The Eastern Fishermen and the Deep Sea Fishing

There had been two instances of rounding up of Indian fishermen in the palk straits as they were fishing off the coast of Rameshwaram  this week, even when officials and ministers of the two nations Srilanka and India were discussing bilateral issues concerning fishermen of the countries and the country was celebrating Deepavali.

New mode of fishing and sea farming and employing long liners and deep sea fishing are the panacea prescribed and floated in the meet by  Indian officials according to the information available in the press. What the counterparts from the neighbouring nation offered in the meet was not very explicitly known. 

The suggestions to have long liners for deep sea fishing are received with lukewarm response, by the traditional east coast fishers, the reason being that they, unlike the Western coast seamen are not tuned for long period stay in the mid sea. They are Quickers, used to overnight stay or at best two nights stay. 

Further they do not seem to have the seed capital to qualify for further assistance of subsidies, to build and operate the long liners meant for deep sea fishing  that the Government avowedly champions. 

Further, the  most enterprising of these eastern fish lords are in dark on what would befall on the trawlers they have with them already which they have procured with loans from banks and  private bodies and persons if they perchance opt for long liners for deep sea fishing.

No effort seems to have been taken to propagate the idea of deep sea fishing amidst such quick sea operators ,as a result , the scheme of deep sea fishing advocated by the Government with attractive subsidies  is almost a non starter, with traditional fishermen for whose sake this has been conceived. It is feared that the scheme is likely to be grabbed by big corporates and companies  ultimately leaving the traditional sea – fisher in the east coast high and dry.

Though the traditional fishermen ignore this scheme,they are glad that the Government of India has put a stop to the shooting down by Srilankan Navy , of fishermen who unwittingly cross the border which he rarely recognises, as it is  his traditional fish -ground and as he well knows that the original agreement between the two countries does not forbid him from his fishing operation in his historical waters and resting ground and as he is well aware that all over the world pursuing finny  drove is  not a serious flagrancy.

But they feel the Government should come forward to  stop the  harassment not so much of the arrests the Srilankan navy makes  but of the damages they cause to the Indian boats wantonly even when they are in sea , and also when they are docked in their ports after seizure, as the boats are built at high cost made good by borrowings and investing their  life time savings : and of the piracy  they  indulge in by plundering their catch and their personal belonging like GPS , Wilkie talkies,  and spares of engines of boats . 

According to fishermen in the eastern coast, the immediate concern of our Government should be 

  1. Prevention of malicious arrests, 
  2. Prevention of wilful wreckage of seized boats.
  3. Prevention of piracy of catch and personal belongings of the boats like GPS ,walking talkies, and spares of boat engines. 

by A.X Alexander

Our Bretheren at Sea

Last year when I was sitting in my drawing hall about twenty women accompanied by children and a cassocked priest, and two laymen came in three vans and came into the house and sat in a row. The visit was un announced and abrupt.There was none but me and my grand son at home, as all others  at home have gone out on their chores. 

They arranged themselves in neat rows and having veiled over their heads started praying, kneeling in front of the sacred heart picture with Incantations  and Lamentations that would pierce the roof of the heavens. I was stunned by the intensity of their piety and wondered whether they had mistaken my residence for a way side prayer hall. 

It soon dawned on me that I had seen a few of these women wildly bemoaning in the television the previous evening the arrest and incarceration of their relatives in the Middle East as they were implicated in an accidental fall and death of a local fisherman and arrested by the police and kept in prison with no relief at sight. The father who accompanied them also spoke in the channel and pleaded for the intervention of the Government to get them out of the prison shackles and restore them to their families. 

After their prayers, I asked them for the purpose of their visit to Me. The father explained that I must use my good office to bring to the notice of the government the sad plight of the ladies and their relatives in prison. I asked for details of these people. They were scarce details. They did not have photos of all in the prison. They did not know the stage of the case , the court where it is under trial,the name of the lawyer, if any if employed, availability of funds, if any, in case the court , acquitted the interned to get back to India. The information on  such questions were in bits and fragments, leaving me with the impression that ground work had not been  done, before they launched themselves into propaganda and publicity of their  plight.

During the discussion with the priest who accompanied, it has come to my knowledge, that most of these fishermen rush to Middle East not on Employment visa but on a Tourisvisa, and after the expiry of visa continue to stay illegally. I also got to know that these people do not go to these fishing companies throughreputed agencies but through hoax  agencies who fleece them of their finance even before they set sail, and continue to halve their income even when they slog in the mid sea. I also learnt from the father that there is no agency to certify whether they are embarking onto a reputed fishing company or not. It also came to my knowledge that fishermen who get employment orders through these agencies keep the information secret to themselves lest others should grab the opportunity and deprive them of their fortune, and thereby deny the chance to know about the credibility of employing company.

I did speak to the concerned in the Government on behalf of these people, and got to know the Government was already in the know of things and that the embassy in question was attending sincerely on the misery of these fishermen. What I found as the missing link was a trusted body in the Middle East as well as on our shores  of our own which could authentically inform families in India, guide the affected and lend legal support in the different countries in the Middle East and in India.

Thoughts on the predicament forces me to suggest the following.

1.The fishermen embarking to Middle East for  should not go there on improper visa.

  1. They should verify the credibility of the company before  they go.
  2. An organisation should be built up to check the visa, credibility of the company that employs, the past conduct of the company etc.inIndia.
  3. A training course on the geography, seascape, the boundaries of various nations, the types of vessels, customs and manners of Arabs , knowledge of local laws and rules, should be given by this organisation.
  4. Organisation to lend support for those in distress in the Mid East must be organised. Such organisations should be led by educated who could talk to lawyers, police, Indian embassy in the Middle East. etc. 
  5. People who report from India in the Arabian countries should register themselves in these organisations compulsorily.
  6. These organisations may  have to obtain the address, tele numbers and next of kin address both in India and in Middle East , keep them in register and render necessary help.

These thoughts were in my mind at the time when these beleaguered few visited my house, but once when Mdm, Jayalalitha got them out , I thought it ended once for all. But I saw a repetition of it reported in the newspaper yesterday  , this time in Qutar.

