Wednesday July 18, 2018

Dignity is not a property of the Rich: Inspirational story of a Mumbai Rag Picker

Organisations like Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) and Solid Waste Collection and Handling (SWaCH) are helping the rag pickers or ‘waste pickers’ lead a dignified life by helping them fight for their rights

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The Mumbai woman who keeps India clean. Image source: Deccan Chronicle
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What makes a story connect with so many people? Humans of Bombay, a very popular Facebook page, has taken the responsibility of portraying individuals along with a glimpse into their very simple yet uniquely different encounter with life. Their page says ‘We catalogue the beat of the city, one story at a time’.

On Monday the page featured a picture of a woman, who looks in her twenties and later revealed as a mother of two. She was married when she was 14 to a boy two years older than her. The story does not make big claims. It just talks about the unseen struggle of hundreds of people who are victims of social discrimination because of the work they do. They are the ‘labours’ in the country trying so hard to adopt the philosophy of ‘Dignity of Labour’.

cows eating trash. Image source: Wikipedia
cows eating trash. Image source: Wikipedia

The original post read:
I was born in a family of limited means. We were all sent to school, but in the 7th standard my family decided that I should drop out — and I didn’t fight it because I knew that money wasn’t coming in easy. My brothers continued to go to school and I took classes in sewing and embroidery, until the age of 14 when I got married to my husband who was only 16 back then. In our community, this wasn’t unheard off. Even though we were both children, the responsibility on us was immense — my father-in-law was no more and my husband’s brother passed away in a train accident, leaving behind his wife and two children who were to be looked after as well.
At the age of 15, I began to go door to door in big buildings, asking if their trash needed to be collected. I started collecting trash this way and it led to me becoming a rag picker. I was always well received by people who would call me a ‘sweet girl’ or give me sweets to eat, all because I never complained about anything. Some of these people gave me bigger jobs like cleaning their home and I took on them gladly because I knew that my family desperately needed the money.
I became a mother after a few years and I wondered how I would tell my children that this is how I earn my money. I decided I would wait until the right age — but all of my apprehensions disappeared when the time came to send them to school. I realised, that if it weren’t for the 10,000 Rupees I was earning every month… they wouldn’t have an education. I had tears in my eyes as I thanked God for everything — the foul smell of garbage, the hard days of going door to door and the different homes I cleaned.
Both my sons accept my work and there is nothing more I could ask for. I was terrified that they would be embarrassed of me, but they have been so supportive. My younger son recently wrote an essay on me for his class. It was called, ‘My Mother Keeps India Clean’— I didn’t understand a lot of it but it was enough just to know that he wrote about me… I’m a happy mother.”

The post has 32,000 likes and 3295 shares. The story clearly resonates with a large number of people.
The organisations like Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) and Solid Waste Collection and Handling (SWaCH) are helping the rag pickers or ‘waste pickers’ lead a dignified life by helping them fight for their rights. They help them work professionally and upgrade their livelihood. These organisations are authorized by the state municipal corporations with the twin objective of solving a huge problem of waste management and making a ‘menial’ job of cleaning up trash not so menial anymore and also in a way that is way more hygienic.
The official page of KKPKP, a trade union of waste-pickers in Pune, says:
“We were treated like the trash we collect. People would shoo us away like they would dogs. They would cover their noses when they passed us. It hurt.”
The union brings together waste pickers, itinerant waste buyers, waste collectors and other informal recyclers. They recover, collect, categorise and sell scrap materials such as corrugated board, paper, plastics, metals and glass for recycling. They also provide garbage collection, composting and related waste management services.

-by Shivangi

Shivangi is an intern at NewsGram

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    A story that touches your heart! This is truly an inspirational story which everyone should know about! Humans of Bombay are doing an amazing job too

  • Shubhi Mangla

    A great job being done by Humans of Bombay! Waste pickers to keep our country clean. Their job should not be looked upon as disgraceful

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Monsoon Road Trips from Mumbai

The hills are alive this monsoon. The best way to feel the cool winds and witness the mountain storms is to do it on one’s own terms – behind the wheel

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Here are some top recommendations for your next best road trip in this season of Monsoon. Pixabay

The floods in Mumbai have been in the news lately, an annual chaos that seems to have become part and parcel of life in the country’s financial capital. However, the monsoons are not a season to dread and just outside the city, as the curious traveller ventures higher into the Western Ghats, there are some picture-perfect destinations for the season. Here are some top recommendations.

Lonavala
Lonavala would be on top of the monsoon destination list for most Mumbaikars. Wrapped in fog, this historic region gains a completely new avatar in the rains as the forested mountain slopes regenerate and the waterfalls come to life. One of these is Kune Falls, which roars amidst a pristine verdant scenery.

The Lohagad Fort has always been one of the most captivating sites on this route and the monsoon mist gives it an allure straight of a medieval-theme video game or movie. A trek to Liones Point is recommended – the season would require special precautions like monsoon-ready footwear and waterproof clothing. While in Lonavala town, a visit to the lake is not a bad idea.

Khandala
Just next to Lonavala, one can reach the quaint hill town of Khandala, perched at close to 2000 feet above sea level. The mild monsoon temperatures and dramatic scenery make this place an ideal weekend getaway from the bustling metro, not to mention the splendorous drive on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Some of the popular viewpoints here are the Tiger’s Leap and the Amrutanjan Point. Other attractions here include the Buddhist cave temples at Karla and the calm and placid Bhushi Lake.

khandala
The mild monsoon temperatures and dramatic scenery make Khandala an ideal weekend getaway from the bustling metro.

Mahabaleshwar
A jewel tucked in the lap of the mighty Sahyadari Mountains; Mahabaleshwar offers visitors a curious mix of colonial heritage and striking Indian history. Built by Shivaji, Pratapgad Fort has an enigmatic presence in the landscape here, a site of many important events.

Those looking to enjoy some of the high elevations will love a trek to the summit of Wilson Point, famous for its panoramic views of the valley below. The Needle Hole Point is another famous place to catch a glimpse of the scenic landscapes. Venna Lake is another centrepiece attraction at Mahabaleshwar while the hilltop Krishnabai Temple is famous for its architecture and Krishna statue.

More and more travellers are choosing a car rental over public transport. Rates are increasingly affordable and self drive gives total control over the pace of the journey. One can make impromptu stops and detours and there is complete privacy.

Finding a car rental in Mumbai is as simple as a few taps on an app. With platforms like Zoomcar, registered users can book a vehicle in a matter of minutes. One can choose from a wide range of cars – maybe a hatchback or sedan for the family getaway – or maybe a large SUV for the boisterous group road trip. 24/7 on-road support is one of the assurances that self drive rentals offer.

The hills are alive this monsoon. The best way to feel the cool winds and witness the mountain storms is to do it on one’s own terms – behind the wheel.