are, what nature is , sea is, what the land is, what the Water is , they must understand all this.”

According to Ashish Sen, of media development Bangalore Radio reaches out to 96% of the country. In the era of growing lean towards market centric commercial ideals the role of community media becomes extremely important for a society to relate to themselves and their aspirations, outlines the film.

It is also about preserving the culture and language of marginalized societies. With loss of language comes a loss of dignity and identity. As the video rightly puts it this is the voices of people from the bossom of Earth-their dreams, aspirations, worries, concern, stories and happiness. It helps them in identifying their problems and gives them an identity. It helps a whole community to record themselves somewhere in the history.

(Anamika is a student of BA JMC  Fourth Semester at EFL University, Shillong Campus, follow her at http://bit.ly/1SUDhDP)