It is a complex business full of challenges that the despot lording it runs with iron fist in a velvet glove.
The challenges faced by this entrepreneur are interesting. As the garbage doesn’t belong to him, he has to earn the right over it by managing various stakeholders.
Though the rag-picking women who should have first right to this common asset, they are unable to access the garbage as they obviously lack necessary physical fire-power to counter him, so they are better placed accepting the cost of protection, and have fallen in line to follow a system put in place by him.
But, the real problem of this enterprising man is the state representatives in charge of health and sanitation. As the real owner of the garbage is the state, his main challenge is to deal with these representatives of the state to work out a suitable model for monetisation of this valuable state asset.
I have no idea about the medium of pacification used by the man running the show, but the fact that the man also managed to construct a temple on the footpath has made me really admire him, because even though a lot of online complaints were made about the temple, each was “closed” by state officials because they could not “see” the temple during “site inspection”.
It is clear that if he was not stuck on a footpath, the man has the potential to be GM corporate affairs in a large company. But, I am not too worried about his future as I am absolutely sure that he will soon head for bigger things, as armed with a temple built on a wall of a premium plot, there is no doubt that he and his erstwhile partners will soon be able to liquidate a prime asset generated from their partnership.
The story of this man is the story of a lot of businessmen of India. The real money is always in monopolistic usurping of state assets, and to achieve it, it is absolutely critical to earn sympathies of the state representatives.
As I tend to look at morality as a subjective social construct, I prefer to look at this collusion as a human drama that I am not always critical about, more so in this case because it also involves recycling that poor are earning from, but I see a collateral damage that worries me.
To sort the garbage, all of it is pulled out of the bins and laid out, making it a feast for dogs and cows. As the location enjoys amnesty from state, it is opportunistically used by various food chains and even hospitals located close by to dispose their waste.
The net outcome is, after useful material is extracted by the sorters, all the remaining garbage stays outside on ground to rot. Every monsoon, as I drive through this organic sludge, my mind conjures up images of a brand new pathogen evolving in it.
The problem as I see it is, when state machinery is compromised, it stayed overtly compromised losing the very essence of its role. So, the overall impact is lot worse than just an illicit business that enriches few people. It also ends up becoming extremely dangerous for the society.
It is not the monetary corruption that is scary, it is the collateral damage that is caused when the eyes of the state are covered with money.