India has a dubious record in the recycling business. Alang, home to the largest ship breaking and recycling yard, is also notorious for the lax standards that are prevalent as far as individual safety is concerned. And of course, they will break down any ship (remember Clemenceau?) regardless of the environmental consequences...

On a smaller scale, recycling is an important component of the very small scale in the urban economy, from the ubiquitous kabadiwalla who makes a round of residential areas every day, to the local recyclers who deal in any and every form of trash.

Of Poverty and Plastic: Scavenging and Scrap Trading Entrepreneurs in India's Urban Informal Economy will shortly be published by OUP India. The author, Kaveri Gill, is Consultant with the Planning Commission of India and she completed the book while holding a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge.

Of Poverty and Plastic "applies an interdisciplinary, approach to poverty analysis, using a mix of survey and ethnographic data to challenge received notions of the nature and extent of narrow income poverty and multiple deprivations experienced by those working in the informal waste recovery and plastic recycling economy of Delhi.

A detailed analysis of specialization, capital, and value in various segments of this labour-intensive, green informal market is undertaken, with explicit recognition of its wider social and political institutional context, and how it is shaped by unequal interactions with civil society and the state. In particular, the book focuses on the identity and agency of subordinate scheduled caste groups living literally and metaphorically on the edge of the city in negotiating a decent life in today's neoliberal environment.

The case studies of the ban on recycled polythene bags and the industrial relocation order illustrate the channels through which these actors collectively seek to resist the perceived anti-urban poor status quo, driven by powerful middle class coalitions through legislation or judicial fiat, with varying degrees of success. In doing so, the book exposes the complex, and at times contrary, policy reality binding poverty and deprivation, formal and informal markets, the state and citizenship in contemporary urban India. "

Soon available in our Development Studies section, in hardcover, Rs 650. ISBN: 9780198060864