Wednesday, August 5, 2009
GHANTTI in GOA
G H A N T T I
Today, we use the word ‘ghantti’ to refer to the migrants who arrive in Goa in search of work.
According to our elders, the word “ghantti” meant ‘traveling carrier from the Ghats’. In those days goods also came from across the border via the land route. The ghantti often arrived at dusk with their bullocks, bells strung round their necks and loaded with bulging sacks on either side.
The tinkling of the bells and group barking of dogs usually announced their arrival. When heard, one of the locals would say: “Ar’re ghatta voilo bapui eilo”, and the whole ward would wake up to greet the tired travelers.
There were hardly any roads then; they mostly traveled through jungles. Thus, they would come across wild animals like tigers, leopards, wild boars, etc. Sometimes, they would have a narrow escape from wild animals, which they would narrate to the locals. The only weapon they carried with them was a “koito” (machete).
They would unload their bullocks, bathe at natural springs, sit and relax under the trees and smoke and crack jokes. Sometimes they sought locals’ permission and spent nights in their verandahs, but they woke up at the first light of dawn, reloaded their bullocks and moved off in groups via Gaumvaddy, Anjuna on their journey into Maharashtra/ Karnataka. They took with them coconuts, rice, salt fish,“maddanchem godd” (coconut jaggery), seasonal fruits like mangoes, etc. and local drinks.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, we welcomed these traveling carriers from the Ghats but today we despise and label them as “ghantti”.
Why? Do you know who is handling Goa’s manpower requirement today?
I am currently building a house. Do you know who the workers are? With the exception of the contractor, Agnelo Britto, from Grande Peddem in Anjuna and his “mukhi gonvlli” (main mason), a Hindu from Morjim, the rest are all migrants.
We have to think twice before we open a door – once opened; it’s difficult to close it. Some of the first post-liberation migrants to arrive in Goa were Keralite teachers, as we didn’t have enough teachers to teach in schools. We then had officers on deputation, mainly from Maharashtra State, who exercised nepotism and brought in as many relatives as they could and filled offices.
And now we have construction workers in every field, including wood carvers, who arrive in Goa in hordes from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, etc. They have established themselves in Goa; so much so the manpower market is governed by them.
Until last month, a labourer charged Rs.150/- per day but now he charges Rs.200/- per day – a 33.34% increase, which has been accepted across the board in Goa! You now know who is ruling our state, but it is we who gave them that power.
Let us not forget that when we point a finger at others three fingers point at us! I hope better sense will prevail among those who keep blowing their out of tune “pemprem” and they will stop propagating “aplench tambddem”!
We started the mess and we are trying our best to fix it. “Sat somdir pois ravon fozne marinakat ani amkam formainakat”. (Don’t fire mortar from thousands of miles away and dictate us). If you want to improve the situation in Goa, come here and help us or else hold your peace and keep the pride for yourself.