This book is about poverty and the urban informal sector, as engaged in by the garbage collectors or scavengers and the plastic recycling or scrap trading entrepreneurs of Delhi. It explores a variety of questions regarding these entrepreneurs through a ‘field-view’ rather than ‘book-view’ of Indian society, and as seen through the lens of every successive layer of an urban informal sector market chain, that of scavenging and plastic recycling. While theoretical ideas about poverty, human development, and markets are interwoven into each chapter, this introductory chapter briefly sets out the present-day scenario in India as regards the existence of the informal sector and urban poverty. It also discusses neoliberal reforms and labour market dynamics in present-day India and contextualises the existence of the informal waste recovery and plastic recycling sector in developing countries.
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