May 19, 2019

The Real Risk Takers – #PakodaClass and Street Hawkers

#Samadhaan #SocialJournalism #SoJo

Today we will talk about that section of society or that set of Indians, who have been ignored, discriminated, abandoned and exploited by the system. Yes the #PakodaClass the total number is close 10% of Indian’s Population. Are you surprised, shocked and dismayed? We all should be.

The story is of those who use the laws of the land to complete the process that begins within them as empathy for fellow human being, these are the individuals who wish to make a difference through their actions, not  through confrontation but by using the same system and existing laws. This is our tribute to these brave individuals who refuse to say this is not my concern but make it their life’s mission, without aggression, they face challenges and obstacles with stoicism of a Yogi. Some are baking political Rotis by mocking them and addressing them as #PakodaClass . These are street hawkers and vendors.

This unorganised business across India is worth billions. Ones who run this show and takes abuses from every possible person and government employee but never forget to keep smiling. Yes, this is the class that is the biggest risk takers ever seen.

With no security of business as an outcome of bandh, accident, political unreast, VIP movement, etc. These hawkers have never say die attitude. If one has to search for the biggest stage where the culture of ancient India has passed through generations then this is one of the biggest class – Street Hawkers.

Even by conservative estimate the numbers are substantial. Unofficial estimate of these hawkers is 20 million. Assuming they have five dependents including their parents, then we are discussing about 120 million population. If each hawker is creating just one job, then we have 20 million jobs. Each small and large business also creates business opportunity for logistics, warehousing, telecom.

Now let us assume INR 1000 as their turnover per day. This makes INR 2000 crore of turnover daily. If an average of 10% profit margin is taken then Pan India this industry is making a profit of INR 200 crores/day, in a month INR 6000 crore and in a financial year a profit of INR 72,000 crore. All those who made fun of #PakodaClass need to answer a simple question What is their Appetite for  Risk takingIt’s easy to make fun and make tall claims sitting in Air Conditioned studio. Very difficult to carry the inventory everyday to the market, wait for customers with one thought and an eye on the road (police, local goon etc.).

These risk takers are exposed to private money lenders with little support from the government. Their average money borrowing rate is 2% per month. Some friends may not know that if a hawker borrows INR 10,000 for 2% then he is obliged to pay INR 200 per month. Whether he returns in a month or a day, INR 200 has to be paid. Compare this with government lending which is on a pro rata basis (on actual day used). By rough estimates the government is missing out on a turnover of INR 7,20,000 crore of turnover.

Banking and Insurance industry is missing out on this ready to use opportunity. Health and medical insurance is another industry that is missing on this segment. Street hawkers are law abiding citizens and despite hardships have not given up for 70 years. At times we citizens get paranoid with their behaviour (yes exceptions are there). But we need to understand the place where they stand and sell. This is their Karambhoomi, no less than a place of worship for them.

There are plenty of laws and Government Regulations passed / issued that are in the interest of civil society. It takes years of hard work and follow up by active citizens, social activists / NGO’s etc before these laws are passed. Next is the herculean task of implementation. One such law is” The Street Vendors Act 2014″. 

It is no rocket science to understand why implementation takes ages. Look at GST and Demonetization, the government had the will, so the same were implemented. Fine tuning can take its time. With regard to  The Street Vendors Act 2014 the story is different.

Street hawkers and their business is unorganised for over 70 years. Only way to regulate this booming business segment is regularize and keep track of their business, assist them with whatever is required to enhance their business, assist them with conducive process of improving their living conditions and use the output for development of the nation. The outputs are many and have far reaching consequences we already discussed in this article.

This Act is unique and has all salient points explained in detailed for the benefit of Street Hawkers, Citizens and Administration. Sharing few salient points here. As a first step to implementation in a municipal corporation the state government needs to assist in creating a Town Vending Committee. This includes all stake holders to identify Hawking zones, No Hawking zones, number of licenses to be issued etc. It has a mechanism of grievance redressal, annual audit

The biggest flaw we noticed while doing our ground report is not too many hawkers are aware of this Act. In a city like Mumbai where Town Vending Committee is formed the street hawkers are not aware of the development, survey, etc. If we look at the administration side ones who are calling the shots to earmark Hawking and No Hawking Zones are different from the ones who are going to execute it. This will lead to litigation and no one benefits from it.

Recently the state government of Maharashtra has announced that seven zones are created in Mumbai city limits. The hawkers unions are claiming that they were not kept in the loop before this decision was arrived. Whatever may be the case, each and every city that is yet to implement has to ensure that the genuine street hawkers are rewarded with the license and not the near and dear ones of politicians, government and local goons. Else instead of creating a safe and secure society we land up creating something we never dreamt of.

Here is our ground report on Street Hawkers


Our ground report has established one fact. When we read crime news, we often say why can’t these people work hard and earn their living. #PakodaClass or any street hawker is consistently making an effort to earn their living. Let us join hands and work together to get  The Street Vendors Act 2014 implemented across India. Street hawkers that we spoke are willing to pay a monthly rent to the municipal corporation. Anything in the range of INR 1000 to INR 2000. #PakodaClass are not free loaders like the Lutyens. They want to live with dignity.

One important point made by NaMo last year in one of his speech is unless the lower income group or the poor come in tax bracket the pressure on middle class shall continue. This is one of those opportunity. 20 million citizens creating this mind boggling revenue has to be recongnized and made part of the tax system. What are we waiting for? #PakodaClass efforts will assist the middle class not the other way round.

Critical inputs / suggestions welcome as always.


Link Credit: Press Information Bureau

Pictures: NV Media ( )


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