This is Mahadev Kasabe. He hails from Sholapur, a town South East of Pune on the broder of Maharashtra and Karnataka. He comes from a family of landless peasants and ten years ago, his father decided to move to Pune to join some others from the same village who were making a better life for themselves in Pune than was possible in their village.
Kasabe Senior works as a daily wage earner digging up roads and pavements for labour contractors hired by the Pune Municipal Corporation. Mahadev decided to be an entrepreneur rather than a daily wage manual worker and went into his own business of Recycling. Only, it is called Raddi business in Hindi. He will purchase old newspapers, bottles, plastic goods, card board cartons, metal items, old vessels or whatever that a householder wishes to get rid of. He will then cart the daily collection to a buyers who specialise in each item by evening and dispose off the stocks for cash by nightfall.
Five years ago, Mahadev became my friend and has been the sole raddiwallah for me. I was returning by foot from a super market near our home with a heavy load of bags in one hand and with my walking stick in the other. Mahadev overtook me, stopped his hand cart and offered to carry the bags on his then empty cart till as close to our place as possible. I gladly accepted his offer and luckily, he came right up to our door steps on his way. While walking along with him, I found out his business and since that day, he comes twice a month to clear all the discardables in our home. I don’t bargain with him and I am reasonably sure that my trust in him is reciprocated by his paying me a fair price for the material for recycling.
This is Mohan Raddiwala’s Shop located in Bavdhan gaon, one of Pune’s suburbs. Mohan Malve the owner joined their family business at the age of 10. He took over the business after his father and has been in this business for last 32 years.
Mahadev will take his collection of old newspapers, stationary and cardboard items to shops like this spread in many parts of Pune.
From these shops, such material find their ways to paper plants and other recycling businesses. A Rags To Riches story will give you an idea of the possibilities in this very essential part of our economy.
Mahadev, his parents, wife and three daughters live at a small colony near our place, mostly occupied by people from his village and near by villages. His three daughters go to school and he thinks the world of them and hopes that they will grow up to be educated, employed happy people. In a country where girl children are still treated as second preference, this is a very refreshing attitude. Unlike many other such entrepreneurs, Mahadev’s wife is just a housewife as is his mother. Between what Mahadev and his father earn, they have been able to make a decent life for themselves and have money saved in the post office.
I have a great deal of admiration for such people. They get on with life cheerfully, instead of expecting doles from the government and the society at large.