Hence this article , hoping some one would take this further and translate my suggestions to reality.

by A.X Alexander

Jayalalithaa & the fishermen community of Tamilnadu

I’d like to highlight some of the reforms and welfare schemes introduced by our late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for fisheries / fishermen in Tamilnadu.

Tamilnadu & Fisheries

Tamilnadu has the second highest GDP among all the states in India after Maharashtra. GSDP is Gross State Domestic Product which takes all revenue from Agriculture, Automobiles, Manufacturing, Services, Animal Husbandry and lot more that contributes to our state’s economy.

Fisheries contribute significantly to TN’s economy (nearly 1%). Though it cannot match other behemoths such as Services, Agriculture & Manufacturing this sector is one of the oldest and offers employment to nearly 10 lakh people in the state. Our coastal districts (Chennai, Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram,Tuticorin & Kanyakumari) contributed heavily in the fishing sector.

Tamilnadu has a coastal length of 1076 km (13% of the country’s coast line) which is second in India after Gujarat.  With the present level of marine fish catch Tamilnadu ranks fourth at the all India level.

Let’s look at former Chief Minister Jayalalaithaa’s contribution towards fishing in Tamilnadu

Fishermen captured by SriLankan Navy

There has been a constant friction between the Sri Lankan navy and Indian fishermen. This still continues with Sri Lankan Navy capturing our fishermen on the case of moving into Sri Lankan waters. It’s still not clear if our fishermen literally cross Indian waters or Sri Lankan Navy is using brute force to scare fishermen to come closer to Katchatheevu. Anyways Katchatheevu is a political case and I’m not trying to focus this here.

Every time our fishermen get trapped in Sri Lankan jails our Chief Minister approaches the centre to secure their release. Increasing Coast Guards vigilance around these areas and movement of Navy boats to protect our fishermen are some of the measures taken.

Longline Tuna fishing is a scheme announced in 2014 which is designed to let fishermen move away from trawler fishing and move over to tuna longliner, thus keeping fishermen away and avoiding conflicts with the Sri Lankan navy.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa suggested that a move from bottom trawlers to deep sea tuna long liners would reduce the pressure on the practice of bottom-trawling in the Palk Bay region. Fishermen get subsidy of up to 50% from the State government to procure these boats and nets.

Longline Tuna fishing scheme

Longline fishing is a commercial fishing technique. It uses a long line called the main line, with baited hooks attached at intervals. A main line can have thousands of hooks and it can be thrown from a boat for a long distance and wait for the fish to come and get trapped. This helps fishermen not to venture too far into the seas thereby protecting them from being caught by Sri Lankan Navy.

Tuna (Soorai meen in Tamil) which is imported significantly adds to state’s revenue. Our age old “Maasi” is also prepared from Tuna.

Financial assistance during lean period of fishing

Every year during October to December fishermen abstain from fishing due to rough weather in the seas. Their daily wages hit badly due to this and they are unable to run their family. In 2011 Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced a financial grant to all fishermen during this lean period.

In 2016 the amount has been increased to Rs. 5000 a family. This amount is directly credited to their bank accounts. Around 1.7 lakh families are benefitted by this scheme.
Surveillance boats for search operations

In 2016 Chief Minister Jayalalithaa dedicated three surveillance boats purchased by the fisheries department to do sorties and search for fishermen who go missing while fishing in the coastal waters of Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts.

Subsidised Kerosene for boats

In 2012 government increased the quantity of subsidized Kerosene from 200 to 250 litres to all fishermen. Kerosene is generally used to propel motor boats used for fishing. The Government pays a subsidy of Rs. 25 per litre for country boats with external engines.

Release of Tamil fishermen trapped in Iran

In December 2015 44 fishermen from Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts, working for a private fishing company in United Arab Emirates (UAE) as contract labourers were arrested by Iran Coast Guard on charges of illegal fishing in the Iranian waters.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa coordinated with officials of the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi and those in Iran and UAE to secure the release. Discussions with Narendra Modi (Prime Minister) and Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs Minister) helped pave a way for the fishermen’s release. In March 2016 all 44 fishermen safely returned to India and were sent to their natives at State Government’s expense.

Chief Minister also granted Rs. 5 lakhs to each of the fishermen from Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund. She said “The assistance would help these fishermen in starting a new life”.

Rescue of Kanyakumari fishermen stranded in Odisha

In October 2013 18 fishermen from Kanyakumari went missing around the Odisha coast. This was the time when cyclone Phailin stuck the Odisha coast. The fishermen were feared missing after their two mechanised boats ran out of fuel.

Under the orders of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Tamil Nadu officials got in touch with their Odisha counterparts for rescuing the fishermen. They remained in constant touch with National Disaster Response Force personnel and the Coast Guard.

The fishermen slowly landed in one of the coast which was badly hit by the cyclone. They approached the Odisha government for help who in turn informed the Tamilnadu government. The Odisha government handed over those 18 fishermen to the Tamilnadu government officials. They returned back to Kanyakumari safely and continued their profession in a safe manner.

Recruitment to police and other services.

The Governmentt has announced vacancies of
1. 4569 cons tables –men–grade 2 in Tamilnadu special Police
2.46  cons tables –women –grade 2 in Tamilnadu special Police
3.4627 cons tables –men –grade 2 –in Tamilnadu Armed forces and
4.3941 cons tables –women cons tables –in Tamilnadu Armed forces.

It has also announced vacancies. Of
1. Grade 2 jail wardens–men—976 in Tamilnadu jails
2. Grade 2  jail warmers –women –40–in Tamilnadu jails.

Further it has announced vacancies of
1.  1542 fire men in Tamilnadu Fire services.

AGE. — 18 yrs completed  and below 24 yrs.
Applications OMR , CAN BE OBTAINED FROM POST OFFICES.by paying 35 rupees.

Educational qualification
10th standard.

Applications should have a receipt for Rs 135 paid and obtained from post offices . This receipt should be pasted in the OMR application..

