Monday, April 11, 2016

AGENTS FOR CHANGE - India's Vendors

"Empowering India’s street vendors as entrepreneurs" PBS NewsHour 4/6/2016

Bet that today's Republican conservatives would like to have MORE 'informal sector' workers.  After all, they enact policies that essentially do that in the US.


SUMMARY:  In India, home to the world's fastest growing economy, most workers, from street vendors to rickshaw drivers, aren't on the books, making them vulnerable to harassment by corrupt officials and policemen.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro profiles one group trying to protect vendors and improve their lives and businesses.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO (NewsHour):  The big malls may have arrived, but in India, food, clothing and virtually everything else is still bought mostly from street vendors.

They, along with construction laborers, domestics, rickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers, in fact, most workers in India’s economy, are, quite literally, off the books, says Indiana University’s Sumit Ganguly.

SUMIT GANGULY, Indiana University:  Ninety percent of the work force in India is in the so-called informal sector.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  That could be a technical term that means a very hard life.  They live from day to day.  That is, if there’s work on any given day, they are paid at the end of it, less than $2 for most of them.

SUMIT GANGULY:  These are people who have no Social Security provisions, who have no health care provisions, who can be hired and fired at will.  And yet, according to a recent Credit Suisse study, it’s close to — they contribute close to 50 percent of India’s gross national product.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Not only are they underappreciated, but they fall easy prey to corrupt officials.

The market outside of Delhi’s main mosque has been here for more than 200 years.  The vendors complain that they’re subject to regular harassment from police demanding bribes or from municipal authorities who conduct regular raids to evict them.

IMRAN KHAN, Street Vendor (through interpreter):  They kicked us out from here in 2014, citing security reasons.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Across India’s cities, vendors like Imran Khan carry tales of harassment, sometimes along with their own video, of stalls dismantled and merchandise confiscated.

IMRAN KHAN (through interpreter):  Then finally, we went to NASVI, to Arbind, and he said, you have only one option, straight to court.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Social activist Arbind Singh founded NASVI, the National Association of Street Vendors.

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