Two Stories About the Bangle Makers
For generations, families of banglemakers have been trapped in a vicious circle of poverty. Their only skill is bangle-making, and they pass this legacy on to their children.
Generations of mind-numbing toil have robbed them of initiative and the courage to try something new. They hardly get a belly full of food, and their work at smoky furnaces makes them lose their eyesight prematurely.
They are poor
The first story unveils the utter destitute condition of rag pickers who survive by scavenging through garbage. The second story focuses on the unenviable lot of the families engaged in making glass bangles in Firozabad. The bangle makers are poor and illiterate and live in abject poverty. They are unable to afford even a decent house for their family. They are compelled to practice their ancestral profession and cannot change it. They view it as a part of their destiny and mutely accept their plight. Years of mind-numbing toil have killed their initiative and the ability to dream.
They hardly get one full meal in their lifetime and are thus underfed, prone to ailments, and deprived of education. They work in dingy cells where the stinking smell of the garbage chokes their bodies. The bending of young children, polishing, and welding work leave deep scars on their bodies. The high temperature often makes them lose their eyesight before they become adults.
The bangle makers are trapped in a vicious circle. They are unable to escape from it because the middlemen, policemen, and lawmakers conspire against them and pay them meager wages. They also prohibit them from forming cooperatives and prevent them from changing their jobs. This is a massive violation of human rights and should be stopped immediately.
They are illiterate
The illiterate bangle makers of Firozabad live in utter misery. They cannot escape from the vicious circle of seekers, middlemen, policemen, and high-ranking bureaucrats who exploit them both physically and financially. Their plight is worsened by the fact that they do not have any legal rights. They can’t even organize themselves into cooperatives because the police will haul them up, beat them, and drag them to jail for doing something illegal.
They work in dingy cells without air and light, where the furnaces reach very high temperatures. They suffer from suffocation and are prone to ailments. Children are forced to bend their backs from a very young age, and they lose their eyesight early in life. They also do not have any other option because they believe that their family tradition demands that they make bangles.
Mukesh, who belongs to a bangle-making family, wants to break this tradition and become a motor mechanic. He is determined to do well and improve his living conditions. He is not afraid of the police because he knows that it will be easier for him to work in a garage than in his family’s workshop. The illiterate bangle makers lack the knowledge of how to run a business. They can’t trust each other, and members of other families often oppose their ideas. This leads to hate and rivalry between the bangle makers.
They are afraid of the police.
For generations, families of bangle makers have been engaged in the profession. They work hard, live in poverty, and die in it. The vicious circle of money – lenders, middlemen, policemen, law-keepers, and politicians ties them in its clutches. They cannot break free from it because they lack the resources to start another trade. They are also afraid to organize themselves into cooperatives because they fear the police will haul them up, beat them, and drag them to jail for doing something illegal. They are illiterate and do not have any leaders to show them a different way.
Mukesh is one such bangle maker from Firozabad. His grandfather was a banglemaker, and his father was his mentor. He has been working in this profession for over 40 years and has never enjoyed a complete meal in his life. He is unable to stop his family from following in his footsteps. He believes that it is their Karam, their fate, to be a bangle maker.
Mukesh tries to break this vicious cycle by urging the young bangle makers to get organized and form cooperatives. The author suggested that they could pool their resources, buy raw materials at a lower cost, and sell them directly to the market, eliminating the middlemen. The bangle makers were skeptical and afraid of the powerful middlemen who control their lives, but the author’s idea planted seeds of hope in them.
They are trapped in a vicious circle
For generations, the bangle makers have been trapped in this vicious circle of poverty and illiteracy. They cannot break free from this slumber because of the exploitation they face at the hands of middlemen and moneylenders. They live in stinking lanes choked with garbage, and their homes are hovels where humans and animals coexist. Their work is hard, and they suffer from a variety of health issues due to the dingy cells in which they must live and their constant exposure to hot glass furnaces. Many of them lose their eyesight at an early age.
The bangle makers have accepted their misery as being part of “their karma, their destiny.” They believe that God has ordained this fate for them. They do not dare to challenge this belief and have instead settled for their present situation as the only option.
One bangle maker named Mukesh has made it his ambition to break this generation-old tradition. He has a dream to become a motor mechanic and is determined to achieve his goal. He is willing to walk long distances to reach a garage to learn the required skills. He wants to escape the vicious circle of poverty and exploitation that he is currently trapped in. His family disapproves of his plans, but he is determined to follow his heart.