Method of selection.

Written exam.             80 marks.
Physical efficiency      15 marks.
NCC. , NSS   Games      5 marks.
Medical exam if you come successful in the exam.

Date of exam.  21- 5–2017.

Mode of applying . Those who have the age and educational qualification should get OMR application from post office by paying 35 rs , fill it up properly with necessary certificates, and get a receipt of rs 135 from post office and paste it on the application and send it to

TAMILNADU UNIFORMED SERVICES RECRUITMENT BOARD,
OLD COMMISSIONER OF POLICE CAMPUS,
PANTHEON ROAD,
EGMORE,
CHENNAI –600008.

Last date for application   22.  February. 2017.

If you have any doubt ,pl go to  www.tnusrb.in. gov. in

Those of you who read this , pl communicate this to our youngsters, and guide them to fill up the application, ask them to check up with their friends in police,get books for the examinations ,prepare themselves for physical efficiency  appear for the recruitment.there is no shortcut . Hard work is called for. It is necessary that the coastal youngsters get in to police, prison department, and fire service department.

Demonic effects of demonetization on our fishermen

Two months back the name “Demonetisation” sounded Greek & Latin to us. Now entire India is aware of this term, thanks to Central government’s decision on scrapping out 500 & 1000 rupees note. Nation saw a lot of debate and discussion around this issue. Why not, after all it was these 2 pieces of paper which decided everyone’s day to day life. With a population of 129 crores this decision was not like others affecting our daily lives.

Government considered themselves as God who can unleash the flood and save Noah and his family alone. Government should not be equated to God; they can’t impose restrictions on using our hard earned money. I’m not writing an article to highlight against demonetisation. My intention is to bring to your notice about our fishermen’s plight because of this demonetisation move across our coasts. Farmers, labourers, weavers, small time businessmen everyone had a big hit due to this move. Fishermen were not left behind in this issue as if their woes were not enough already.

We all crib about standing in lines outside ATM or banks to encash or exchange. Think about our Paravar fishermen whose livelihood depends on fishing on a daily basis. How would they procure diesel for their boats, what would they pay for daily wages? Even if they got a good catch who would buy their fish when the old 500 & 1000 rupees notes became invalid and the new currency is out of reach? Sea foods are perishable goods and they can’t wait until new currency is floated across the country. There needs to be a mechanism with which people can buy & sell these items. No politician or celebrity faced problems with food and they don’t seem to understand what was going through these fishermen.

Let’s look at some of the major problems faced by our fishermen along our coastline starting from Rameswaram till Kanyakumari:

  • Unable to purchase diesel for the boats. A typical case wherein fishermen are unable to get diesel for their boats because petrol bunks are not accepting old currencies.
  • Rameswaram amounts to 4 cr loss per day because fishermen are on strike. If fishermen do not venture out for fishing what will happen to their livelihood?
  • Inability to pay wages to the daily labourers assisting in fishing. Even if they could arrange for diesel, manpower is very limited because owners can’t pay them as they do not have the new currencies.
  • Ice blocks used to store huge amount of fishes are not being sold due to currency ban. If fishermen are unable to procure ice for storage then the big catch goes into drain. Horrible isn’t it?
  • Most fishermen do not have bank accounts. How does government want them to transact through banks?
  • New banknotes came to Nationalised and Private Banks not to the cooperative banks. Paravar villages have many cooperative banks wherein our fishermen hold accounts. Cooperative banks were not given the new currency notes, making it impossible for fishermen’s to acquire new currency.
  • Forget cash, use MasterCard or VISA. Our fishermen brothers from Rameswaram till Kanyakumari cannot use credit / debit cards because they don’t have one. Is the government kidding?
  • People in Chennai stood for long hours in ATM / banks despite having good internet connectivity and availability of credit / debit cards and mobile payment options. What about villages such as Alanthalai, Uvari etc. where there is no reach for these luxury items?
  • It took more than 2 weeks for the new 500 rupees note to reach Chennai. Just think of the situation in our coastal villages..
  • One of the worst situations is when our fishermen were paid with 2000 rupees for a catch of 500 rupees and they never had the balance to return because they did not have 100 rupees notes. The catch went in vain as the people were not ready to shell out money without getting the balance in change.

Nearly 40 years back a demonetisation happened in 1978 which was considered to be a failure. With population doubling today and 500 & 1000 Rs notes becoming 86% of floating cash in India, government has decided to play with the common man. Analysts say that it will take a long time for India to come out of this present crisis, not the 50 days during which government promises to change India.

Central / State government should take steps to address the plights of common man. Fishing acts as a major driver of Tamilnadu’s economy. Inability to address the currency ban issue immediately will mean that the state’s economy will take a big hit which in turn hits India’s economy.

God bless India !!

By Anton Niresh

Enayam Port, Kanyakumari District

New Seaport development is a significant activity towards India’s economic development. Tamilnadu has 3 ports viz. Chennai Port, Ennore Port & Tuticorin Port. Recently a fourth seaport has been proposed at Enayam, Colachel in Kanyakumari District. Central government has given a go ahead to the Enayam International Seaport. This port will act as the southern trans-shipment gateway. The estimated cost for this project is Rs 28000 crore. 500 acres of land will be reclaimed from the sea.

What is “Sagar Mala” project ?

“Sagar Mala” project is a strategic and customer-oriented initiative of the Government of India to modernize India’s Ports so that port-led development can be augmented and coastlines can be developed to contribute towards India’s growth. It looks towards transforming the existing Ports into modern world class Ports and integrate the development of the Ports, the Industrial clusters and hinterland and efficient evacuation systems through road, rail, inland and coastal waterways resulting in Ports becoming the drivers of economic activity in coastal areas.

“Sagar Mala” is an initiative similar to the “Golden Quadrilateral” project that started during the Vajpayee government focusing on connecting the highways.

