JOAO SOUSA M | NT
MARGAO: Education has been a great social equaliser for the Goan Christian Gauda community, which was once the mainstay of the labour force in the state.
The present-day generation of Christian tribals is educated. They shy away from taking menial jobs, seeking greener pastures abroad.
Piedade Peixoto (78), who used to work as a farmhand along with his son Peter, represents the ‘achievements’ made by the community.
“My son has educated his two children – Shirley and Sheldon. The boy works on a ship… My son has stopped doing these menial jobs and runs a small shop, which has helped us improve our standard of living,” says Piedade.
He says that they don’t have to be at the mercy of anybody, looking for jobs on a day-to-day basis. The family now gets a steady income earned through the shop.
“Moreover my grandson sends us money every month. My son always wanted to educate his children as he didn’t want them to live the way we did.“
Magdu (63), a Christian tribal woman, says that they worked for over 50 years in the fields and would also seek odd jobs from bhatkars in their landholdings. Their wages used to be meager, and hence their homes were thatched dwellings.
But as time wore on the tribals understood the importance of education and started sending their children to school.
“Most Christian tribal youth in villages are now educated and some even hold good positions. It is just a handful of people belonging to the older generation who still do some menial jobs, mostly in fields. We do not want our children to suffer the way we did,” she says.
The void in the labour force occurred due the upward social mobility of the community has now been completely filled by migrant labourers.
Thousands of migrants come to Goa, as menial jobs fetch them wages of up to Rs 600 a day, while outsiders specialised in jobs like carpentry and masonry earn up to Rs 800 a day.
A civil contractor says that they do not find Goan labourers. Only a few Goan women are engaged mostly for concretisation works.
“We are totally dependent on migrants,” he says.
It is pertinent to point out here that the influx of migrants into the state has been sustained by cheap housing and good wages.
Hundreds of migrants seek work every day and most of them find jobs mostly at construction sites, factories and private residences.