They run in red clothes as trains enter the platform. They catch the door and ask you to hold your heavy luggage. Yes, we call them coolie. However, in this railway budget they received new name and avatar, now you have to call them as ‘Sahayaks’.
Announcing the Railway Budget, Minister Suresh Prabhu said porters would now be called “Sahayaks” or helpers. Officials say the word “coolie” – the name originally given to local unskilled workers – was seen as a colonial relic.
The coolies were usually unskilled labourers who were taken by Western merchants to South East Asia, the Americas, the Caribbean and parts of Africa to work on plantations and construction sites in British colonies.
According to historical accounts, many of these illiterate men and women were hoodwinked or kidnapped by the merchants, who stepped in after the movement to abolish slavery from Africa created a worldwide labour shortage in the late 1840s.
The ministers said the porters would be trained in soft skills. According to officials, the “Sahayaks” will also have the benefit of trolleys like airports.