Enayam

Colachel is a beautiful town in Kanyakumari District which has a population of around 50000. History notes that Vasco Da Gama had reached here after landing at Goa. Before the state reorganization in 1956, it was part of the Travancore state. Post 1956 this became a part of Tamilnadu. Colachel is located at a distance of 40 kms from Kanyakumari and 20 kms from Nagercoil. Enayam where the proposed harbor will be built is 11 kms from Colachel.

What is Transshipment Harbour ?

Currently Colombo port is the major transshipment port for goods to be delivered to southern states of India. Colombo port accounts for one fourth of India’s total transshipment. What does this mean?

Mother ships (heavy cargo carriers) carrying unimaginable load of cargo to various places of the world cannot be docked in our existing ports. Colombo port has the capability to berth these mother ships (journeying around Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal) and unload cargos. These cargos destined to reach India will be shipped through smaller ships which reach to the ports in India. Transshipment harbor is similar to Transit Airport wherein you switch to another flight helping you reach to your destination.

Colombo receives most of the revenue as transshipment fees which India is losing out. Forming a natural harbor at Enayam will bring in mother ships here rather than moving to Colombo, thereby bringing revenue to India than Sri Lanka.

 Disadvantages of Enayam Port

Above mentioned points sounds very exciting that will bring in a world class harbour in Tamilnadu. Another prospect seems to be bringing in a lot of jobs around this district. But this rosy picture is not the actual fact. Enayam harbour will bring in lots of destructions when compared to the benefits that we have looked so far. Long term thinking needs to be in place while considering these ports. Let’s look at the drawbacks:

Vallarpadam Port, Cochin

A container trans-shipment facility in Vallarpadam, Cochin was commissioned in 2011. This facility is a part of the Cochin Port and the construction started in 2005. This was India’s first International Container Transshipment Terminal and has the capability to handle 1 million Twenty Foot Equivalent units (TEUs). A report says that during the financial year 2014-15 only 17000 TEUs was handled at Vallarpadam which is very paltry considering it’s capacity. A TEU is the standard size of a container and a common measure of capacity in the container business. Obvioulsy this port has been making losses and is not being utilized to it’s capacity. Vessels prefer Colombo than Vallarpadam.

Colombo is way ahead of Vallarpadam in terms of capacity, pricing and productivity. Large ships prefer Colombo over Vallarpadam. Of course there are lot many bureaucratic and admininistrative reasons behind the losses at Vallarpadam. My idea is not to focus on Vallarpadam’s loss but to check the feasibility of Enayam port in this situation. After all Vallarpadam is located just 270 kms away from Enayam.

Vizhinjam Port, Trivandrum

Adding to Vallarpadam, another trans-shipment port is being built at Vizhinjam in Trivandrum. This port is coming up at a distance of 50 kms from Enayam. The project is an initiative by the Kerala government and has been awarded to “Adani Ports and SEZ” in 2015. Construction began in December 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2019. With Vallarpadam in loss and Vizhinjam coming up with a new port just 50 kms away from Enayam, we wonder why another port is required at Enayam.

Re-claiming space from sea

Enayam port is fully funded by the Government of India. Enayam does not have land space for development of a port. This means that land will be reclaimed from sea for more than 500 acres. Many ports take space from land rather than sea thereby not impacting the ocean reserves in a significant way. Reclaiming land from sea will destroy the fragile ecosystem and fishes. Fishing which is the primary livelihood for many around these areas will be impacted severely.

Around 40 villages around Enayam will be impacted in a significant way. If the land is claimed at shore the impact to nature in sea would have been limited. Now that 500+ acres inside sea will be claimed, the impact would be very severe.

Movement of Goods

If a port does come in Enayam the movement of cargos from here to various parts of Tamilnadu and other areas would require heavy infrastructure. Roads, bridges, container vehicles all seems to be a good prospect, but at a heavy cost. The area beyond Kanyakumari till Kerala is one of the beautiful places to visit in Tamilnadu. Places such as Muttom, Rajakkamangalam, Colachel etc. keep the pristine glory of nature intact. Heavy development also leads to the destruction of nature.

Will it benefit India economically?

With nearby ports at Vallarpadam (Cochin) & Vizhinjam (Trivandrum) will Enayam be able to make profits? This remains as a million dollar question. Moreover a port at Enayam will also have a negative impact on our long standing Tuticorin harbour. Cargo movement to Tuticorin Port will come down drastically. Making good use of Tuticorin Port seems to be a better proposal than one coming up at Enayam.

Protests against the port

September 18th 2016 saw hundreds of fishermen and their family members staging a protest against the proposed port. The fishermen expressed fear of severe sea erosion, which could affect their livelihood, if the port, proposed to be established on over 500 acres of sea area. The project would displace over 50,000 fishermen families.

The protest, spearheaded by Peoples’ Movement Against Enayam International Container Transshipment Terminal (PMAEICTT), saw the participation of women and children belonging to the fishermen community. PMAEICTT had been opposing the project for the last one year and had staged various agitations, including a mammoth human chain at Kodimunai seashore in August 2016.

Environmental destruction

Reclaiming 500 acres of land in sea is no mean task. This implies that huge stones / rocks will have to be filled in sea to establish the area. To get a surface of 500 acres at least 3000 acres of sea below the surface should be filled with stones. Just imagine how the rocks will be sourced from, will a mountain be destroyed to get these stones? Is it worth losing hills in Western Ghats to build this harbour?

Not just mountains but also the corals & different varieties of sea bodies will be destroyed because of this port.

Am I wrong in stating that “India does not require another major port for trans-shipment at Enayam but it requires minor ports with good connectivity for cargo movement? Let’s think…

By Anton Niresh

Rameswaram and its significance in Paravar History

From Vembar to Kanyakumari many of the coastal villages / towns have been touched upon in www.globalparavar.org. Recently I travelled along Rameswaram covering Ramanathapuram, Mandapam, Pamban, Thangachimadam etc. and I would like to provide information on the Paravar settlements in these areas.

Brief on Rameswaram

Rameswaram is one of the holiest places for Hindus in India similar to Varanasi in UP (Uttar Pradesh). Rameswaram Island including Dhanuskodi is associated with the epic Ramayana. The place name Rameswaram is a combination of two words Rama and Iswaram. A significant place for the Hindus, Rameswaram also inherited Buddhism, Jainism & Islam. Christianity entered during 16th century when Portuguese entered Tamilnadu specifically in the coastal areas.

