Actupondy, the Guide to Pondicherry

From an universal practice ...

femmes pcheThe fishery is not only a male affair in India, as in the rest of the world. Although women don't participate in general to the sea fishing, they are in charge of the secondary tasks: they help in the darning of nets and in the preparation of hooks before the departure of men; they prepare fish once delivered on the beach, then sell it on shoplifting or in the streets – without speaking of the house management outside this work.

It's necessary to go back to the first generations of 20th century to find women practising these activities in Europe. In the maritime regions of the European continent, women were directly members of the fishing process. They didn't defy the wind on the frail dodge of their husbands, but the skin of their hands was also rocky and their movements were equally sharpened. The industrial fishing created a new order: big trawlers replaced the small boats; crews are more numerous and leave now for several weeks. Women don't wait anymore for their men on the quay to sell their grips. But they are today still millions in India, in Asia and beyond in all developing countries.

... To a particular case ...

vendeuse poissonKantha is one of them. She is an itinerant seller of fish in the streets of Pondicherry. Dressed according to the Indian tradition, she wears on this day a white sari, decorated with pink and green sheets. She is fifty-years-old and she practices this job since her youth, repeating tirelessly the same route six days a week. Her day starts at seven o'clock in the morning in Goubert market, where she meets fishermen delivering their morning grips and the other sellers, who are itinerant too or owner of a shoplifting in the market. Kantha buys her fishes and shrimps, then leaves at nine o'clock to the streets of Pondicherry: she covers the historic city-center of the old colonial trade post with her charge on the head, mixture of fishes, shrimps and ice.

... Representative of the whole country

vendeuse poisson2Kantha wanders in the quiet streets of the French district and those crowded of the "Indian city", announcing her arrival by a strident "yera meenu", which means "fishes and shrimps". Her daily route represents fifty streets according to what she tells, and her day ends around 1 p.m – 2 p.m. when sales are numerous. Only Sunday is a day off, but when fishermen return to the market without any grip, Kantha backs home to meet her thirty-three-year-old daughter. Kantha's work is just like many in India: precarious on everyday life. A crowd of elements needs to be count, and at least the smaller physical or meteorological problem can deprive her of income several days in a week. This job insecurity is a central element of the market in the Indian subcontinent, and millions of workers evolve under its rule. The sustainability of the salary is essential to develop the national economy – moreover when this one is populated by a billion three hundred millions souls. The Indian subcontinent doesn't missed voluntary arms, and it's the role of politics to assure its security and its good use for collective purpose.


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