Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ragpicking or recycling

How's this for an interesting fact: "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 for fellow citizens."

That the situation in India's capital city, according to dispatch from the International Herald Tribune.

The city is planning to celebrate Gandhi's birthday on October 2nd by giving 6,000 ragpickers gloves, aprons and boots. The ragpickers, understandably, say they'd prefer wages, social security, pensions, health care, uniforms they hope will discourage police harassment, education for their children, and decent housing.

Given that most of the city has no sanitation services, the people in the rag trade are, in a sense, public servants. Shouldn't they be treated that way? "If we stop, who is going to do this work instead of us?" Mohamad Nazir, one of the ragpickers, told the Herald Tribune. "They know they won't find other people who are willing. Within two days the whole city would be stinking and filthy."

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