Christianity in Rameswaram

St. Francis Xavier came till Mookaiyur (a village 20kms away from Vembar) but did not go till Rameswaram. Christianity spread around Rameswaram after St. Francis Xavier’s departure when Paravar fishermen who were already converted to Catholics came from nearby villages for fishing. The fishermen bought many Catholic faiths with them which they usually carry when they go for fishing. Catholic faith flourished when Fr. Antonie Criminalie came here around 1546. Fr. Antonie Criminalie was a Jesuit priest who was appointed to go to Vedhalai (village en route to Rameswaram) by St. Francis Xavier.

Around 1644 Thirumalai Nayak while ruling Rameswaram gave Portuguese the permission to build churches in the area. Madurai Nayak and Portuguese had a naval treaty wherein Portuguese helped Nayaks in their battles.  St. James Church was built by the Portuguese at Verkadu near Thangachimadam.

Fr. ANTONIE CRIMINALIE (1520 – 1549)

Fr. Antonie Criminalie came to Rameswaram region from Italy in 1546 A.D. as a Jesuit missionary. His preaching was intense around the coastal regions and he rendered his services to the people in this area. In his letters to Rome, St. Francis Xavier regards Fr. Antonie Criminalie very much.

On St. Francis Xavier’s instructions Fr. Criminalie settled down at Vedhalai and started serving people around this area. The Nayaks who ruled Madurai at that time were not happy with Fr. Criminalie and Portuguese who were involved in spreading Christianity. They waged a war against the Portuguese and during this time Fr. Criminalie was killed by a spear which hit his chest. You can note that nearly after a century Nayaks befriended Portuguese to get their naval support.

There is a small church at Vedhalai which has become very famous just before Rameswaram and is dedicated to Fr. Antonie Criminalie. You can read more about Fr. Criminalie in an earlier article in www.globalparavar.org titled “THE BATTLES OF VEDHALAI – Fr . ANTHONY CRIMINALI S.J. —THE PARAVA CONNECTION” (dated May 26, 2013).

  1. JOHN DE BRITTO (1647 – 1693)

Whilst talking about Christianity around Rameswaram & Ramanathapuram, yet another important Jesuit priest cannot be ignored. St. John De Britto, a Portuguese Jesuit priest is a very famous missionary who came to Madurai in 1673 and started spreading Christianity. He renamed himself as Arul Anandar (அருளானந்தர்) in Tamil. He learnt Tamil, started dressing  in yellow cotton and lived like a Thuravi (sage), abstaining from animal food and wine. St. John de Britto taught the Catholic faith in concepts that would make sense to the local people.

John De Britto was responsible for spreading Catholicism around Madurai, Sivagangai,  Ramnad & parts of Thanjavur. During this time king Sethupathi of Ramnad was not happy with what John De Britto was doing and ordered his arrest. The king ordered John De Britto’s execution and was taken to Oriyur (around 50 kms from Ramnad). Oriyur village never had a name at that time, it was “Oru Oor” (A village) in Tamil which gave its name Oriyur. John De Britto was tortured and beheaded at Oriyur. The sands of the place where his head fell turned into red colour due to his blood. Till today the church in Oriyur has this red sand dedicated to this great saint.

Paravar settlement around Rameswaram

Rameswaram is not included under the list of “Muthukulithurai” villages but it became a settlement for Paravars slowly. Though Paravars frequented Rameswaran for fishing there was no proper settlement here. Paravar settlement might have happened in Thangachimadam some 100 years back. Sea trade brought Paravars from coastal villages such as Vembar, Mukkur, Punnaikayal etc. into Thangachimadam.

The above mentioned facts shows us that Paravars used the coast of Rameswaram to expand their fishing and pearl business. In fact this was the major route to do business with Sri Lanka and Paravars had definitely used this. We cannot forget how Paravars flourished by expanding their trade with Lanka. Today Muthupettai in Ramnad, Pamban and Thangachimadam in Rameswaram hold a significant Paravar population.

Rameswaram which has a rich natural reserve in the seas has been undergoing several turbulences for the past several years. Paravars are having a tough time managing their livelihood in this area.

  • Fishing which was the primary occupation of Paravars is being sidelined. This profession has been taken over by many others and Paravars have been left languishing.
  • Takeover of Katchatheevu by Sri Lanka in 1974 has had a great impact on our fishermen. Once with India, Katchatheevu acted as an important island for fishing by Paravars.
  • The major problem comes from Sri Lankan Navy targeting our fishermen. Fear of attacks by Sri Lanksn Navy has put this profession at stake in Rameswaram.
  • Boats of our fishermen are seized by Sri Lankan Navy and they are never returned back. The fishing boat is a major investment of our fishermen. Many take loans to procure boats and once seized they come under tremendous pressure to pay back the debt.
  • Fear of SL Navy in the coast of Rameswaram has prompted many Paravars to go for fishing in places such as Mangalore, Goa & Vishakapatnam. It is a shame that we are not able to continue our profession in which we are so skilled within our state.

Manapad Water Sports

5“Surfing”, “Kite boarding”, Sailing Regatta, Super bike riding and “Kayaking”. Do these terms ring any bell in your minds?  Many of us might be aware of surfing at sea but the other names might sound “Greek and Latin”. Well they too are the names of Adventure water sports.

You might wonder why I should be talking about water sports in globalparavar.com. Well, not many of us know that one of our Muthukulithurai village hosts an annual National Level event in Adventure Water Sports. “Manapad” takes the pride in hosting this annual event and the organizers of this event are  the Chennai based couple,  Arun & Francina Miranda, who trace their ancestral roots to Manapad in Tuticorin district..

For the last 2 years they have organised this National level  event named “Manapad Classic – Sail & Surf Festival”. I got an opportunity to meet Arun Miranda and talk about this event. He spoke in detail about their  passion towards Manapad, Adventure water sports and community work at large. Honestly, I was never aware that these sports were being organized with such fanfare and that lot of effort has gone towards organizing this event.

