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Issue No:75
  • :January
  • :2017

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
—a Native American saying

India / LABOUR

Heading West

The difficult working conditions of migrant labourers in the fisheries of the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra raise both social and human-rights issues that need to be solved

This article is by Divya Karnad (, a graduate student at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, US and a Senior Research Fellow with the Foundation for Ecological Research Advocacy and Learning, Puducherry, India

The sound of many voices harmonizing together in song filter across the courtyard of Shammi Kelaskar’s house, near Vengurla in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra state, on the west coast of India. Shammi identifies himself as a fisherman, although he rarely goes fishing these days. The men singing folk songs in his yard are the real fishermen.

I meet them the next morning, sitting on a huge pile of red fishing nets, their fingers working at lightning speed to mend the nets, while they chat with each other in a language that seems extremely out of place. The fishermen speak Telugu, a language from the east coast of India. I wonder what they are doing in this remote part of the Konkan coast. “They have come here from the state of Andhra Pradesh”, says Shammi. “I hire them to help with my purse-seine net”. The fishers of...

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