Waste Pickers' Story

Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Story of a teenage Waste Picker

February 12, 2012, 10:27 pm
Source: Book review: ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers,’ by Katherine Boo
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Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo

Shashi Tharoor reviews the latest book of Pulitzer Prize winning author Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Life, Death, and Hope in Mumbai Undercity. As an account of the lives of marginalized populations in a developing nation with a rapidly developing fraction, the book speaks about the informal trade in waste. Informal waste sector is one of the largest employer of India's under privileged citizens. Informal waste pickers as they are called, together recycle up to 70% of plastic, paper and metal waste generated in India, as compared to only 28% in US and slightly higher percentages in other developed countries. Despite the public and environmental services they provide, like Abdul's father in this book, they are subject to premature deaths and severe health problems due to their direct exposure to improperly managed wastes! 


Shashi Tharoor's review starts here...
This is an astonishing book. It is astonishing on several levels: as a worm’s-eye view of the “undercity” of one of the world’s largest metropolises; as an intensely reported, deeply felt account of the lives, hopes and fears of people traditionally excluded from literate narratives; as a story that truly hasn’t been told before, at least not about India and not by a foreigner. But most of all, it is astonishing that it exists at all.
Katherine Boo, a New Yorker staff writer who won a Pulitzer Prize while working at The Washington Post, spent three years and four months (from November 2007 to March 2011) following the lives of some of Mumbai’s most deprived citizens, the dirt-poor residents of a squatter slum on the periphery of its international airport. Annawadi, in the shadow of luxury hotels, is “a bitty slum popped up in the biggest city of a country that holds one third of the planet’s poor.” Built on swampy land abutting a sewage lake, it is home to a motley collection of marginal Indians desperate to make a living out of the detritus of the city’s economic boom.


Annepu, R. (2012). Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Story of a teenage Waste Picker. Retrieved from http://www.informalwastesector.net/view/article/51cbf2b27896bb431f6aa69a


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