I would like to share some of the excerpts which Arun had shared with me during our conversation.

Personal background:

Arun grew up in Chennai. He did his schooling at St. Bede’s in Chennai. Later on he did his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and MBA in Marketing & Finance. Francina did her schooling in Holy Cross School in Tuticorin and later completed her M. Sc in Physics and B. Ed. Arun is an Industrialist who has business interests in India, UAE and the USA. Francina ably helps him in his business ventures.

They were based out of Dubai from 1991 to 2012 making frequent visits to Chennai. Post 2012 they moved their corporate base to Chennai, India. Arun makes frequent visits to Europe, US, Korea, Sri Lanka & Dubai as part of his business.

Their  connection with Manapad

Though Arun and Francina spent their early life in Chennai and Tuticorin respectively, and later lived abroad for many years, their love for Manapad was always alight within them.. Their involvement with Manapad was very limited until 1995 when they made a visit to their hometown. They were completely mesmerised by the beauty of the beach, churches and homes in Manapad. Owing to their professional commitments they went back to Dubai. But the beauty of our coast and the warmth of our people never left their  minds. In 2007, they made another visit to Manapad while visiting Tuticorin to witness Our Lady of Snows feast. Their love for Manapad only grew stronger and they were convinced that they should do something to promote this beautiful coastal hamlet.

Adventure Water sports in Manapad

Arun came across one of his Australian friend who was a professional surfer . He was quite surprised when this guy had talked about Manapad and the fact that Manapad was one of the best locations for Surfing in India.  Trying to gather details on surfing he visited one of India’s pioneer surfers in Mangalore, who happened to be the President of the “Surfing Federation of India”. Arun brought this person to Manapad who certified that this beach was an excellent one for Surfing, Stand Up Paddle and Kayaking.

Later, Arun met one of the International Kite Boarding coaches in Mumbai. This person visited Manapad and conducted a detailed survey. He was convinced that Manapad was the best location in India for Kite Boarding and Wind Surfing. Further more, Arun invited members of Tamil Nadu Sailing Association to Manapad in order to inspect the suitability to carry out Sailing in Manapad. They brought a team of sailors and were happy to find that Manapad is indeed an excellent location for Sailing.

An interesting fact is that the world’s best surfing guide called www.magicseaweed.com lists Manapad as one the best surfing sites globally.

Challenges faced

The decision to promote Surfing and other Adventure water sports in Manapad became a big challenge for Arun & Francina. With no amenities to support such sporting activities, they were not sure if this was feasible in terms of infrastructure and logistics. The permissions required to conduct such Adventure Water sports also had to be obtained. The local village community has to be taken into confidence and this whole initiative could be successful only if it is a holistic project with the total commitment of the locals.

Water Sports Resort & Homestay:

Their first  step was to setup a decent property with proper amenities for athletes and guests to stay in Manapad when they visit this place for Adventure Water sports. They invested in a heritage property which was in a dilapidated condition. This was a Portuguese styled castle built around 1920. They invested a lot of time and effort to renovate this property and covert this into a modern “Homestay” as per International standards. The whole restoration process took almost three years and “Villa de Joseph” was formally opened in the summer of 2010.   This property has six well furnished bedrooms, modern wash rooms, two grand halls fitted with finest furniture, audio/video equipments, a dining hall, terrace restaurant, kitchen, spacious garden, library, barbeque set, laundry facility etc.,

Caretakers from local community are available at all times to attend to the needs of the guests. Local and international cuisines are made available to guests throughout their stay.

The next step was to equip the facility with all equipments required to operate a full fledged Adventure Water Sports Resort. This was done with the help of professionals from the industry. A separate entity named “Manapad Surf Resort” was set up to run the Adventure Water Sports activities. Further details on the Water Sports resort and Homestay can be viewed on www.manapad.in

Apart from Adventure Water sports enthusiasts, there are streams of guests from all over India and a few other countries who have now started visiting Manapad. Their keen interest seems to be Heritage tourism, Coastal tourism and Religious tourism. This influx of tourists has nurtured a spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the local villagers. The local villagers take these tourists on long drives to other coastal villages and places of historical significance, they act as tour guides, they sell handicrafts like Palm Leaf products etc.

MANAPAD CLASSIC – SAIL & SURF FESTIVAL:

The sudden rise of Manapad as an important Water Sports destination did not go unnoticed in the eyes of the National Water sports community. In order to take Manapad to the International league, Arun & Francina decided to embark on an ambitious plan of hosting a National Level, multi discipline Adventure Sports event in Manapad. However, this looked like a herculean task and they were initially ridiculed by many senior officials due to the sheer remote location and lack of infrastructure in Manapad. But this did not deter Arun & Francina. They worked tirelessly for two years on their dream plan and finally the first edition of this signature event was held on January 9th, 10th & 11th, 2015. This event was a grand success and was hailed as a major breakthrough for India in the world of Adventure Water Sports. This event was covered extensively by National and International media. Over 125 Athletes from various states in India and a few other countries participated in this prestigious event..

The success of the first edition encouraged the organizers to host the second edition in a much bigger scale. The second edition of this event was held on February 12th, 13th and 14th, 2016. This year the number of participants was over 160. The total number of spectators crossed 40,000 and this event was covered by the print and electronic media, both National and International. The success of this event prompted the State government to announce some major infrastructure and Tourism related projects in Manapad. Additional information on the vent can be viewed on www.manapadclassic.com

This Sail and Surf festival covers the following sporting disciplines:

  • Sailing
  • Surfing
  • Stand up Paddle
  • Kite Boarding
  • Wind Surfing
  • Kayaking Race

This is not just an event wherein people from other states and countries participate but it has acted as an eye opener for the local people. Many of our youth have shown  interest to participate and learn this sport. Through this initiative our community is equipped with skills that would enhance their livelihood. This has given lots of opportunities for our people in Manapad and the surrounding coastal villages.

