12 May, 2021

Out Of The Rat Race

“My father didn’t know what a bank was,” says a bank clerk Katkari. “His father didn’t know what transport was.”

Apoorva Salkade
Out Of The Rat Race

Reclining in his plush gold-and-black sofa-chair, Ramchandra Katkari, 50, rues the fact that he has not been at the wheel of his coveted white Maruti sx-4 for nearly a month, thanks to the knee injury he landed while negotiating the steps to his bedroom on the second floor of his house in Agroli village, Belapur, about 90 minutes from Mumbai. Agroli, set amidst the concretised development of Belapur in Navi Mumbai, is a village only in name. And Ramchandra is a member of the traditionally rat-catching Katkari tribe, among the most primitive in India, only by name.

Add up his assets—which include a house and a 1,300 sq ft apartment—and Ramchandra is easily a half-crorepati. It all comes from money wisely invested and carefully spent—the money being the compensation package he collected from the Maharashtra government in the early ’80s when it acquired village land to develop Navi Mumbai. The drawing room of his house, itself the size of a studio apartment in Mumbai, boasts of a 46-inch LCD—a Sony Bravia,...

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