A koraga who turned over a new leaf

The literacy movement in undivided Dakshina Kannada district, changed the destiny of Mungila Koraga, writes Naina J A

Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us— Thomas L Holdcroft
Literacy has always helped an individual to open new doors of horizon  and contribute for the development of the country. Mungila Koraga’s life has been an extraordinary journey. It goes on to prove that if one truly believes in something and never gives up, one can achieve far more than you can ever dream of. And as it is said if you want the rainbow you got to put up with the rain. For Mungila, the sight of an alcoholic falling beside the road side, always brings back memories—of a terrible life he had seen 20 to 25 years ago, of long hungry days and even longer nights, of frightful hardship his family witnessed. Down the memory lane, everything has changed through literacy. He is a testimony to show how literacy movement can change one’s life. After joining literacy movement and started learning the alphabets, he started realising the need forleading a dignified life and started growing jasmine, vegetables to earn for living in his 64 cents land. 

“I was working as a labourer. Whatever I earned, was spent in toddy shop, leaving my children and wife in dire straits. I had a thatched roof house and was sleeping beside the road or outside the toddy shop. Once I got enrolled into literacy activities, I realised the need for stopping consumption of alcohol,” he goes down memory lane. “It was Asha madam in Jodukatte Kaje in Miyar of Karkala taluk who taught me the alphabets. I had taken part in neo-literates rally held in Mangalore where we had shouted slogans against alcohol. After coming back home, I began to introspect and took a pledge not to consume alcohol in my life. Though my friends forced me to consume alcohol many a time, I was determined,” he says proudly. “Once I joined the literacy movement, I became Karkala taluk neo-literates association president and then undivided Dakshina Kannada district neo-literates association president. The posts gave me a platform to share my thoughts and encourage others to stop drinking. In the Association, I have travelled to Bangalore, Mysore, Hosakote and started advising people against the consumption of alcohol,” he says.

Change in life

“I had 64 cents of ancestral property and decided to develop it for my livelihood. With my savings, I constructed compound wall, dug two wells  and then planted jasmine, which changed my destiny. I brought 10 plants from Belman and started nourishing it. Later, the SKDRDP gave me 50 plants.”

Through jasmine he could fetch Rs 73,000 annually for the first five years. “I used to sell 25 to 30 ‘chendu’ jasmine. Now there are 105 Shankarapura jasmine plants in his land. Mungila started mixed farming in his land. He has 43 coconut trees, 125 arecanut trees, mango, jackfruit, banana, papaya, pineapple and cashew trees. He also grows vegetables like ‘basale,’ gherkin, pepper, jeegujje and others. He says that his day begins at 5 am. “My wife and children too help me in my jasmine cultivation. They help me in tying the flowers. In fact, this year, the yield is less due to cold weather,” he says.

Mungila is also into dairy farming and supplies around five litres of milk to the milk society daily. He had even tried his luck in sericulture but did not see success in it. The family uses gobar gas for cooking and the slurry from the gas unit is used as fertiliser for the vegetables and other produce which he grows. 

“Dalits like us can lead a dignified life by taking up farming in the available land. The government is giving us all the facilities to become self- reliant. However, many families do not understand the need to become self-reliant,” he rues.


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