Jackie K. (India)

Jackie K. (Chintan Environmental research and Action Group): Jackie grew up on the Canadian prairies in Winnipeg, Manitoba where she became deeply interested in the impact of environmental change on marginalized peoples. She graduated in 2007 from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Environmental Science (First Class Honours) and a University Gold Medal as the highest achieving graduate in her faculty. While completing this degree, Jackie worked in the University of Manitoba’s Environmental Conservation Lab, helping research on the social impacts of mad cow disease and other ecological challenges. In the fall of 2007, Jackie began a Law degree at the University of British Columbia where she worked with Dr. Natasha Affolder, researching biodiversity and mining. While at UBC Law, Jackie was the Co-Chair of UBC’s Environmental Law Group and co-coordinator of the Public Interest Law Society.

B”law”g 1: Legal Literacy at Chintan

16 Jul


Untangling the Knots that Bind Wastepickers

The legal framework that informs interactions between citizens and the state and individuals within a state can be like a knotted ball of string; difficult to find where it ends and where it begins, difficult to figure out who actually pulls the strings.

Given my position as a law student, the staff at Chintan have requested that I dedicate space on my blog to explore the interaction between wastepickers, Chintan and the law. This post therefore represents the first in my new series of bLAWgs: Legal Literacy at Chintan. This series will begin with an overview of the legal issues that Chintan tackles. More in depth case studies will follow in the weeks to come.

In New Delhi, Chintan advocates for wastepickers. The dispossessed. People who do not enjoy the same type of citizenship, the same rights to life and livelihood that middle class Indians do. As a result, Chintan often finds itself acting as an intermediary between wastepickers and the state, or, wastepickers and the police.

Santoo was brutally beaten by police when he was accused of stealing while actually collecting waste for recycling. No charges were laid. Today, Santoo fights back as a leader within the wastepicker community.

Santoo was brutally beaten by police when he was accused of stealing while actually collecting waste for recycling. No charges were laid. Today, Santoo fights back as a leader within the wastepicker community.

For example, Santoo, one of Chintan’s most charismatic leaders, is dedicated to uniting wastepickers to prevent the arbitrary use of police force where wastepickers are simply doing their jobs. United, wastepickers represent a more formalized and publicly recognized work force. Divided, wastepickers become invisible and are vulnerable to police brutality and further infringements on their civil liberties. Chintan is in the process of setting up a distress line to assist wastepickers.

Beyond managing one-off interactions between wastepickers and the police, Chintan also aids in the domestic implementation of international law. For example, Chintan’s “No Child in Bins” program directly contemplates international legal norms abolishing child labour as well as India’s policy on eliminating child labour. The “No Child in Bins” program provides educational support through learning centres to the children of wastepickers and children surviving through wastepicking.

Classroom in Seema Puri: 3 to 5 year olds

The “No Child in Bins” campaign aids in implementing international and domestic laws banning child labour.

Chintan is also active on the international scene, advocating for India’s urban poor throughout the development of international agreements. For example, Chintan is part of the international climate justice movement, seeking to have the work that wastepickers do in curbing climate change recognized within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Recyling Centre in Bhopura

Bhopura Recycling Centre

Wasterecyclers are vital to climate change mitigation in India. For example, manufacturing goods from recycled materials uses less energy than using new inputs. In addition, wastepickers prevent many paper products from entering landfills, concomitantly preventing the release of methane from the decomposition of such materials. Finally, wastepickers reintroduce used paper into production thus relieving some of the pressure on trees to provide all of India’s paper needs. Yet, funding through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol to aid in this vital service has evaded wastepickers thus far, focussing instead on end of pipe solutions. 

For a factsheet on wastepickers and climate change seehttp://www.no-burn.org/article.php?id=729  

Also see “Ragpickers lose jobs as world tackles climate change”  http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/enviornment/ragpickers-lose-jobs-as-world-tackles-climate-change_100203268.html

Coming soon: Focus on Police Brutality – know your legal rights. 

Posted By Jackie K. (India)

Posted Jul 16th, 2009


  • mercerd

    July 17, 2009


    interesting material, where such topics do you find? I will often go

  • Paul Colombini

    July 30, 2009


    Hi Jacqui!

    It’s Paul, former AP Chintan Fellow! Just took a look at your Blog and Ted’s and wanted to say you guys are doing an awesome job!! Love the photos, they bring back a lot of memories, and I think the blogs you guys are producing are excellent. It looks like things are still tough for the waste pickers in Delhi, but I do see some signs of imporvement in the areas that you’re photographing, especially the classes for kids in Seemapuri (I don’t remember those!), which is encouraging. Keep up the great work and keep it comin’!!

    Please say hi to Ted, Bharati, Santoo and of course the informal recyclers for me 🙂



    • Jacqui Kotyk

      August 3, 2009


      Thanks Paul! The hello is reciprocated and extended by Ryan from Witness as well.


Enter your Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *