Waste Workers on Air, since 2012

Kasa Shramika Parisara Rakshka, which means waste pickers are the saviours of the environment in English, is the country’s only radio series produced by the waste workers of Bangalore since 26th January 2012. 

How it all began?

In 2010, Hasiru Dala began organising waste pickers in Bangalore. A chance meeting with Nalini Shekar and Anslem Rosario at the meeting at SWMRT paved the way for identification of a community that was invisible and marginalised.  Hasiru Dala, through organising was experimenting with unique strategy that is top down than the usual bottom up approach, through network partners.  It was at this period Radio Active 90.4 MHz- Bangalore’s first community radio station, volunteered to help map waste pickers in Bommanahalli area. Working closely with Hasiru Dala and the network partners, the approach demonstrated a potential for action oriented advocacy.

At the regular monthly meetings, a prominent issue that surfaced was that of identity, the need for recognition and the atrocities faced. It was then that Radio Active mooted the idea for a dedicated radio series, produced by the community, in the language/ dialect of their choice. The idea was immediately accepted and the group decided to name the series ‘Kasa Shramika Parisara Rakshka, which means waste pickers are the saviours of the environment in English’. At the meeting a training calendar was fixed, with each basti/slum/area giving out dates for the same.  Post a series of capacity building workshop in audio production from August 2011, and subsequent  radio program committee meeting of 17 members,   the large group decided to launch the program on 26th January 2012, at the 2nd Samavaesh of Waste Picker Identity Card Distribution at BBMP Glass House, Bangalore. 

Salma and Siddiq has the unique distinction of being the world’s first couple informal waste worker RJs.

Themes covered on the Radio

Co-produced by the community, the audio series gives you a glimpse into the lives of the informal waste workers. Over the years a range of issues have been covered on the radio –  that helped recognise the changing role of waste pickers and other informal waste workers.

Some of the prominent themes are:

  • Identity, Stigma and Discrimination, Caste and Livelihoods, Focus on Aspirations and positioning themselves as knowledge workers rather than informal workers
  • Different types of waste pickers and profiling of other waste workers across the recycling value chain (including home based workers, migrant workers, specialist waste workers like bone collectors and hair pickers)
  • Social Security issues, Sanchari Bazaar, PDS related issues and other Government schemes
  • Child Marriage, Children’s education and scholarships, the Children’s Library, Hostels
  • Drug Abuse, alcoholism and deaddiction
  • Occupational Hazards and use of PPE, Health Camps,
  • Use of technology, skill upgradation, new methods of working, Career progression, financial inclusion and savings, new opportunities- composting, mushroom cultivation
  • Right to Space and places of production
  • Water and Sanitation & Menstrual Health and Hygiene
  • Sustainable waste management practice, Single Use Plastics, Recycling, prices of materials
  • Dry waste collection centers – Learnings, challenges and process, best practices, SOPs, non-payment issues, citizen support
  • Event and Festival Waste Management
  • Policy feedback and discussions, Standard Operation procedures discussions, EPR related expectations
  • Celebrations and Cooking shows
  • COVID and waste management

Till date over 1500 programs have been produced of which 135 were specially produced under the series Daastan-e-Nayandahalli, Stories from the Recycling Hub of Bangalore.  Of these 421 programs have been converted into podcasts. The stories produced from Daastan- e-Nayandahalli has been converted into a larger report titled “Valuing Urban Waste- The need for a comprehensive recycling policy”.

At present Salma Kalum, Siddiq Khan, Mansoor Gous, Ismail Pasha, Mohammed Imran and Krishna A M hosts the shows, facilitated by RJ Usha

Why are these series important?

These stories are important as for the first time in the country, waste-pickers voices are being heard as producers of content. These stories are democratising knowledge production and helping waste pickers and other recyclers create their own media landscape and actively participating in governance and key issues affecting their life. Second these stories also serve as an important site for academic fraternity, activists, journalists, researchers and policy makers.  Third it helps build solidarity among different community groups and allows for language diversity.

You can listen to some of the episodes here:

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