These photos are out of focus so won’t be used for anything, but the sequences of emotions, both of the woman lost in thought and the child’s face transforming from distress to delight as he takes a step forward, are beautiful nonetheless.
First week in Delhi ends with 11 interviews complete, four scheduled and more being planned. Nine of the 11 interviews have been with waste pickers themselves, and two were with experts on waste
and waste management in Delhi. Below are a few quotes from the interviews. These are completely unscripted and unedited and may or may not be in the finished film.
Ravi Agarwal, Communications Engineer and founder of ToxicsLink, Interview:
“This is how economists are thinking: there is this wealth that lies at the bottom that needs to be extracted in order to get at GDP. A revealing glimpse into this is that the companies that were given these contracts for solid waste management by the municipalities were basically supposed to take the waste as it accumulates and transfer it to the landfills, and their income would come from what they get paid per ton for waste delivered at the landfill. So initially their interest is to increase the tonnage of what they take to the landfill But they have discovered in the last one year or so that in fact what they take to the landfill has a lot of recyclable stuff. and therefore they’re denying the waste picker these recyclables and saying we are going to take that waste, so what happens is that recyclable get subtracted from that total amount, so they are getting paid less by municipalities. But what happens is that the small tonnage they take out as recyclables they’re getting about 10 times more income out of that recyclable. So in a sense they are taking the waste picker out of the scene itself not in terms of collecting and segregating the recycle, but in terms of the waste picker having control over the recycle and being able to sell it. So they’re saying you continue collecting, you continue segregating but WE will take over the sale. So that explains how the formal organization gobbles up a chunk of the profit and they leave it to the informal sector. This is the wealth at the bottom of the pyramid that these economists are talking about. And they talk about it so glibly, as if they’re doing the poor a good deed, they’re not, they’re basically extracting more and more surpluses out of them. That’s globalization. That’s the wealth at the bottom of the pyramid. ”
September 22nd. Started filming. Diness Majhi (pictured above with his son) was first to talk about his life as a waste picker. Raju Kevat (far left, above) spoke next, describing how he came to Delhi to make money because the agriculture work that had sustained the people in his village is dwindling. His wife and five children still live in the village. He spends half the year with them and half the year working as a waste picker in Delhi.
Jayada Begam told her story next. Her children have grown and moved out of the waste picker community. None of them became waste pickers.
After Jayada, Akbar, Jahan Ara Bibi, and Bohiran each described their daily lives as waste pickers and their hopes for the future.
The final interview of the day was with Amatun, who segregates waste once it has been collected. The hardest part of her job? “Nothing is hard,” she laughed, “it is easy, I am happy.”
I will now be providing updates from Delhi mostly via the video platform site, Reelhouse.
Follow the film’s progress and feel free to leave questions and comments!