Winners and Losers
Indian children carry bricks on their heads at a brick factory at Modhera.
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The Changing Face of India - continued
by Nigel Cassidy, BBC Current Affairs
I've now come to the village of Dundigal, just a 45-minute drive from Hyderabad. As pleasure flies buzz overhead, whole families can be found in the open air making bricks in these kilns. The pay is the equivalent of about 55 pence, or 1 U.S. dollar a day, below the minimum wage. Project officer Vijay Kumar tells me about their daily routine.
"In the early morning he wakes up," says Kumar. "He is very busy in mixing this mud for the bricks. In that process wife and children bring water to mix this mud. From the afternoon they start making bricks. Children mix it around. Then he gives that mud to the molder. Then he molds the bricks."
I meet Purnima, an exceptionally lively woman, her eyes bright but her face etched with lines from years spent working in the open. She doesn't know how old she is, though Vijay thinks she's about 35. She's here with her husband and three children who also go to the school. She says if they learn how to read, they'll be able to help find the kilns by reading the signs when they're traveling. Beyond this, she has no other ambitions or expectations.
"How can I know my age when I can't even read or write?" Punimar asks. "I have two boys and a girl. They have to come with us. We have come a long way to find work here. If anything should happen, there's nobody to take care of us. If I die, I'd be buried here. I don't know where my life is going."
I ask, "Do you worry who will look after you when you're old?"
"I've been doing heavy work in these brick kilns for ten years," says Punimar. "I'll probably do another ten. After that, I'm going to die."