How Arun & Francina Miranda’s initiatives has  helped Manapad?

  • Manapad has been firmly placed as a International tourism destination for Adventure water sports, heritage and religious significance
  • The local youth benefit from regular career counseling sessions done by Professionals. This has helped the students to choose the correct career paths after their school education.
  • Awards have been initiated for top performers in academics, which has encouraged young students to aspire for higher grades
  • The local populace have been educated continuously in proper health and hygiene practices through awareness sessions
  • They have trained local boys from Manapad at Surfing and Kite boarding clubs in Chennai. This has provided a job opportunities for our youth at Manapad
  • They have helped many technically qualified  students get jobs in Chennai or other cities
  • They are now  working on setting up a Public  library in Manapad to benefit the local people
  • They are trying to pursue the tourism department to establish a permanent  “Public Leisure Boating facility” in Manapad. This would help boost tourism in this coastal village and also generate many jobs
  • They have promoted a culture of Social entrepreneurship amongst the local population, which in turn is providing an alternate source of livelihood

Thank You

I thank him for providing me with so many details about the significance of Manapad. . Finally, I would like to appreciate Mr. Arun Miranda and his family’s efforts to promote Manapad. Best wishes for all your future plans in this regard.

by Anton Niresh

Career prospects for our youths

There was a closed door discussion recently on the need to educate our youths on current career prospects. It was agreed that our youths are aware of present potentials but it was wondered whether there should not be any codified initiative and information – a sort of ready reckoner — to help them in their decision making.

It was unanimously accepted that our youngsters are fully aware of the prospects in jobs in the seas and ships and are doing well. It was also agreed that their activities in the sea are now global and spread over different international companies. It was also accepted that they could not have made such mark if they had not been skillful and capable.

During the 20th century we have diversified and have moved into new pastures –. Business, trading, engineering, constructions, agriculture, mining, and banking.

We have moved to neighbouring countries especially to Sri Lanka and made our mark in business. Business stalwarts like Ayya Thambi D’Mel (pls. refer an earlier article by Alexander), Miguel Fernando and I.X. Pereira are examples. After liberation of Ceylon from British many of our ancestors were sent back to their native places like Tuticorin, Vembar, Kamuthy, Manappad etc. This influx resulted in many of them to look for business and jobs which other communities were doing.

During the second half of the 20th century they moved into other careers: Merchants, Teachers, some even into Indian Armed Forces & Civil Services and some into Merchant Navy etc. Out of these the most preferred calling was Merchant shipping. Even today many of our youths prefer this line which gives opportunity in ships as Cadets, Officers, Fitters, Deck Engineers etc. but it is a sad fact that very few have reached the position of “Captain”.

During the last 50 years “Education” became the important factor amongst our youth   and as a result more Graduates and Post Graduates emerged in the scene.  Many school teachers, college teachers, government officials, customs officials, bank officials were noticed in the community. With more and more people moving into interior lands from sea coast they were subjected to more exposures of other communities, and endowed with native skills they quickly adopted themselves to new environs and started excelling in new fields.

The new educational concessions given when we were categorized as most backward class benefitted our youth further. Many became engineers and doctors. Many entered government services. Many became lawyers.

Yet one has to bemoan that our youngsters have not moved into IIT or research organizations in the number that we would want them to be. It is also to be rued that though there are many lawyers and doctors we are yet to find them in top slots. Though they are doing well in private sectors they do not adorn the top slots. There is some thing amiss in us which we should ponder.

It’s a good sign that education has uplifted most of our youth, thanks to the initiatives taken up by the state government and central government. Have these opportunities and career prospects reached to all our youths in every family in all our village is a million dollar question.

I can see that even today many of our talented youths are being pushed to fishing whilst pursuing their schooling. Many who complete their schools have an inclination to get into a ship in whatever role they can afford. For them getting into a merchant ship is a high salaried job irrespective of the stress and strain that they have to undergo.

As one belonging to the community, I have high regards to fishing or getting into ships. The intention of this article is to spread the unlimited career opportunities available    for today’s youth. We need to move ahead and set steps in many of the unexplored areas.
I would like to highlight some of the unexplored areas:

Central Government:

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts following examination to get posts in Central Government:

  • Civil Services Examinations
  • Indian Forest Service examination (IFS)
  • Engineering Services Examination
  • Combined Defence Services Examination (CDS)
  • National Defence Academy Examination (NDA)
  • Naval Academy Examination
  • Combined Medical Services Examination
  • Special Class Railway Apprentices examinations.
  • Indian Economic Service/Indian Statistical Service Examination
  • Combined Geoscientist and Geologist Examination
  • Central Armed Police Forces(Assistant Commandant) Examination

Civil Services:

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India, including

  • Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
  • Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  • Indian Police Service (IPS)
  • Indian Revenue Service (IRS)

The examination is the toughest examination in India with success rate of 0.1%-0.3%.

Defence

  • Indian Armed Forces
    • Indian Army
    • Indian Air Force
    • Indian Navy

Officers to these 3 defence services are selected through UPSC’s NDA/CDS etc.

  • Research Establishments under Ministry of Defence

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

DRDO includes research establishments such as NSTL (Naval Science and Technological Laboratory), CVRDE (Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment) etc.

  • Paramilitary
    • Coast Guard
    • Assam Rifles
    • Special Frontier Force
  • The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) refers to uniform nomenclature of five security forces in India under the authority of Ministry of Home Affairs. They are:
  • Border Security Force (BSF)
  • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
  •  Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)

Public sector undertakings (Government of India)

Some of the PSU companies which are highly regarded and awarded the status of Maharatna and Navratna are:

  • Coal India Ltd.
  • Indian Oil Corporation
  • NTPC Ltd.
  • Steel Authority of India Ltd.
  • GAIL (India) Ltd.
  • Oil and Natural Gas Corporation
  • Bharat Heavy Electricals
  • Bharat Petroleum Corporation
  • Hindustan Aeronautics
  • Hindustan Petroleum Corporation
  • National Aluminium Company Ltd.
  • Neyveli Lignite Corporation
  • Container Corporation of India
  • Shipping Corporation of India

Public sector banks are familiar to us

State Government

TNPSC caters to all administrative services of Tamilnadu government. Examinations are conducted (Group 1 to 4) to fill up various administrative jobs of the Tamilnadu government.

