Rag Pickers of India
Written: October 22, 1999
First Online: September 05,2004
Page Last Updated: October 10,2006
Numerous Indian states are enforcing anti-begging laws and hence the traditional
have opted for rag-picking.
Most of the rag-pickers are extremely poor, illiterate, and
belong to rural immigrant families. Many commence their profession at the young
age of five to eight years. Most of them never attend any school or have any
formal education. Most of their families are in need of extra incomes from these
young children (see: ). While they are collecting rags they are subjected to chemical
poisons and infections. Because of malnutrition they suffer from retarded growth
and anemia. The rag pickers are very susceptible to diseases like tuberculosis and
cancer due to their exposure to hazardous materials.
© K. L. Kamat
Rag-pickers Start Young
In most cases, there are middlemen who engage these children. They are
to collect, bottles, plastic, metal parts, glass pieces and alike. They also
collect food-waste for their consumption. If found in access they share it with
their friends and the elders. The middlemen pocket the major share of the sales
and pays only paltry to the youngsters. As earning members of the family they do
not heed much to the elders of the family's advice. They commence chewing and
smoking tobacco. Soon they become addicted to alcohols and then they switch to
hard liquors. They even do not refrain from taking the drugs. They have free sex
with street walkers and hence become victims of AIDS.
© K. L. Kamat
Rag-picking in Urban India
The State and the Central Government collect lots of taxes on the pretext of
rehabilitating the rag-pickers. Unfortunately that amount is squandered away in
most unimaginative ways. The government and non-government agencies are going
for "Rag-pickers Project" in a big way. They rent out a huge building,
furnish it with expensive furniture; appoint lots of office-bears and conduct
classes during fixed timings. To these rag-pickers they aim to teach state,
national and international languages together with mathematics! But in reality
they learn only abusive languages. Many times they fight very fierce verbal and
physical abuse by their colleagues.
Some of of the rag-pickers get to be treated like stars on
Christmas and New Year's days by YMCA and YWCA, who offer them new clothes and
sweets before television cameras.
Begging Profession in India -- Kamat on why people beg in India, their modus operandi, their social and love life. He wonders whether feeding the beggars keeps the profession alive
People of India -- Wide ranging topics and pictures depicting the common and uncommon communities of India; their professions, life-styles, and values.