On his trip to India's commercial capital, Mumbai (Bombay), President Obama addressed entrepreneurs, university students, and Asia's richest man, who just built himself a 27-story house... But he stayed far away from Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, which was made famous worldwide by the hit 2008 movie "Slumdog Millionaire."
The ACORN Foundation India works to organize the slum's trash collectors and sorters known as "ragpickers." The group was set up separately by the founder of the ACORN community organization that Obama once worked with in America... ACORN India issues the ragpickers identification cards that help cut down harassment by police and neighborhood watch groups.
...some of the 150,000 to 200,000 ragpickers in Mumbai live on top of the garbage they sort on the fringes of Dharavi.
...A man named Syed Sheikh sits under a canopy sorting through a sack of plastic junk he bought for 50 cents. He pulls an item out, taps it against a rock, then tosses it into one of the many bags and piles around him... Plastic that's sorted by color and by grade sells for $3.50 to $23 per sack. Even with his fast pace, the work nets less than 67 cents an hour for him. Still, after three hours of work a day he will earn more than 75 percent of Indians do...
...[ACORN's] Shetty says roughly 40 percent of all Mumbai's waste gets recycled, meaning ragpickers are part of the "green-collar" workforce that politicians and industrialists tout as a "win-win" between environmental and business concerns. ACORN India is resisting efforts to commercialize the sector unless the ragpickers are the ones chosen for the formalized jobs.
...[Wade] Rathke, who left the US ACORN group in 2008, focuses now on a separate organization he founded named ACORN International. The group has members in nine countries, including India, and focuses on the billion or so people who live in mega-slums.
Activists tied to ACORN International will protest outside Obama's speech to Parliament Monday to pressure Indian lawmakers not to allow foreign companies like Wal-Mart into retail...
Got that? Those "green collar" jobs the Democrats are always touting?
Apparently they involve sitting on top of landfills and sorting plastic for 67 cents an hour.