Saturday, April 4, 2009

Job Security for All

There are some people who are easily impressed. When times are bad they find silver linings. They are silly and setting themselves up for a fall. I dislike these types because I am one of them.

I was so impressed with a presentation on Poetry Films. But there were many in the hall who watched the short films flash on the screen with growing indignation. At discussion time they flatly said they didn’t understand any of it and there was no future in poetry films.

To me it was like looking at abstract art. The trick is in not trying to figure out what the monkey was thinking when he flung paint at the canvas, but what conclusions I could draw from that work of art. Ditto with poetry films. And then I heard the chief guest Vishnu Wagh Spokesperson for the Congress Party in Goa, speaking bracingly about a good future for the genre in Goa. I was so impressed.

The very next day Wagh gave a press conference with the employees of the Maharaja casino breathing down his neck, saying that the Congress was for casinos and that if they were shut down or swept out to sea, 3000 young Goans would lose their jobs. And I was filled with wonder and awe. Ah, a messiah had spoken.

As the official spokesman for the Congress the large and equally large-hearted Wagh brought into his fold the unwanted and the miserable. Civil society frowns heavily on gambling but Wagh in essence, said come to me all ye who are slotted by the slot machines, and poked by the poker chips while the government plays Russian Roulette with their immediate futures.

And I thought here is solace for the other pariahs of civil society. Sex workers – at least 40 per cent are Goans and they are being pushed out of business. Their Russian counterparts take the high end tourists and the Lamanis get the low-end tourist. They have families dependent on their earnings.

Builders – they behave exactly like bosses of prostitutes (and one hears a number of them do own brothels), because they organize the rape of Goa and sell her off over and over again. Now they have families and employees and labourers heavily dependent on them. They need the construction business to continue unhampered. A lot is being done to help them, but there are some who complain.

Drug peddlers – it’s such a huge network as the Narcotics Cell will tell you. There are groups and sub-groups, pushers and carriers, those that get young people hooked onto their products, and then hound them for cash, or recruit them into the business of drug dealing. If they are stopped, hundreds and thousands will be affected, yes, Goan families too.

Matka bookies and agents – they are all over, under the policemen’s noses, in markets, at bus stops, the network is more amazing and marvelous than the tiffin carriers of Mumbai. I know one small time agent in Chimbel who has now retired, but who supported not just his wife and two children on his earnings as a matka agent, but his mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her son, his son’s wife and children, and his daughter’s husband and children. The interest he earns from his fixed deposits keeps his family and extended family fed and clothed even in these strange times of zero inflation with the price of food going through the roof. Can you imagine the misery this agent and all the thousands like him all affiliated to the head offices at Kalyan and Mulund in Mumbai, will suffer if matka is closed down?

Congress continues the good work of saving all these illegitimate livelihoods. Now maybe they could spare a thought for all those Goans who are jobless because their employers shut down their legitimate operations in Goa? Maybe, just maybe, they will stop hanging themselves from ceiling fans, rafters and trees?

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