Monday, December 10Delhi Greens Blog: Greening the World, One Post at a Time!

Of Things We Don’t Know: Formal Notes from an ‘Informal’ Sector!

Ragpickers at Zero Pushta, Delhi

A trip to the Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary got me thinking. I realized that the jungle supports livelihoods of the tribal people who have essentially been hunters and gatherers by profession. They do not own the forests or even part of it, they only access it and use it to meet their every day needs of survival.

They go in the forests to collect food, fodder ,fuel and small timber. Just the way it is, without altering the habitat or without disrupting the resource base. They visit different places, trees, wines, shrubs in different seasons to collect berries-nuts-fruits-flowers-leaves and other products like honey or tree bark and roots. All that requires an intimate knowledge of the forest.

These resources are not ‘free’ – as it needs efforts and knowledge to get them, without having a calendar or a planner to make notes. This is passed on to others over time and generations without text books or computer records. The appreciation of nature comes from the experience of nature.

This made me think about ragpickers in the city–who are–in an anthropological sense ‘gatherers’ and may well be using the same strategy to survive in the city. They are beyond the monetized economy and they survive,  they know where to find food or money, at what time, at what places, including religious places and hotels.

All this requires efforts? Yes. Hard work and bargaining with others? Yes. planning and decision making? Yes. Weighing pros and cons for a visit to a particular part for gathering goodies? Yes. What it does not require is exchange of money as we know it. Their every day lives do not involve a need to exchange cash in return for services or for food or for fuel or for more substantive needs of housing or clothing or entertainment or possessing things.

But they visit the garbage dumps for collecting material that they can recycle like plastic, metal, paper, cloth, etc. that has some monetary value. Collect left over food from houses or restaurants or religious palaces for eating. What is left behind is rotting garbage–‘waste’–that gets recycled in the natural order of things.

I am sure a more detailed inquiry into the life of scavengers living in cities will tell us about their efforts at planning, strategizing, exchange of information, goods, efforts, etc. It is an area we do not yet know … could it be possible that an entire knowledge base–a complex of decision makers and a group of people related to ‘Green City’ that may exist and we may not even be aware of their contribution, leave alone quantifying, measuring and acknowledging it?

Of Things We Don’t Know: Formal Notes from an ‘Informal’ Sector!https://i2.wp.com/delhigreens.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/ragpickers-delhi.JPG?fit=500%2C364https://i2.wp.com/delhigreens.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/ragpickers-delhi.JPG?fit=150%2C150 Gialome Green Alert,,,,,
A trip to the Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary got me thinking. I realized that the jungle supports livelihoods of the tribal people who have essentially been hunters and gatherers by profession. They do not own the forests or even part of it, they only access it and use it to...
<img class="size-full wp-image-2090" title="ragpickers delhi" src="http://delhigreens.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/ragpickers-delhi.JPG" alt="Ragpickers at Zero Pushta, Delhi" width="500" height="364" /> A trip to the Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary got me thinking. I realized that the jungle supports livelihoods of the tribal people who have essentially been hunters and gatherers by profession. They do not own the forests or even part of it, they only access it and use it to meet their every day needs of survival. They go in the forests to collect food, fodder ,fuel and small timber. Just the way it is, without altering the habitat or without disrupting the resource base. They visit different places, trees, wines, shrubs in different seasons to collect berries-nuts-fruits-flowers-leaves and other products like honey or tree bark and roots. All that requires an intimate knowledge of the forest. These resources are not ‘free’ - as it needs efforts and knowledge to get them, without having a calendar or a planner to make notes. This is passed on to others over time and generations without text books or computer records. The appreciation of nature comes from the experience of nature. This made me think about ragpickers in the city--who are--in an anthropological sense ‘gatherers’ and may well be using the same strategy to survive in the city. They are beyond the monetized economy and they survive,  they know where to find food or money, at what time, at what places, including religious places and hotels. All this requires efforts? Yes. Hard work and bargaining with others? Yes. planning and decision making? Yes. Weighing pros and cons for a visit to a particular part for gathering goodies? Yes. What it does not require is exchange of money <em>as we know it</em>. Their every day lives do not involve a need to exchange cash in return for services or for food or for fuel or for more substantive needs of housing or clothing or entertainment or possessing things. But they visit the garbage dumps for collecting material that they can recycle like plastic, metal, paper, cloth, etc. that has some monetary value. Collect left over food from houses or restaurants or religious palaces for eating. What is left behind is rotting garbage--'waste'--that gets recycled in the natural order of things. I am sure a more detailed inquiry into the life of scavengers living in cities will tell us about their efforts at planning, strategizing, exchange of information, goods, efforts, etc. It is an area we do not yet know … could it be possible that an entire knowledge base--a complex of decision makers and a group of people related to ‘Green City’ that may exist and we may not even be aware of their contribution, leave alone quantifying, measuring and acknowledging it?

[Total: 1    Average: 5/5]
About 

Environmental anthropologist by training, been in the field for over 20 years. I am mainly concerned with the infrastructure and technology project impacts on people communities and their physical environment. Their adaptation and mitigation strategies, interests me, now especially in the context of climate change and CDM.

Facebook Interact

Views: 6,273

9 Comments

  • Manav

    Formality is the virtue of the rich…informality, the vice of those who do it all??

    Public CommentUserFormality is the virtue of the rich...informality, the vice of those who do it all??
  • My Representative – Assembly Election 2009

    My Representative provides voter’s opinion for the Member of Legislative Assembly Constituency about various “Candidates” contesting for the seat in Legislative Assembly Elections of India. Overall trend for all Candidates can be seen in summary sheet against the timeline till votend.

    http://www.opinionpoll.in/modules/election/representative.php?constituencyid=247

    Public CommentUser<b>My Representative - Assembly Election 2009</b> My Representative provides voter's opinion for the Member of Legislative Assembly Constituency about various "Candidates" contesting for the seat in Legislative Assembly Elections of India. Overall trend for all Candidates can be seen in summary sheet against the timeline till votend. http://www.opinionpoll.in/modules/election/representative.php?constituencyid=247
  • Jyotsna

    I suspect the biggest issue is e-waste created by individual home computer users who operate from home. They will have no collection centres and no specific location to discard even if they want to. One simple thing that will work for these users in need is to have a designated ‘Kabadiwala’ who is allowed to collect the waste.

    Public CommentUserI suspect the biggest issue is e-waste created by individual home computer users who operate from home. They will have no collection centres and no specific location to discard even if they want to. One simple thing that will work for these users in need is to have a designated 'Kabadiwala' who is allowed to collect the waste.
  • Rahul

    I am a filmmaker from Mumbai/London. I was in India shooting a film based on waste recycle and education for adults. I need photographs of children picking waste. Is there any way I could get some images. I right now in London and unable to make pictures in india. Please let me know.

    Public CommentUserI am a filmmaker from Mumbai/London. I was in India shooting a film based on waste recycle and education for adults. I need photographs of children picking waste. Is there any way I could get some images. I right now in London and unable to make pictures in india. Please let me know.
  • […] inducted into the Company. This way, a person who had worked all his life in the informal sector (of which we know so little) suddenly became an employee of a Company and came into the formal sector. This in itself was the […]

    Public CommentUser[…] inducted into the Company. This way, a person who had worked all his life in the informal sector (of which we know so little) suddenly became an employee of a Company and came into the formal sector. This in itself was the […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Delhi Greens BlogGreening the World, One Post at a Time!2018