Broad declining agrarianeconomy and limited livelihood opportunities in

Broad field of study:Contemporary India is witnessing a rapid growth in urban spaces. With the declining agrarianeconomy and limited livelihood opportunities in rural areas, more and more people are migratingto the urban spaces. This nature of migration can be categorized as forced migration (Dwivedi,2013). However, on most occasions the hopes of migrant communities to enhance their quality oflife are found to be derailed in the urban spaces. While migrant communities are involved indifferent livelihood activities, most of them depend upon manual wage labour.In the context of livelihood of migrant laborers, there are multiple issues and concerns in theurban cities of India. One of the major and continuing concerns in India’s urban areas is the issueof waste management. More importantly, it is about mapping who all are the involvedstakeholders when it comes to collection and disposal of waste in urban areas. Studies havefound that (Reddy, 1988) while management of the waste is handled by top level institutionssuch as municipal bodies, most of the migrant communities are involved in everyday collectionand disposal of different type of waste. This is irrespective of commercial, industrial, housingcolonies or other public places of the city. With this alarming increase in waste production themanagement of waste is increasingly becoming a socio-political and environmental issue.Statement of research problem:-Among the multiple actors involved in the process of urban waste management, rag pickers playa significant role. However, given their socio-economic and political positioning in the largersocial space, their role in the waste management system in India is undermined. Rag pickercollects garbage such as recyclable items that can be sold to the scrap dealers. This activityrequires no learned skills as such, but hard labour and is a source of livelihood for a growingnumber of urban marginalized families.Recent research observations entails that a significant number of children from the marginalizedfamilies living in urban slums engage in door-to- door picking waste from various localities,picking the recyclable material from dumping ground and selling it to scrap dealers to earn aliving. According to a report by a non-governmental organization Chintan working with wastepickers in India, 75% to 80% of the total collected waste was by rag pickers who collected thewaste manually. The intervention of the State in the waste management industry is limited. Thereare around 2 million people involved in rag picking in India from which around 3.5 lakh reside inthe city of Delhi NCR and Mumbai. From these, above 0.2 lakh are children below the age of 14years. These children belong to poor and marginalized families and are dependent on rag pickingfor their livelihood. The majority of children involved in rag picking are out of school, whichdirectly deprives them of their constitutional right to education and protection. Rag-pickinginvolves handling the waste manually and has severe implications on the health of the ragpickers. Therefore, it makes these children even more vulnerable.Objectives of the study:The study aims at understanding the socio-economic condition of the children living in urbanspaces who are involved in rag picking and the reasons contributing to their vulnerability. Hence,the major objectives of the study can be categorized as follows:? To understand the social history of rag picking communities and how and why they areinvolved in rag picking? To assess/map vulnerabilities and marginalisation of Children involved in Rag picking inUrban Spaces? To assess how the socio-economic and political position of child’s micro sphere (family)determines/impact everyday life and livelihood choices and well being of children (may bechildren in need of care and protection)Rationale for and significance of the study:People involved in ragpicking play an important role in collecting waste materials in cities;however, they are unrecognized in a larger context. Rag picking doesn’t only deprive children oftheir educational and recreational rights, but exposes them to severe health issues. In a study onrag pickers in India, it was reported that collecting rags exposes children to chemical infectionsand poisons and hence due to malnutrition children suffer from restarted growth and anemic(Kamat, 1999). They start chewing tobacco and become addicted to different kinds of substanceuse and abuse at a young age. Children living in such vulnerable circumstances are prone tophysical, sexual and emotional abuse by the police, local residents or other waste or rag pickers(Hunt, 1996). Situational, social and economic factors among the families involved in rag-picking in the urban areas act as hurdles for the children in such communities to demand for theirrights. The study aims to contribute towards a critical understanding of the everyday life struggleof children involved in Rag Picking and their socioeconomic and political positioning in thelarger social sphere.Methodology:For the proposed study, researcher will use exploratory study design. The study will bequalitative in nature where semi-structured interview will be used for the purpose of datacollection. The sample will be chosen through purposive sampling as per the objectives of thestudy. The sample population will consist of the children involved in rag picking, their familiesand non-governmental organizations working in the city with these children.Candidate’s research/work experience in that area:While working with Vishal Bharat Sansthan, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, I closely looked at theground reality of the street connected children. I have also worked with children involved in ragpicking during my field work with a non-governmental organization called YUVA in Mumbai. Itwas observed that the majority of the families were from poor economic backgrounds and weremigrants from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. The majority of children had negligible access toeducation, health facilities, nutritional food, clean water and shelter. Many of the childrenbelonged to broken families or were living without parental care. However, there were lack ofearning alternatives and parents or the child him/herself was dependent on the child’s earningthrough rag picking for survival.


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