Ramling Chavan is one of the migrant workers who has to fight both poverty and caste connotations. “Everybody looks down upon us, because we belong to a particular caste,” says Ramling.
June 02 , 2017 | Sanket Jain
Ramling Chavan, 67, strikes the hammer, as he hopes to sell his iron-made agricultural instruments which ‘now don’t find a market’. Ramling had to migrate 300 km from Karajkheda village of Osmanabad district of Maharashtra to the Kolhapur belt to make agricultural tools and sell them.
Ramling’s skill set lies in making sickles and repairing them. On an average, he manages to earn somewhere between 50 and 100 rupees daily. He set up his tent across the Kolhapur-Hupari road in Yelgud village almost 6 years ago. Ramling started working at the age of 10 after his father passed away and since then he has been migrating to earn money. His son, Ankush Chavan, now helps him with the business. Ramling and his brothers migrated to Kolhapur district as they thought that the region doesn’t face any drought issues and is hot belt of agriculture in Maharashtra.
“We don’t have a place to stay and this business doesn’t even pay enough to eat food twice a day. My (social and economic) condition is so bad, that I don’t feel like living anymore,” said Ramling. With modernization in agriculture, the demand for basic equipment like sickle has come down and this has severely affected the community business.
Ramling belongs to the Ghisadi caste which is traditionally into making agricultural tools and they keep migrating for work. “Everybody looks down upon us, because we belong to a particular caste,” says Ramling. The word Ghisadi has been derived from Ghisari which means to sharpen. “The owners are planning to build a petrol pump here, so we will have to migrate again,” said Ramling. Across the Kolhapur-Hupari road there are almost 50 people from the same community and all of them face similar issues.
The community (here) has several young children who are not enrolled in any school. “Forget education, we don’t have a place to stay. We don’t have enough money to buy foodgrains,” adds Ramling.
Recently, he undertook animal husbandry by starting with a handful of goats. “I bought these goats for 200 rupees each and hopefully, I will earn something through this occupation,” added Ramling.
However, with modernization in agriculture and lack of adaptability to the changes, Ramling now faces a crisis.