Thursday, September 27, 2007

Picking Up Trash by Hand, and Yearning for Dignity

It's good to see that the media is talking about things Indian, other than outsourcing, Bollywood and the economy!!!
Read the full NYT article at --

From the New York Times
Published: September 27, 2007
NEW DELHI — After a bad day at work, Manorama Begum can hardly keep from vomiting. After a good day, she is merely disinclined to eat for a few hours, until the stench has receded from her nostrils and her fingernails have been scrubbed clean.

A garbage collector in India’s capital, Ms. Begum is one of 300,000 little-seen workers who perform a vital role for the city: rifling through the detritus of modern life, recycling anything of worth and carefully disposing of the rest.

More than 95 percent of New Delhi has no formal system of house-to-house garbage collection, so it falls to the city’s ragpickers, one of India’s poorest and most marginalized groups, to provide this basic service. They are not paid by the state, relying instead on donations from the communities they serve and on meager profits from the sale of discarded items.

But after centuries of submissive silence, the waste collectors are beginning to demand respect.

On Oct. 2, Gandhi’s birthday, the Delhi state government will make a small but significant concession. In response to pressure from a ragpickers’ union, it will supply about 6,000 with protective gloves, boots and aprons.

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