Herald: Betturnem’s parents worry their children are unemployed

Betturnem’s parents worry their children are unemployed

09 Jun 2018 05:51am IST

Report by
Neshwin Almeida

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09 Jun 2018 05:51am IST

Report by
Neshwin Almeida

Leave a comment

Parents here are frustrated their children spent most of their childhood studying in a classroom and away from nature which would have taught them life skills. Now they are struggling to find a job and Neshwin Almeida met with them and the young to understand the situation on the ground

On a quite Friday morning when one drives from Margao to Canacona, a lot of bustle can be observed as people leave their homes to work. But the small hamlet of Betturnem in Balli panchayat doesn’t have the same buzz. This hamlet of over 100 homes located in the hinterland has a few village elders walking towards the highway for work while the youngsters in the village including the adults and teens have joined the children to play badminton at 9am.The children are on holiday but to have the younger men join them to play badminton is a surprise

It’s only then that the village boys get talking to us and inform us how they have very little job opportunities in the village. Laxman Velip at Betturnem, a senior citizen is walking by the road which is yet to be tarred and he takes his cast iron koita and proceeds to the highway.

“We survive on our vegetables and chillies that we grow. While we scourge the forests for cashews and make urrack and sell while we sell the nuts to the Adarsh Society at Cuncolim,” explains Laxman.

Laxman tells us how he’s graduate nephew is jobless in the village while private companies want to hire him for really measly salaries.

“We send our children to school instead of teaching them farming, replanting saplings, ploughing the fields and tending to the cows. They told us two decades ago shun child labour; don’t take your kids to the fields. We did that and today our children learnt nothing practical to take our farmland forward and they’re jobless despite education. Now whom should we blame?  Ourselves, for giving our children education says  Laxman.  

Videsh Gaonkar is enroute to the Adarsh society to sell a bagful of cashew nuts for roasting while he depends on his son to take him by scooter to Adarsh Society at Balli-Cuncolim junction. Videsh while loading the bag of cashews onto his son’s bike explains how the situation works in his village.

“Since a majority of the village has no road, we’ve have to depend on only two wheelers. My son takes me to the society to sell these cashews at the support price while I return home on my own by bus to a certain distance and the rest on foot. My son was lucky to get a government job in the water supply department but my son like most youth have shunned agriculture, plucking cashews, growing seasonal vegetables and we stand on crossroads of losing our Scheduled Tribe Identity,” stated Videsh.

The village of Betturnem is green from the last set of chilly plantation before the monsoon comes in and the villagers will shift to the paddy crop. Sheila explains to us how she’s done her class 12th and had to give up studies because of lack of connectivity in the village.

“For the men it’s ok but for girls, how can we walk home from college in the dark beyond 6.30pm hence we have to settle to stay home, wash the clothes at the river since water supply is a problem and learn a little of the agriculture we missed out on during our schooling days,” stated Shaila Velip upset that the infrastructure of her village doesn’t support her dream of being a tailor.

Shaila shows us vegetable a creeper grown by the village elders, a science which they feel is has not been passed on to the next generation. Shaila explains to us that primary and secondary education should have at least taught them some sciences in agriculture, water resources and horticulture rather them teaching irrelevant subjects. Shaila is torn between opportunities to learn and her real plight while the government makes no effort to uplift her lifestyle and hence she has to settle to lay to dry kokum peels to be sold at the cooperative society or at Cuncolim market.

“I force my daughters to come plant these chilly samplings and then replant them in the forests where they grow better but they take little interest . Our children have been made to sit crossed legged at school for so many years and now they find it tiring or lethargic to come work in the fields and they say they’re not used to this kind of work. What can we do?” stated Rajashree Gaonkar at her chilly cultivation unit. Rajashree tells us that her village is synonymous to poverty and that visible in the small homes of the ST community at Betturnem Balli.

Vishnu Gaonkar at Betturnem, another village elder explains that the government MP and MLA is here every election asking for votes but nobody has sorted their land issues and land surveys where everybody’s name is added to the other people’s properties and hence each Velip or Gaonkar family needs NOC from at least 12 others to develop their land which in turn delays everything and has kept Bitturnem backward.

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