The coir industry, once thriving and the cradle of the communist movement in Kerala, is on the decline.

The production process has decentralised from the organised sector to household operations, pushing the coir workers into a marginal existence.  A nexus of bureaucrats, middlemen, contractors and politicians corner all the benefits, while the coir workers toil hard in difficult conditions for a pittance.

PHOTO • V. Sasikumar

Gokuldas, a coir worker in Alappuzha, says: ‘This is passed on to us through our dna! This is our family occupation. We are left with no options… so we continue doing this’

V. Sasikumar

V. Sasikumar is a 2015 PARI Fellow, and a Thiruvananthapuram-based filmmaker who focuses on rural, social and cultural issues.

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