Private Sector

Private sector throws innumerable opportunities. I will not be able to list down all the jobs offered in the private sector.

I have tried to highlight the administrative services wherein our footprint is insignificant. Our youths (male / female) spread across Tamilnadu should decide on their career and then act accordingly. The above mentioned services are applicable for both male and female. We recommend all our youths to look into such openings and get themselves acquainted.

I can understand that many of our youths will be devoid of Internet in their villages or may not be aware of our “Globalparavar” website. I would request viewers of this article to spread awareness of our portal. Even if our youths are not able to view this portal the message should reach them. I kindly request all readers to spread this information.

The purpose of this article is to encourage our youths to move into different services. We are more capable and talented to do beyond what we are currently doing. Kindly get in touch with the right people to know more on what can be done.

St. Anthony of Padua

Puliampatti2St. Anthony of Padua also known as Anthony of Lisbon was a Portuguese Catholic priest of the Franciscan order. Born in 1195 to a wealthy family in Lisbon (Portugal) he dedicated his life to the service of the poor and downtrodden. He left all the wealth his family had and completely gave himself to Christ. He is known for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of scriptures. His faith in Infant Jesus was so immense that Infant Jesus descended on St. Anthony’s hands. St. Anthony performed several miracles during his lifetime helping many in need. He died on 13 June 1231 in Padua (Italy) at a very young age. 13th June is celebrated as St. Anthony’s feast across the world.

Though born in Lisbon, Portugal his priesthood life was spent in Padua, Italy. Owing to this reason his nativity is referred to Padua rather than Lisbon. He was one of the most quickly canonized saints in Catholic history. Vatican has proclaimed St. Anthony as the “Doctor of the Church”. He is also the patron saint of finding things or lost people.

One of the most revered saints in Tamilnadu is “St. Anthony of Padua”. We can come across several churches dedicated to St. Anthony who is believed to hear our prayers and bless us. St. Anthony’s churches in Broadway & Pudupet (both in Chennai), Kamuthy, Uvari, Puliampatti are some of the prominent ones in Tamilnadu. No wonder many Catholics in this state are named after St. Anthony (Anthony, Antony, Anton, Anto etc.).

Puliampatti1St. Anthony’s influence on Paravars
Paravars across Muthukulithurai have great reverence for Saint Anthony. Most of the Paravar villages have a church dedicated to St. Anthony. Alexander Sir has many times written about the famous St. Anthony’s church in Kamuthy. The feast of St. Anthony in Kamuthy is celebrated by people of all religion with much fanfare.

In Uvari the church of St. Anthony is home to an ancient wooden statue. Legend says that the crew of a Portuguese ship which sailed near Uvari about 450 years ago contracted cholera. The ship’s carpenter carved an image of St. Anthony from a block of wood and prayed for help. Everyone in the ship was immediately healed and the entire crew regained its health. When the ship docked at Uvari, the sailors placed the statue inside a hut in the village. The church in Uvari was upgraded to a Shrine. St Anthony is said to perform many miracles daily, and this church is visited by pilgrims from all over southern Tamilnadu.

St. Anthony’s church, Puliampatti
Let’s look at one of the famous churches of St. Anthony in Puliampatti (Tuticorin District). Located at a distance of around 23 kms from Palayamkottai and 45 kms from Tuticorin, this church falls under the Palayamkottai Diocese. St. Anthony’s Shrine is the earliest shrine in the Diocese of Palayamkottai.

The history of the shrine starts with a miracle done in mid 17th century by St. Anthony to a local man named Thommai. He was a devout catholic and used to visit another village called “Santhai Pettai” where a small church had been built in honour of St. Francis Xavier. This church is located in the place where St. Francis Xavier is believed to have stayed for a while during his travel in the Muthukulithurai region. We have previously seen how St. Francis Xavier had travelled from Kanyakumari to Vembar covering all coastal villages.

Thommai had 12 sons and 1 daughter, unfortunately all his eleven sons died one after another at a very young age. The last son survived along with the daughter. The girl grew up and she got married but her husband died within 15 days of their marriage. Thommai’s only son was attacked with measles and he felt very sad thinking about his family. One day St. Anthony made an appearance to Thommai and asked him to build a church. Immediately Thommai put all his efforts to build this church in honour of St. Anthony. At the same time he saw his son recovering from the deadly measles.

Being a poor man Thommai could not raise enough money to build a church. Again St. Anthony appeared before Thommai and asked him to approach the landlord of Maniachi (current town of Maniachi). When Thommai met the landlord, the landlord said that he too had a dream wherein he was instructed to donate land to build a church. Acquiring the land at Puliampatti, Thommai started the construction work of the church. He brought the beautiful wooden statue of St. Anthony from Santhai Pettai (Francis Xavier’s church) and placed it in the new church. Though the church was very small in size roofed with hay, miracles started happening to all who came to pray to St. Anthony.

Today people irrespective of caste, creed and religion flock to this church of St. Anthony at Puliampatti. On the 15th of February 1954, Puliampatti was created as a new Parish with Rev. Fr. A. Mariadoss as its first parish priest. By his earnest effort the small shrine was elevated to a bigger one and reopened by the then Arch Bishop J. P. Leonard SJ on the 13th June, 1961.

Many miracles take place in this church at Puliampatti. People possessed by evil spirits are taken to this church so that they are healed. Many diseases are cured and lost items are recovered after visiting this church.

St. Anthony’s church at Puliampatti, unlike the churches started by St. Francis Xavier develops its roots to Santhai Pettai where St. Francis Xavier came. Paravars from Tuticorin and many other villages visit this holy shrine frequently. Transportation facility is not quite good but buses run from Tuticorin at fixed timings. Please do visit this church and get the blessings of St. Anthony.

By Anton Niresh