Thriving ‘Kandum’ Business

In Raguvir Nagar of West Delhi, as you walk through the shanty lanes you can easily witness a thriving informal sector. Wherever you look, you can find the heaps of used clothing at centre of business activities. Contrary to previous predictions of eventual demise of this sector at the global level, the informal economy has emerged in new guises.
Kailash who runs a unit of stitching and along with his family he manages to earn the considerable sum and his entrepreneurial endeavor enables a comfortable life. They buy used-clothing from the households that are useless for those people. After loosening stitches, they re-stitch them into various sizes before sell to the traders at nearby Purana Kapada Market.
Mohan  (45 year old) a school dropout from Uttar Pradesh who came in Delhi about 20 years ago with having seventy rupees in pocket now he possessed a piece of land which priced at 75 lakh.  Since then, Mohan is a regular peripatetic trader at Mandi and business of this used clothing gave him everything. Mohan narrated his success story to me. He added that he prefers embroidered garments and jeans. And prices of these embroidered cloths are much higher.
It is not an isolated story of entrepreneurial spirit at back of rubbles but this locality is a cradle of such numerous entrepreneurs. They are blooming on a principle – the fine stitch and the more money and further that is improving overall employment scenario. Same locality is also important for another reason. The government is running a cash transfer initiative instead of food grains through public distribution system but growing entrepreneurial spirit enabling them as self-dependent. They are aware of such initiatives.
When I ventured into nearby Purana  Kapda Vikray Market ( one of the largest  market place for used-clothing) there were forty  to fifty thousand  people, roughly. They vied for lying cloths like trousers, sarees etc. Some of workers were sorting cloths very fast. This market opens at 2 am daily and closes at around 1 pm after floor mopping and cleaning.
There are two types of workforce involved in this market one is self-employed and second one is wage employed. Under the self-employed category, whole families work together and toil for more than eight hours a day. On the other hand, there is another group of people who shorts cloths at piece rates. All most all market participants belong to Gujarat.
If you are regular for some times but you have not enough money to pursue your business then you can borrow easily form informal sector here known as Kishtiya. However, this business does not require a lot of money. Traders come here from Alwar, Gurgaon,  Rohtak  and all nook and corner of Delhi.
However there are no exact figures or data on involving work forces. Traders pay 3 rupees per gathar and if you are buyer of cloths then you will pay five rupees per gather.
These are not survival activities. It provides employment, goods and services for low-income groups. Anonymously these “ultimate entrepreneurs” are contributors to the economy as whole but they are invisible to the glitzy but it does not dampen their enthusiasm.

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